OPINION: Bills turn into ground-and-pound team for a day

Josh Allen and the Bills' passing game had a rare off day against the Falcons

The Buffalo Bills began the New Year by going old school in a 29-15 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

With the passing game a little off, it was the Bills' ground game that drove the offense. That, along with stout defense, allowed the Bills to clinch a playoff berth for a third-straight season and a fourth time in five years under head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane.

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One week after torching the New England Patriots' pass defense, Josh Allen had his first three interception game since Week 4 of the 2019 season. Those picks came in three-straight drives, spanning the second and third quarter.

The first one came as the result of a bad decision by Allen. On a 3rd-and-8 at the Falcons' 10-yard line, Allen tried to give his guys a chance to make a play, but no one was open and he should have tossed the ball out of bounds. It stopped a drive where the Bills were looking to add to a 14-5 lead.

Atlanta would put together a touchdown drive after that takeaway to pull within two points.

The next interception came on a throw where Allen missed Cole Beasley, but it's possible Beasley wasn’t where Allen expected him to be.

The Falcons turned that into a field goal that gave them a surprising halftime lead.

No big deal, right? The Bills would get the ball to start the second half and would surely go right down the field for a touchdown, as they did on their first drive of the game, right?

Allen promptly came out and threw another interception. Allen had time to throw, since the Falcons only rushed three, but the player they held back as a spy tipped the pass at the line.

That made for three picks over four pass attempts.

I wasn’t nervous about the Bills losing the game, because I figured the self-inflicted mistakes had to stop at some point.

This is where the defense and the Bills' running game would come up big.

After that third interception, the Bills defense forced a three-and-out. Greg Rousseau blew up a run for a tackle for loss on first down, Ed Oliver came up with a sack on second down, and after an incomplete pass on third down, the Falcons punted instead of trying a field goal of about 50 yards on a bit of a windy day. (Not crazy, violent storm winds like the home game against New England).

At this point, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll opted to keep the ball on the ground. The Bills put together an 11-play, 80-yard drive, with 10 of the plays being runs.

Devin Singletary, who has been playing his best football of late, had seven of those runs for 41 yards and the touchdown. Allen had three runs for 30 yards, although two of those were scramble runs after dropping back to throw.

Following another stop by the Bills defense, it was more ground-and-pound.

The Bills ran the ball nine times during a 12-play, 65-yard touchdown drive. The work load was divided among Allen, Singletary and Zack Moss. That gave the Bills a 29-15 lead, and if you were nervous at all, you probably felt much better at that point.

The way the defense was playing, along with the fact that talented rookie tight end Kyle Pitts had been sidelined by an injury, there was no way the Bills were going to blow that lead.

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The Bills ran a season-high 44 times on Sunday, with the previous high (40) coming in a Week 4 blowout win over the Houston Texans. They totaled a season-high 233 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.

As far as the passing game, Allen was just 11-of-26 for 120 yards and those three picks.

For those of you that think the Bills are too pass-heavy or are concerned that they don’t run the ball well enough to win games in bad weather conditions, this game should ease your concerns for the time being.

The offensive line did its job up front, and the skill guys did their job too, allowing Allen (15 rushes for 81 yards) and Singletary (23 rushes for 110 yards) to have all of that success.

Leslie Frazier’s defense gave up just one touchdown on nine Atlanta drives. They held the Falcons to 1-for-7 on third down, 1-for-4 in the red zone, 1--for-3 in goal-to-go plays, got five sacks and took the ball away once thanks to a Rousseau strip sack.

With the victory, the Bills set themselves up for a chance to clinch a second-consecutive AFC East division title by beating the New York Jets at home to close out the regular season.

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