Morning After: Bills Dominate in Season Opener Against Jets to Start 1-0


Even though the Bills prevailed over the New York Jets yesterday 27–17, despite a few miscues, their play on the field looked even better than the resulting 10-point victory.


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First Half

After the Jets received the opening kickoff, the Bills staunch defense, looking like they picked up from where they left off last season, forced a 3 and out. Buffalo then proceeded to get first downs on their first possession of the 2020 season until Josh Allen fumbled the ball on a designed run, his third in a row, at the Jets 21-yard line. In that opening drive the Bills rookie Gabriel Davis and offseason acquisition Stephon Diggs had their first catches. Davis’ first of his NFL career and Diggs’ first as a member of the Bills. The Bills defense continued to stifle the Jets offense and Josh Allen and crew looked to be in mid-season form as they scored on 3 straight possessions and held a 21 – 0 lead just past the midpoint of the second quarter. Allen started off the trio of touchdowns on a run-pass option keeper to the left side of the endzone untouched. He followed that up with a 4-yard touchdown pass to rookie running back Zack Moss where he had plenty of protection from the offensive line to survey the field, slide to his right and zip it to Moss for his first score as a pro. Allen then later connected with wideout John Brown with a quick out to the left which Brown ran in for the touchdown from 17 yards. The only points the Jets could manage was a 31-yard field goal by kicker Sam Ficken as time expired in the first half. It was a sharp showing on both sides of the ball by the Bills and lopsided halftime stats proved it. The Bills led the Jets in first downs 19 to 5, (the most first downs in a half for the Bills since 2012), yards 223 to 102 and time of possession 20:59 to 9:01. Allen did have a second fumble in the half getting tackled low and flipped on another run play. This time inside the red zone at the Jets 14-yard line. Allen finished the half with 20 completions on 26 attempts for 161 yards.


SECOND HALF

Buffalo received the second half kickoff but couldn’t do anything with it and went 3 and out for the first time. After punting and holding the Jets to just 13 yards on 6 plays, the Bills put together a drive that started at their 36-yard line and stalled at the Jets 20 with Allen being sacked on third down. That set up rookie and sixth round draft pick Tyler Bass, who’s strong leg beat out veteran Stephen Hauschka in training camp, for a 38-yard field goal attempt. The kicker from Georgia Southern proceeded to miss his first attempt as a professional, sailing the ball high and just wide of the right post. Looking at the replay it seemed that the kick may have indeed been good but was unreviewable due to the ball being higher than the upright as it passed over the crossbar. That seemed to energize the Jets offense as they took just 3 plays to go 72 yards for their first touchdown of the game and season. The bulk of it coming on a side out pass from Sam Darnold to speedy wide receiver Jamison Crowder who broke Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds tackle attempt and sprinted untouched down the right sideline for the score, his longest reception as a New York Jet. With the score now sitting at 21 – 10 in the Bills favor, Andre Roberts took the ensuing kickoff out to the Bills 32-yard line. Roberts kick returns had been setting up the Bills offense with good field position all game. That was his only kick return to go along with 5 punt returns that averaged almost 14 yards. Allen and company put together a good drive aided by a roughing the passer penalty on Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams but an incomplete pass attempt to Devin Singletary on third and 4 at the Jets 16 again set up Bass for his first field goal in the NFL from just 34 yards. Surprisingly, Bass again pushed the kick to the wrong side of the right goalpost for his second miss, this one not even close. After a Jerry Hughes fumble recovery caused by Justin Poyer, Bass finally put one through the uprights, this one a chip shot at just 22 yards. That was 2 plays after Josh Allen rolled to his left and missed a wide-open John Brown in the back of the end zone, sailing it five feet above his head. The Bills put together another time draining drive on their next possession but couldn’t punch it in from the Jets 3-yard line. That drive saw another roughing the passer called on the Jets. This time on linebacker Tarell Basham. Just like Quinnen Williams on the previous call, Basham made a low hit around Allen’s knees. Bass hit his second short field goal to make himself 50 percent for the day and put the Bills up 27 – 10 with just 3:15 left in the fourth quarter. The Jets used that time efficiently and Josh Adams ran 2 yards into the end zone to make the final score 27 – 17.


TIDBITS AND FINAL THOUGHTS

There were 2 big things that happened during this game for Buffalo, one good and one bad. The good was Josh Allen had his first 300-yard game finishing with 312 yards passing in the contest. That marked the first time a Buffalo quarterback eclipsed the 300-yard mark in a game since Tyrod Taylor did it with 329 on Christmas Eve 2016 in an overtime loss against the Miami Dolphins. Even more impressive for Allen was his completion percentage of 71.7 with 33 completions on 46 attempts and spreading the ball around to 8 different players. He seems to like his newest weapon Stephon Diggs who he targeted 9 times, with Diggs catching 8 of them for 86 yards. Allen also ran 14 times for 57 yards and his passer rating for the game was a notable 104.6. His 2 fumbles lost and missing an almost never seen wide open John Brown in the end zone prevented this game’s final score to be even wider.

The bad was that the Bills came out of this game a little bit banged up. And by a little I mean that four linebackers went out of the game with injuries. Matt Milano, who had an interception before he left the game, with a hamstring issue. Tremaine Edmunds left with a shoulder injury which seemed to stem from the play where he missed the tackle that sprung Jamison Crowder to score. Tyrell Dodson, who had his first career sack, with an undisclosed injury and Del’Shawn Phillips left with a quadriceps injury. While we don’t yet know the extent of any of these injuries, losing all four of them for any amount of time would be a huge problem for the Bills.

As impressive as Allen played, the running game, besides Allen, looked weak. The backfield of Singletary and Moss split just 18 carries evenly between them with Singletary gaining 30 yards and Moss just 11. The Jets are known for a demoralizing run stuffing defense and were second in the league last year holding opponents to under 87 yards per game. Even so, the Bills had no answer for the Jets defensive front doing as it pleased against the run. It’s most certainly a pass happy NFL nowadays but the Bills have to get much more production from their running backs than what showed up yesterday to continue to get victories.

The Bills defense overall was smothering and I’m betting the Jets touchdown in the final minute of the game when it was out of reach will eat at the pride of the defensive players and coaches alike. They held New York to just 254 total yards and 15 first downs. Buffalo had 2 turnovers and 3 sacks on the day and the Jets possessed the ball for less than 19 minutes for the game.

The Bills did have some discipline issues as they totaled up 7 penalties for 80 yards. Overall, not too bad, especially for game number one on the season, with no preseason games to get a feel for real gameday speed.

All victories are short lived at this time of the season in the NFL and the Bills will start to prepare for travelling south to Miami for another division game against the Dolphins next Sunday. Division matches are always tough fought and this will be no exception as Miami lost to The New England Patriots in their season opener and will desperately be trying to avoid going 0 -2 both overall and in the division.


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