OPINION: Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Chargers at Bills

The Bills improve to 8-3 on the 2020 season
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The Buffalo Bills beat the Los Angeles Chargers 27-17 on Sunday in Orchard Park.

The game didn’t go quite as many had expected, but the Bills improved to 8-3 for the second straight season and got right back into the win column.

This means we go right back to the Arrows Up to start:

ARROW UP:

The running game

The Bills finally got the kind of production they’ve been looking for out of the running game, rushing for 172 yards overall on 30 carries, averaging 5.7 yards per-run. They were particularly good running the ball after halftime, amassing 117 yards on 6.64 yards per-run in the second half.

Devin Singletary

Aside from a fumble (see below), Singletary looked like he did his rookie year, getting to the second level and exploding for big runs, including a 24-yard and 21-yard carry, as well as a big 14-yard screen pass catch-and-run. Singletary finished the game with 82 yards on only 11 carries, for a whopping 7.5 yards per-run. He also caught three passes for 20 yards for a 102-yard offensive day.

Zack Moss

Moss was almost just as explosive as Singletary, carrying the ball only nine times, but for 59 yards, averaging 6.6 yards per-carry, including a huge 31-yard gain in the fourth quarter. It eventually went as a 16-yard gain for the offense after Moss was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct after the play. He flipped the ball towards the field and officials said he flipped it at the defender, which he clearly didn’t. Moss added two catches for nine yards for a 68-yard day.

Gabriel Davis

The rookie wide receiver was targeted only four times, but caught three passes for 79 yards, including a big 44-yard reception on a free play after Josh Allen threw it deep after noticing a defensive offsides at the snap. He also caught a touchdown pass from wide receiver Cole Beasley. Davis’ catches were all big ones. They went for 20 yards and a touchdown, 15 yards, and 44 yards.

Cole Beasley’s dime

As he’s done several times this year, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll dialed up a trick play, this time having Beasley receive a backward pass then throw it downfield to Davis. Beasley, who threw for over 1,500 yards one season as a high school quarterback in Texas, delivered a beautiful toss for an easy touchdown.

Tyler Bass

After some early-season struggles, the Bills rookie kicker has been sensational over the last month-and-a-half. He nailed every one of his five kicks, including a pressure 43-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10 points late in the game. Bass has now converted on his last seven field goal attempts and 10 of his last 11, only missing a 61-yard try at the end of the half against the Seattle Seahawks. He’s also now pushed his overall percentage on field goals and extra points combined to 88% on the season.

Andre Roberts

Roberts did what Roberts does. One of the best return men in the game continually gave the Bills excellent field position all afternoon, returning four kickoffs for an average of over 27 yards per-return. He had a kickoff return for 38 yards and punt return for 18 yards. Following kickoffs, the Bills drives started at their 30-, 43-, 32-, and 34-yard line.

A.J. Klein

How good has Klein been lately? It’s just remarkable the turnaround he’s had after a really rough start to the season. Klein was all over the field on Sunday, finishing with 14 tackles, the most of any player on the field, including three tackles for loss, plus 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hurries, and a pass breakup.

Tre’Davious White

White was dialed in early-on in this game. He had excellent coverage on a couple of balls that went his way right away. Then, even after allowing a couple receptions, he came up with a huge interception in the fourth quarter, just like he did against the Seahawks in the team’s last home game. He finished with eight tackles, two pass breakups, and the big interception.

Jerry Hughes

Hughes was disruptive, as usual, most of the afternoon. He frequently got into the Chargers backfield and forced Justin Herbert to either hurry the ball or flush out of the pocket. He finished the game with four tackles, including one for a loss, half of a sack, and two quarterback hurries.

Defensive job on Keenan Allen

The Chargers wide receiver came into the game leading the league in targets and receptions. Sure enough, they continued to target him a lot, but the Bills really did an excellent job to limit his production. Overall, Herbert threw the ball Allen’s way 10 times, but he only caught four passes for 40 yards, although one was a short touchdown pass.

It wasn’t just one player, either. The Bills used different combinations of coverages and personnel on Allen, and they really seemed to press him a lot at the line of scrimmage, getting hands on him early, forcing him to adjust routes.

Overall pass defense

Herbert threw for 316 yards, which is not a great number to allow if you’re the Bills defense. But consider this: Herbert threw the ball more times than he had this entire season, thus his entire career so far, with 51 attempts. But he only completed 31 of them for a 59.6% rate. He wound up with 6.08 yards per-attempt, the second-lowest of his very good season. Until a late Hail Mary was caught on a fourth down prayer, Herbert was held to just 261 yards passing and an extremely low 5.22 yards per-attempt. Those are all excellent numbers for the Bills defense.

