OPINION: Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Packers at Bills preseason

Buffalo shuts out the Packers to go undefeated in the preseason
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The Buffalo Bills won their eighth-straight preseason game, and finished their second-consecutive exhibition season undefeated, beating the Green Bay Packers, 19-0 at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park.

So, once again, I’ll start with the Arrows Up:

ARROW UP:

Sean McDermott

The Bills coach leaves no stone unturned, playing out every scenario and situation he can in preseason to prepare his team. This included sending quarterback Mitchell Trubisky into the game for exactly one play, without knowing he was going to be called upon. It was just so they could get that operation down in case it happens in the regular season due to an injury or equipment issue with Josh Allen. With a veteran and very talented roster, McDermott has found a great balance between evaluation and preparation for the regular season.

Josh Allen

For how much was debated about Allen starting in this game and how much he would play, it all went as well as could be scripted, both literally and figuratively. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll put together a great game plan to keep his franchise quarterback protected, and still get maximum efficiency throwing the football. Allen was fantastic, connecting on 20-of-26 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns, including a fabulous strike to Gabriel Davis on 3rd-and-20 from the Packers’ 31-yard line.

Gabriel Davis

We hadn’t heard from Davis much this preseason, but we heard a ton from him in this game, collecting a game-high 75 yards on five catches, including that 31-yard touchdown strike from Allen.

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Jake Fromm

Fromm wasn’t spectacular, but he was solid. He made good decisions, showed poise, and ran the offense efficiently when he was in. This included diving into the end zone for a touchdown after a nice scramble to get out of trouble. He finished 10-of-16 for 87 yards passing, and was actually the Bills’ leading rusher with 17 yards on three carries.

Matt Breida

We finally got to see the speed element Breida brings to the offense, taking a jet sweep handoff and getting to the edge for a 10-yard scamper. He also added two receptions for another 10 yards.

Kerrith Whyte

Whyte was just signed by the team this week, but went out and gave them valuable snaps to give the other running backs a break. He looked like he’s been playing in the offense for years, knowing exactly what to do. He ran hard and also caught three passes.

Cole Beasley

The Allen-to-Beasley connection looked in mid-season form. The Bills’ slot receiver caught four passes for 52 yards.

Goal line, red zone, and fourth down defense

The Bills defense was great in small spaces. It started on the Packers’ very first drive when the Bills held them out of the end zone on four-consecutive plays from the seven-, three-, one-, and one-yard lines. Then, safety Micah Hyde stopped another drive with an interception in the end zone. The Packers went for it on fourth down four different times and converted only once. They were also 0-for-2 in goal-to-go situations and 0-for-3 in the Bills' red zone.

Third down offense

The Bills were a blistering 69.2% on third downs, covering 9-of-13 of them into first downs or touchdowns.

Marquez Stevenson

Just one week after injuring his foot and having a walking boot on, the Bills rookie did a really good job handling punts, averaging 12.5 yards per-return on a pair of them, and also catching two passes for 15 yards.

A.J. Epenesa

Epenesa had to be pressed into long-snapper duties due to Reid Ferguson being out. There was one questionable extra point snap that holder Matt Haack wound up mis-handling, but even that one looked good enough that it maybe could have been handled, and he was perfect on two punts and one other extra point snap. Overall, a very nice job in a tough spot for Epenesa.

Siran Neal

Neal was all over the field making plays and being physical. He finished as the team’s leading tackler with six total stops on defense and another on special teams. His versatility, athleticism, and physicality were all on display in this contest.

Justin Zimmer

Zimmer filled up the defensive stat sheet, finishing with five total tackles, including one for a loss, a sack, and two quarterback hurries.

Andre Smith

Another strong performance from the linebacker, who finished with three total tackles and a near interception pass breakup.

Micah Hyde

Against his former team, Hyde came up with a big interception in the end zone, stopping a Packers drive, timing it perfectly to get up and grab the ball before it come down.

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ARROW DOWN:

Packers' first drive

Of course it ended exactly how the Bills wanted with no points on the board, but the Packers moved the ball far too easily on their first possession, gaining 74 yards in 12 plays and getting down to the Bills' one-yard line.

Run defense

They came up with big stops when needed, especially in short yardage, but overall, the Bills' run defense gave up too much. The Packers ran for 118 yards, averaging 4.2 yards per-carry.

Penalties

It wasn’t the amount of penalties that hurt the Bills, because they only had four for 30 yards. It was the timing of them, which negated several important plays or gave the Packers valuable yards.

Long pass plays given up

The Bills gave up three passes (or catch-and-run) of, at least, 23 yards. By comparison, the Bills only had one - the touchdown pass to Davis.

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