ORCHARD PARK, New York — Bills rookie receiver Sammy Watkins would like to thank New England cornerback Darrelle Revis for teaching him a thing or two about getting open.
A week after being limited to a season-low two catches for 27 yards against the Patriots, Watkins responded by putting on a show in picking apart the Minnesota Vikings secondary on Sunday.
"Just going against him, your confidence has got to come up. I mean, he didn't beat me every play," Watkins said Wednesday, referring to Revis, a five-time Pro Bowl selection. "I think he knows I can compete with him. And once you get that down, you come out and play fast every week."
Watkins was not only fast, but nearly unstoppable in the 17-16 win over Minnesota. He finished with a season-best nine catches for 122 yards, and two touchdowns, including a 2-yarder with 1 second left.
"It was one of the best moments that I've had in the NFL," Watkins said.
It won't likely be his last.
Watkins is showing early glimpses of being worth the gamble Buffalo took in selecting the Clemson product with the No. 4 pick in the draft. The Bills thought so highly of Watkins' game-changing potential that they traded next year's first-round pick to move up five spots.
Watkins has now had a key role in three wins, as Buffalo (4-3) prepares to play at the New York Jets (1-6) on Sunday.
He had eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown in a 29-10 win over Miami in Week 2. Watkins' 20-yard catch over the middle set up Dan Carpenter's 58-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to seal a 17-14 win at Detroit three weeks ago.
And then came his outing against the Vikings.
Watkins also scored on a 26-yard catch. He helped extend the decisive drive with an 18-yard catch on third-and-12. And all nine of his receptions went for first downs.
Among NFL rookies, Watkins ranks first with 35 catches, with 27 of them going for first downs.
Watkins' production has increased despite the Bills' switch at quarterback three weeks ago, when veteran Kyle Orton replaced EJ Manuel as starter.
Orton, who didn't sign with Buffalo until a week before the season opener, credits Watkins for the instant chemistry.
"You get a guy who gets open like he does, call it chemistry, call it whatever, you're throwing it to an open receiver," Orton said. "He does a great job of getting open and making my job easy."
Watkins is also doing his part to help develop the bond with Orton. The receiver has been showing up at 6 a.m. at the Bills facility to watch film and go over the game plan with Orton.
"The work he puts in is great," Orton said. "And at such a young age to realize that is a special deal."
Whatever it takes, Watkins said.
"Whenever (Orton) needs me," he said. "I'm going to be there."
Watkins is driven to improve, and acknowledges being motivated by how high the Bills drafted him.
"It's a lot of things that go on with being drafted in the first round: 'Is he ready or is he too high or too low on himself?'" Watkins said. "I'm trying to dominate the defense. Whoever I'm going against, I'm going to overwhelm them."
"I think the next go-round when I play against Revis is going to be a great competitive matchup," Watkins said.
Stay tuned. The Bills close their season at New England on Dec. 28.
NOTES: The Bills are considering a switch at left guard, with veteran Kraig Urbik getting a shot to replace rookie Cyril Richardson after Orton was sacked five times against Minnesota. ... Orton is only the NFL's second quarterback since 1960 to throw for more than 280 yards in his first three starts with a team, according to STATS. Jeff George had a four-game streak with Oakland in 1997. ... WR Marcus Easley (left knee) practiced on a limited basis for the first time since being hurt in a loss to San Diego on Sept. 21.