After a huge second half comeback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Buffalo Bills ultimately lost in overtime, dropping their second game in a row and fifth of their last eight contests.
That means we start with the Arrows Down once again:
A big reason the Bills got down as they did in the first half was their inability to protect Josh Allen. It wasn’t just the offenisve line. It was running backs, as well. Allen was under heavy pressure most of the first thirty minutes which contributed to three sacks that half alone.
Third down offense
The Bills finished the game a putrid 2-of-13 on third down for just 15.4%. They were 0-for-5 in the first half on third down, where they not only couldn’t score, but had a lot of trouble sustaining drives.
First half defense
The Buccaneers offense did almost anything they wanted to do in the first half against the Bills. Things just seemed way too easy. They racked up 303 total yards. Tom Brady threw for 216 yards and Leonard Fournette ran 10 times for 72 yards.
Long run against
Another week, another huge early run given up by the Bills defense, this time a 46-yard touchdown from Leonard Fournette. It’s an emotional gut-punch to start the game.
Not defending Chris Godwin well enough
Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin caught 10 passes from 105 yards. The Bills had no answer for him early in the game, when he grabbed 7 catches for 91 yards in the first half.
Spencer Brown against Shaq Barrett
The Bills rookie offensive tackle really struggled blocking Barrett, who had 1.5 sacks and FIVE quarterback hurries.
Sean McDermott’s fourth down decisions
The Bills were trailing 10-0 in the first quarter. They were having a lot of trouble stopping the Buccaneers. They were faced with a fourth down and goal from the Buccaneers 3 yard line and McDermott elected to kick a field goal to stay down seven instead of go for it and possibly cut the lead to three. It was reminiscent of the AFC Championship Game in Kansas City when McDermott played it too conservatively even knowing it would take a lot of points to win the game.
Then on the first drive of the second-half, the Bills had a 4th and 2 from their own 45 yard line, now trailing 24-3. Instead of keeping their offense on the field to try and get those yards, they elected to fake a punt. Matt Breida was stopped short. Their best chance to get those two yards was with the offense and Josh Allen. The fake punt did not surprise the Buccaneers defense considering it was near midfield and only two yards away from a first down.
Last play blown coverage
Tremaine Edmunds was the player running down the field with Breshad Perriman on the game's final play, but it was clearly a blown coverage that left that matchup. Between Dane Jackson, Levi Wallace, and Taron Johnson, there was some sort of miscommunication. A critical breakdown at the most critical time.
Once again the Bills hurt themselves with costly penalties. Although some were debatable (see below), they still wound up with seven called against them for 65 yards.
I’m always one to say I never blame the officials, and I’m certainly not going to write that they were the sole reason the Bills lost the game. Buffalo had plenty of opportunities. However, the inconsistent pass interference calls, including the one that went against Levi Wallace that should not have been called, and the absolutely indefensible non-call on Stefon Diggs in the end zone were killers for the Bills.
There were also two other times Diggs looked to clearly be held, including on the Bills last offensive play, in overtime, on third down, and one when he had his man beat for a possible touchdown. There was also the non-reversal of what appeared to be a third down stop by the Bills defense in overtime. The officials were terribly inconsistent, and just plain bad. The Buccaneers were usually the benefactors.
Whatever was said. Whatever adjustments were made. Whatever happened at halftime, it worked. The Bills trailed the Buccaneers 24-3 midway through the third quarter, but the Bills came all the way back, outscoring Tampa 24-3 themselves over the final twelve minutes of the second half.
Allen was simply incredible in this one. He became just the fourth player in NFL history to throw for at least 300 yards and run for at east 100 yards in one game, finishing with 36-of-54 (66.7%) for 308 yards, two touchdowns and in interception. He added 109 yards and a touchdown on the ground, averaging 9.1 yards a carry. Allen finished with 417 yards of total offense and carried the Bills on his back in the second half.
Brian Daboll’s willingness to not hand off
It wasn’t a perfectly-called game by Brian Daboll, but for any offensive coordinator to not hand the ball of once during an entire first half is noteworthy, and in this case, considering the Bills struggle so badly running the ball like that, I give him a lot of credit for being willing to do it.
Second half defense
What a turnaround it was in the second half, where the Bills held the Buccaneers to just 110 total yards and Tom Brady to just 76 yards passing.
Red zone defense
The Bucs entered the Bills red zone four times, but only scored two touchdowns (50%).
The Bills punter was sensational in this game, punting six times and pinning the Buccaneers inside their 20 on four of them. The Bucs started at their own 2, 10, and 6 yard lines the last three times they started a drive after a Bills punt.
Milano did a bit of everything, collecting nine tackles, including one for a loss, a sack, and two quarterback hurries. His sack came on third down late in the fourth quarter, setting the Bills up for their final offensive drive.
Filling in for Tre’Davious White, Brady picked on Jackson a lot. He never wavered, finishing with two pass breakups and seven total tackles.
Gabriel Davis’ fight for yards
On the critical last fourth quarter possession for the Bills, they were faced with a 4th-and-4 from there own 40 yard line. Allen completed a pass to Gabriel Davis, which was at least a yard short of the first down. But Davis showed incredible tenacity to gain the first down and keep the drive alive.
9.1 yards per-carry
The Bills may not have handed the ball off much, but when they did, and when Allen ran, they were excellent. Allen ran 12 times for 109 yards. Devin Singletary ran four times for 52 yards, and Matt Breida ran three times for 12 yards. The end result was a whopping 9.1 yards per carry as a team, on 19 runs.
Late fourth quarter clock management
The Bills did an excellent job of clock management on their two late touchdown drives, as well as on defense in between, going 70 yards in five plays, then 46 yards in nine plays, scoring touchdowns on both and taking only 5 minutes, 18 seconds to do it. They used timeouts wisely on defense and the right pace/tempo on offense, ultimately getting the ball back and scoring a gain to finally tie it.
Spreading the wealth
Seven different Bills players caught a pass from Allen, and four of them caught at least one for at least 24 yards.
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