Taron Johnson

Johnson has looked like the player we saw his first two years in the league over the last few games. Against the Chargers, he was responsible for covering Allen on several occasions, and did a good job when that was the case. He also blitzed a few times, registering two quarterback hurries to go along with two pass breakups and six tackles.

Third down defense

The Chargers started the game by going three for their first five on third down opportunities. They didn’t convert a third down the rest of the game, going 0-for-11 after that, for a 3-for-16 (19%) line overall.

4th-and-1 stop

On the very first play of the fourth quarter, with the Bills leading 24-14, the Chargers faced a 4th-and-1 from the Bills’ 25-yard line and went for it. The Bills came up with a huge stop behind the line of scrimmage to hold on downs and get the ball back.

ARROW DOWN:

Pass protection

Josh Allen was under duress far too much in this game. He was sacked three times, but also hurried eight more times. Due to the constant pressure, he also made several key mistakes of his own, trying to avoid a negative play. But the Bills, as an offensive unit, did not do a good job protecting him. That was against a Chargers defense that did not blitz very often. They got to Allen with only four pass rushers in most cases.

Daryl Williams and Dion Dawkins

Both of the Bills’ offensive tackles had a rough day trying to block Chargers pass rusher Joey Bosa, who lived in the Bills backfield all afternoon. Bosa was almost unstoppable, regardless which side of the Bills offense he lined up on. He finished the game with eight tackles, including six(!) for a loss, three sacks, five quarterback hurries, a fumble recovery, and a pass breakup for good measure.

Josh Allen

Allen’s efficiency was good. He completed 18-of-24 passes, which is an excellent 75%. He only threw for 157 yards, often keeping things underneath and checking down, which helped that number, but the reason he makes this side of the list is for the decision-making that cost him, and almost cost him and his team. Allen threw several passes under duress that he shouldn’t have. One was intercepted near midfield in the fourth quarter of a one-score game after he threw it off his back foot. Allen also lost a fumble after a bad center exchange after he tried picking it up instead of falling on it.

Devin Singletary’s fumble

As pointed out above, Singletary was having an excellent game. But just when the Bills had a chance to put the Chargers away, leading 24-14 with the ball at their own 37-yard line in the fourth quarter, Singletary got loose for a nice eight-yard gain, but fumbled the ball and the Chargers recovered. That set them up in excellent field position and instead of the Bills possibly adding to their 10-point lead, the Chargers kicked a field goal to cut it to seven points.

Ed Oliver’s back-to-back penalties

On that very same drive resulting from Singletary’s fumble, the Bills came up with a big third down stop and Los Angeles was going to have to attempt a long 49-yard field goal. However, Oliver was called for roughing the passer, giving them a first down at the Bills’ 16-yard line. Before the next snap, Oliver was called for being in the neutral zone, costing another five yards. The defense ultimately stopped them again, but those 20 yards in penalties helped make it a much easier 27-yard field goal instead.

Three fourth quarter turnovers

The Bills had plenty of chances to put the game away a lot earlier than they did.  They were leading by 10 points headed into the fourth quarter, but proceeded to give the ball away on three straight possessions.  First, it was Singletary’s fumble, then Allen’s fumble, followed by Allen’s interception.  Luckily for them, the Chargers only converted one of those turnovers into three total points.  But that’s how you let a team stay in the game.

Lack of Stefon Diggs in the first half

This can be looked at a bit different because Diggs was actually thrown to twice in the first half. However, one was a defensive pass interference after an incompletion and the other was a completion that didn’t count due to offsetting penalties. So, officially, the Bills did not target Diggs in the first half at all. Even if those two targets counted, two is far too low for any half for the Bills’ No. 1 wideout, who was then targeted nine times in the second half. He caught seven passes in total for 39 yards.

Fourth down defense

The Chargers went for it on fourth down five different times.  They converted four of them.  As good as the Bills defense was on third down, they still let Los Angeles off the hook too many times after that.

Another Hail Mary

After giving up a Hail Mary to lose their last game in Arizona against the Cardinals, the Bills gave up another one at the end of the game. This time on a 4th-and-27, a 55-yard heave down to the two-yard line, caught, once again, between three Bills defenders.

Penalties

The Bills committed nine penalties for 85 yards. Far too many for too much.

Follow me on Twitter: @SalSports

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