Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Bills-Jets

September 8, 2019
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The Buffalo Bills opened the 2019 season with a terrific come-from-behind victory, 17-16 over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Let’s get right to it, starting with the Arrows Up:

 

ARROW UP:

  • Resiliency

Whatever you want to call it, the Bills showed it. They were down 16-0 and then 16-3 heading into the fourth quarter, but they just kept playing and battling and made enough plays down the stretch to come away with the win. Head coach Sean McDermott has been preaching, and the team has been practicing these very types of scenarios and situations since the first day of OTAs. It paid off in a big way to open the season.
 

  • The Buffalo defense

Overall, the Bills played a terrific game on defense. They allowed total of just 223 yards, including just 68 on the ground. Jets quarterback Sam Darnold threw for only 175 yards, the Bills sacked him four times, and New York found the end zone only once. They held running back Le’Veon Bell to 60 yards on 17 carries, for a 3.5 yards per-run average. Of the 16 points given up by the Bills, only eight were given up by the defense. The defense certainly bailed the offense out of some horrible situations, especially in the first half.  
 

  • Josh Allen’s fourth quarter

Allen was magnificent when the chips were down late in the game. The Bills had two drives in the fourth quarter, both going for 80 yards or more and resulting in touchdowns. Allen’s fourth quarter numbers: 8-for-10 for 102 yards, 1 touchdown passing, plus 11 yards rushing and a touchdown.
 

  • RB - Devin Singletary

The rookie started off a bit shaky, dropping one pass and bobbling another, but when the Bills finally handed him the ball, he was special. Singletary’s first-ever NFL handoffs went like this: 20 yards, 23 yards, 12 yards, 15 yards. He finished the game with those four rushes totaling 70 yards (a 17.5-yard average)! All of that came on one drive in the fourth quarter. He added five catches for 28 yards for a game total of 98 yards from scrimmage in his NFL debut.
 

  • WR - John Brown

What a way for the free agent acquisition to begin his Bills career. Brown hauled in seven catches for 123 yards, including the game-winning 38-yard score with 3:00 left in the contest.
 

  • P - Corey Bojorquez

The Bills punter suddenly shows up on the Arrow Up side after appearing in the Down column throughout the preseason. He did exactly what his team needed on his three punts, including one 60-yard boot. The three Jets drives started after punts were from their own 5, 20, and 20-yard lines.
 

  • S - Jordan Poyer

Poyer was all over the field for the Bills, collecting a team-high nine total tackles, including one for a loss, to go along with a sack and a quarterback hurry.
 

  • LB - Matt Milano

Milano had to do-it-all against the Jets. He was very good against the run, but also had to play quite a bit of pass coverage. But he did it all well, finishing tied with Poyer for a team-high nine total tackles, one for a loss, and two quarterback hurries.
 

  • Shaq Lawson and Jerry Hughes

Lawson continued his great preseason play and joined Hughes by constantly harassing the Jets offense at or behind the line of scrimmage. Hughes was simply dominant at times up front, collecting three total tackles, 1.5 sacks, a tackle for loss, two quarterback hurries, and two batted passes. Lawson also batted down a pass, had a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hurry, and four total tackles.
 

  • DB - Siran Neal

Neal showed up on the stat sheet with with seven tackles, which is nice, but he makes this list for how he handled having to come into the game for an injured Taron Johnson and play almost the entire second half. He did a nice job fitting into the defense and knowing his role, making a couple timely stops down the stretch.

 

ARROW DOWN:

  • Turnovers

Of course this section starts with the four turnovers the Bills had in the first half. That’s inexcusable. Allen had two interceptions on his stats, but one was a clear drop into the hands of Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley that went back for a touchdown. The other was a batted ball at the line of scrimmage, which he is partially responsible for. But Allen was careless with the ball while getting sacked, resulting in a lost fumble, and then didn’t have a good exchange with center Mitch Morse on a fourth down that resulted in another lost fumble.
 

  • WR - Cole Beasley

Beasley was the one who dropped the pass from Allen that resulted in the pick-six. It hit him right in the hands, but popped up into the air. Then he dropped a pass late in the fourth quarter that would have resulted in a first down. Beasley finished with five catches for 40 yards, but all of that was in the first half. He had no catches in the second half and was only targeted on that one drop.
 

  • Third down defense

The Bills allowed the Jets to go 7-for-17 on third downs. That’s 41% overall and too high. But it wasn’t just the high frequency of conversions, it was also the number of long third downs the Jets converted. They made good on 3rd-and-11, 3rd-and-6, and 3rd-and-9 for a touchdown, just in the first half. The Jets also converted on their one fourth down attempt before their final drive.
 

  • Not handing the ball to Devin Singletary earlier

Brandon Beane was right when he said it after the draft: Singletary is really fun to watch. Hindsight may be 20/20, and Mosley may have been on the field, but watching Singletary do what he did in the fourth quarter has to make you wonder if the Bills would have been in the same spot they were at that point had they handed him the ball at all before that. Thankfully for them, the four runs for 70 yards weren't wasted and went a long way to a victory. But now that he's shown what he can do on an NFL field, hopefully we'll see more - and soon - of the Bills rookie running back.

 

THE BIG PICTURE:

Ever since the schedule came out in April, everyone had said this was a huge game for both the Bills and Jets. Two teams who both built their teams around their second-year quarterbacks who they traded up to draft. Both spent big money in free agency to add talent and weapons. To make the playoffs, the Jets might have to beat the Bills. The Bills might have to beat the Jets if they want to end up in the postseason. Both have high expectations for themselves, and this opening game was going to be a tremendous litmus test for each team.

For the first three quarters, there were a lot of similarities to the 2018 Bills. They couldn’t get out of their own way on offense and had to have their defense bail them out. But there’s only so long the defense can hold things in check before the game ultimately gets away. Allen made some nice passes and plays, but also some horrible decisions. For three quarters, it looked like a carbon copy of too many games we’ve all seen before.

But then something happened.

It started with Mosley leaving the game with a groin injury. With Mosley out, the Bills started to attack the teeth of the Jets defense, mainly with Singletary. That opened things up for Allen and the passing game to start hitting some shots down the field. One touchdown. A defensive stop, as they had been making all game. Then another touchdown. In a span of about seven minutes, the Bills went from down 13 points and staring at an 0-1 start with not even a touchdown to show for it, to starting off with a huge road win against a division opponent, and watching Allen out-duel Darnold and complete a signature comeback.

So now we watch and see just how important, just how big, this game was for the Bills. How far can it take them? How much will it matter by the time these two teams play again in Week 17? We wait and see what it does for Allen and the offense. We watch to see of Singletary can replicate that type of incredible, brief performance. We see if the defense can keep doing it, over and over again.  

The good news is we only have to wait seven days to find out, right back at the same stadium they just played Sunday, against the New York Giants.

I already can’t wait for Week 2. I need to know.

 


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