For the first time in 22 seasons the Bills have the No. 1 defense in the NFL. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier led a unit that did not have a single player named to the Pro Bowl to the top ranking not only in total defense, but six other major defensive categories including points allowed, pass defense and third down defense.
Buffalo didn't just surge to the top spot in the league at the end of the season. The Bills were number one in total defense for the last 15 weeks of the regular season. Since Week 4 they had occupied the top spot. They've also been the number one pass defense for 11 out of the 18 weeks this season. And they've been first or second in points allowed in 14 of the 18 weeks played this season. It's been a front to back type performance.
"I'm super proud of those guys, but let me just make sure I'm clear here," said head coach Sean McDermott. "Leslie Frazier runs the defense and I want to give credit where credit is due. This is not Sean McDermott's defense, this is Leslie's defense. And those defensive coaches have done a phenomenal job and those players. So, it was an outstanding performance and there will be bigger challenges ahead for us."
For now, though, only Buffalo's 2021 regular season is in the books and this is clearly the most consistent performance by Frazier's unit in his five years on McDermott's staff.
The Bills finished the regular season ranked first in the following categories.
- Total defense – allowing 272.8 yards per game
- Total yards per play – allowing 4.6 yards
- Passing yards – allowing 163 per game
- Passing yards per play – allowing 4.65
- First downs allowed per game – 16.7
- Third down conversion rate allowed – 30.8%
- Points per game – 17
"It's just a blessing to be a part of this defense, honestly," said Micah Hyde, who has been on board for all five seasons under Frazier. "We show up each and every week of practice, we try to get better. We emphasize takeaways and the D-line getting after the quarterback and the back seven getting after the football. This is obviously a blessing that just goes to show what we were able to do. Just a love that we have on this defense, guys just want to go out there and play for each other."
Even Buffalo's last number one defense in 1999 only ranked first in two categories, total defense (272.8) and pass defense (163). Seven categories ranking first in the league is simply extraordinary.
Buffalo is the first defense to finish first in the league without a Pro Bowl player on their unit since the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers.
Other 2021 records achieved by the Bills
- Point differential +194 (old record: +165, 1990)
- Average margin of victory 22.1 is a team record and the fourth largest since 1970 (NFL record: 24.4 by Cin. in 1989, 22.9 by St.L. in 1999, and 22.3 by Pit. in 1976)
- First quarter points 102 (old record: 97, 1975)
- Most first downs in a season with 398 (old record: 397, 2020)
- Most total yards gained in a season with 6,493 (old record: 6343, 2020)
- Most pass attempts 655 (old record: 612, 2002)
- Most pass completion 415 (old record: 410, 2020)
- First possession touchdowns 8 (most since 1970 - old record: 7, 1990)
- Multi-touchdown games by individual players 8 (old record: 6 in 2020)
Individual player records
- Josh Allen – most pass attempts 646 (old record: 610, Drew Bledsoe 2002)
- Josh Allen – most pass completions 409 (old record: 396, Josh Allen 2020)
- Cole Beasley – tied single season high in reception (82)
- Stefon Diggs – set NFL record for most receptions in his first two seasons with the Bills 230 (old record 223, Wes Welker 2007-08)
- Stefon Diggs – First Bills player with back-to-back 100-reception seasons (127, 2020; 103, 2021)
- Stefon Diggs – tied single season touchdown receptions record (10)
- Devin Singletary – set single season high with eight total touchdowns