Epenesa recorded a sack and his first-ever interception, which he ran in for a 32-yard touchdown. This was the first pick-six by Bills defensive lineman in 14 seasons, per the team’s official website.
However, Epenesa’s stellar performance against the Commanders didn’t keep his teammates from making the Bills’ former second-round pick from the 2020 NFL draft pay up for a bet made earlier in the week, per NYup.com.
The Iowa alum made a friendly wager with Ryan Bates, Connor McGovern, and DaQuan Jones, along with Bills equipment assistant Austin Skobel, that his former school would defeat his teammates’ alma mater, Penn State, ahead of Saturday’s game.
The Nittany Lions absolutely crushed the Hawkeyes in a 31-0 defeat, which meant Epenesa had to post a photo with the hashtag “We Are” on his Instagram Stories while wearing full Penn State gear.
The 25-year-old shared the photo on Monday, September 25, and included a hilarious special message to his boys, writing “I hate” before tagging all four guys. However, Epenesa is likely too pumped from him and his team’s stellar performance against the Commanders to be too upset.
When asked if that pick-six of was the best play career, “So far, yeah, I’d say so,” Epenesa answered with a laugh. As for the team’s mentality entering Week 3, “Just attack, attack, attack pressure, be physical, make them uncomfortable. That’s our comfort zone when we’re playing around and we’re playing aggressive like that. That’s just us as an identity.”
Josh Allen Praised A.J. Epenesa & the Bills’ Defense
While Epenesa’s pick-six surprised most viewers, Bills quarterback Josh Allen said the defensive end makes impressive plays like that all the time in practice.
During his postgame press conference on Sunday, “A.J. is notorious for doing that in practice,” Allen said “He’s tall and lanky and he just finds a way to make plays like that. He’s done that to us in practice so many different times so it was good to see him go out there and do it in the game and then go finish in the end zone and celebrate with his teammates.”
The Bills defense didn’t allow Commanders quarterback Sam Howell to throw one touchdown pass. They sacked him nine times, made 15 quarterback hits, and forced five turnovers. Allen said the defense “balled out” and credited their shut-down performance for helping propel his game.
“At the end of the day, still having that attack mindset and every time we touch the ball, we want to score,” Allen said. “But it makes it that much easier, you’re not trying to force things as much when you know you have a defense you can rely on and it’s okay to punt the ball away and they put us in some great situations today.”
The Bills Face a Huge Challenge in Week 4 vs. Miami Dolphins
While the Bills are looking like a true Super Bowl contender after two solid back-to-back wins, their AFC East rival, the Miami Dolphins, are looking like one of the best teams in the NFL.
The Dolphins crushed the Denver Broncos in a historic 70-20 win in Week 3, during which quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who only played one snap in the fourth quarter due to Miami’s insurmountable lead, completed 88.5% of his passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns.
Bills head coach and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott knows playing the Dolphins will be an entirely different beast than the Commanders, especially “when you got a team that put up 70 points,” he told reporters on Monday. “I don’t think I’ve seen that in my NFL career the entire time. So they’re very explosive.”
“Tua [Tagovailoa] is throwing the ball extremely well. And their schematics are almost revolutionary in what they do. Coach [Mike] McDaniel is very creative and does a lot of things to get you out of position on defense.”