The Bills achieved another one of their goals for the season by winning their first playoff game since 1995 against the Colts last Saturday. Their work is not done. The team knows that with Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens coming to town Saturday night, they have to be laser-focused in practice this week. Coach Sean McDermott said that the team will have to be on their A-game with how the Ravens have been executing on offense, defense, and special teams.
"There's no substitute for experience in any situation, and this situation included," McDermott stated during his weekly call with WGR 550. "But at the end of the day, each game is somewhat individual, it's separate from the other games. So, at the end of the day, we've got to execute because they do a lot defensively. A lot of volume, they got quite a few veterans on that defense that have played a lot of football and they throw a lot of things at an offense. So, we're gonna have to be on our A-game."
Here's what other Bills had to say about the team's preparation before they face the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night.
"Our first goal is to win this one"
Josh Allen continues to make plays on the field that are helping this football team win games. Against the Colts, he became the first quarterback in NFL history to have at least a 70% completion rate (74.29%), 300+ passing yards (324), and 50+ rushing yards (54) in a single postseason game. This week will feature a matchup between the two teams' strengths with the Bills offense ranking second in points scored (31.3) against a Ravens defense ranking second in points allowed (18.9). Allen knows that it is a big week for this football team and is thrilled to be able to play in front of Bills Mafia again but to him, the most important thing is to get a win.
"It's win or go home, it's playoff football and it's only getting tougher from here," Allen said. "We've got a great opponent coming into Buffalo and another chance to go and play in front of our fans. I know there are only 7,000 of them but it's still 7,000 Bills fans so just getting that opportunity is great. I love this game; I love playing this game and the more opportunities I get to play this game is what I want to do and giving us another shot. Our first goal is to win this one and if we don't, we're going home, and you know it's never a good feeling especially losing at home. So, I think everybody in this locker room is completely focused on the task at hand right now."
"It's gonna be a physical four-quarter ball game"
The Ravens offense is one of the most dynamic offenses that this Bills team will have faced all season. They have the number one rushing attack in the league and are averaging 29.3 points a game. According to NFL Media research, the Bills are just one of six teams in NFL history to allow 160+ rushing yards in the Wild Card round and still win. This week, controlling the line of scrimmage will have a big impact on the game. Veteran Jerry Hughes talked about how important it is to pay attention to the small details and how that can help them when trying to contain Lamar Jackson on Saturday.
"The details at this point of the season are very important," Hughes explained. "I think that is probably the most essential thing just because you can get so much information from film study, the details and notes that the coaches are telling you throughout the week. … For us this week, when you're dealing with a dynamic offense with Lamar Jackson, somebody who can go from 0-60 and score that fast, the details are big. You got to just keep him contained, you got to stick with the game plan that we have, keeping him contained and then just rallying to the football. We talk about that, rallying to the ball and putting bodies on him early, and let him know that it's gonna be a physical four-quarter ball game. We don't want to do anything cheap but it's football. So, if there's anybody running the football you want to put bodies on them and just let them know it's physical and that we're going to be hitting you every time you run that ball."
"In the playoffs, everybody knows the defense is looking to get turnovers"
The Ravens defense is one of the best units in the league at forcing turnovers. They are tied for sixth in the league in total takeaways and rank third in forced fumbles recovered by the team with 12. A big reason for that success is Baltimore's defensive backfield and their ability to punch the ball out of their opponent's grasp. Ball security is a big focus for the Bills this week because they don't want to give the Ravens extra opportunities to score. Stefon Diggs talked about Baltimore's top two cornerbacks and how he has been preparing to go up against them this week.
"Marlon Humphrey is the best in the league right now at the Peanut Tillman punch - the Peanut Punch," Diggs said. "He's done it extremely well, and Marcus Peters definitely has some turnovers as well as far as stripping the ball. But it's something that you want to not only note, but you want to be working on it in practice. As far as just guys stripping at the ball and punching out the ball because it's going to happen in a real live game. They've done extremely well with it this season and even in the past, I think in the previous years, not just this year he had a number of forced fumbles last year as well. So, it's something that you not only just take seriously but something that you need to work at because it is a real live situation and it's the playoffs. In the playoffs, everybody knows you are looking to get turnovers. You're looking to create ways and to get ways to get the defense the ball, so it's something that we've taken pretty seriously."
"We are a confident bunch"
The Bills and Ravens are coming into this game both playing their best football of the season. Buffalo is currently on a seven-game win streak, while Baltimore has won their past six games. This Bills defense was able to see Jackson's speed on display when the two teams played each other in 2019. Having that past game experience can only help this team so much but Micah Hyde is confident that his guys will go out there and play complementary team ball to help lead the Bills to another postseason victory.
"The confidence is always there, Hyde explained. "The confidence is sticking to our routine and sticking to what got us here. The preparation and preparing and watching a lot of film and trusting your coaches and trusting your techniques in practice. Obviously, it's a different dynamic when you have running quarterbacks. Everybody on the defense has to account for that 11th guy. And it's tough, it obviously is but that's the challenge that a lot of these guys bring and we're up for it. Just sticking to the plan and going out there and playing team ball. It's not just their offense against our defense for the whole 60 minutes. They have to worry about our offensive and worry about our special teams and they have to worry about our defense. So, we are a confident bunch and as long as we go out there and play our game, we should be fine."