BUCK­ING BRON­COS

7-3 Bills’ new­found of­fen­sive iden­tity to be tested by 3-7 Bron­cos

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By JOHN WAWROW AP Sports Writer

OR­CHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) » Buf­falo Bills cen­ter Mitch Morse ex­pressed a brief sense of sat­is­fac­tion. He didn’t have to spend yet an­other week ad­dress­ing the same old ques­tions re­gard­ing the of­fense’s short­com­ings.

For once, Morse could point to ac­tual signs of the Josh Allen-led unit ap­proach­ing its po­ten­tial fol­low­ing a break­out four-touch­down and sea­son-best 424-yard out­ing in a 37-20 win at Mi­ami that has Buf­falo (7-3) off to its best 10game record in 20 years.

“It’s just fun putting points up,” he said. “It’s sat­is­fy­ing.”

Morse, how­ever, is well aware how one week’s romp doesn’t guar­an­tee an­other, es­pe­cially given his fa­mil­iar­ity with Von Miller and the Den­ver Bron­cos com­ing to town Sun­day.

“It’s one game. We’re very proud of it,” said Morse, who spent his first four sea­sons with the Bron­cos’ AFC Westrival Kansas City Chiefs. “As quickly as we did well, we could get stag­nant. So, for us, it’s un­der­stand­ing we are play­ing a very good de­fense.”

The Bron­cos (3-7) have their is­sues, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to fourth-quar­ter melt

downs. Den­ver has now blown four fourth-quar­ter leads, in­clud­ing last week’s 27-23 loss at Min­nesota, in which the Bron­cos be­came the first team in five years to squan­der a 20-point lead en­ter­ing half­time.

And yet, the Bron­cos un­der first-year coach Vic Fangio are still dan­ger­ous enough to have held a lead over all but two op­po­nents, and fea­ture a de­fense ranked fourth in the NFL in yards al­lowed, and tied for sev­enth in points al­lowed.

“I don’t have to con­vince them they were close. You were all there. It was close and it’s been close a lot of times,” Fangio said, re­fer­ring to the loss to the Vik­ings. “You can see the ef­fort that we’re giv­ing on Sun­days, so I think (a break­through) will hap­pen.”

Den­ver is in jeop­ardy of go­ing 3-8 for the se­cond time in three years. Buf­falo hasn’t had at least eight wins through 11 games since 1996.

START­ING TO BILL-IEVE

Allen dis­missed ques­tions about whether the of­fense can sus­tain its suc­cess over Mi­ami, with Buf­falo en­ter­ing the most dif­fi­cult por­tion of its sched­ule.

“I def­i­nitely don’t think it’s a one-time thing how we played. We have a good sense of who we are as a team,” said Allen, who earned AFC of­fen­sive player of the week honors. “I re­ally think we found our iden­tity as an of­fense.”

He did con­cede, “We have to go out and take it. The rest of the sched­ule, noth­ing is go­ing to be handed to us.”

Buf­falo’s seven wins have come against teams en­ter­ing this week with a com­bined record of 15-55. The next five op­po­nents are 31-19, and in­clude three di­vi­sion lead­ers: Dal­las (6-4), Bal­ti­more (8-2) and New Eng­land (9-1).

PRES­SURE POINTS

Miller has just four sacks, one shy of his ca­reer low set in 2015, when he missed six games on sus­pen­sion and one on in­jured re­serve. In his other eight sea­sons, he’s av­er­aged 13 sacks. One rea­son is teams are fo­cus­ing even more on stop­ping him with fel­low pass rusher Bradley Chubb (knee) on IR.

The Bron­cos are get­ting pres­sure from other play­ers. Shelby Har­ris had a ca­reerbest three sacks last week, and Derek Wolfe’s five sacks are one shy of his ca­reer high set in his rookie year, 2002.

TORCHED TUBA

QB Bran­don Allen is Den­ver’s sixth start­ing quar­ter­back since Pey­ton Man­ning re­tired, and he’s han­dling the pres­sure of the job just fine. His col­lege ca­reer was also spent in a foot­ball-crazed town: Fayet­teville, Arkansas. That’s where, as Allen ex­plained it, “a cou­ple of rogue fans, I guess” torched his truck in 2014 be­cause the Ra­zor­backs were los­ing. A tuba player’s car also was burned.

“A tuba player? Must have been play­ing the tuba re­ally badly,” Allen said.

THE MAN UP­STAIRS

Bills of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Brian Daboll doesn’t be­lieve his move from the side­line to call plays from the coaches’ booth played a ma­jor fac­tor in the win over Mi­ami. Daboll in­stead cred­ited his play­ers for ex­e­cut­ing the game plan, which in­cluded a hurry-up wrin­kle.

“I prob­a­bly have a broader vi­sion of it, but at the end of the day it’s about the play­ers,” Daboll said. “I’m happy for those guys.”

TALL TAR­GETS

With Em­manuel San­ders’ trade and Tim Patrick’s re­turn from a bro­ken hand, the Bron­cos fea­ture one of the NFL’s tallest re­ceiv­ing trios. Both Patrick and Court­land Sut­ton are 6-foot-4, as is rookie tight end Noah Fant.

Patrick had 77 re­ceiv­ing yards in his re­turn to ac­tion last week, while Sut­ton had 113 yards re­ceiv­ing, 38 yards pass­ing and 10 yards rush­ing. Fant added 60 yards re­ceiv­ing, giv­ing him 360 on the sea­son, tops in the NFL among rookie tight ends.

WILFREDO LEE - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Buf­falo Bills quar­ter­back Josh Allen (17) runs for a touch­down ahead of Mi­ami Dol­phins out­side line­backer Jerome Baker (55), dur­ing the se­cond half at an NFL foot­ball game, Sun­day, Nov. 17, 2019, in Mi­ami Gar­dens, Fla.

JIM MONE - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Min­nesota Vik­ings quar­ter­back Kirk Cousins (8) fum­bles as he is sacked by Den­ver Bron­cos de­fen­sive tackle Shelby Har­ris (96) dur­ing the first half of an NFL foot­ball game, Sun­day, Nov. 17, 2019, in Min­neapo­lis. The Bron­cos re­cov­ered the fum­ble.

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