1. Josh Allen shines on national stage
The lights are always bright on Monday Night Football, but in Week 13 in Arizona, Josh Allen shined even brighter. Buffalo's quarterback spearheaded a complete team effort as the Bills won for the fifth time in their last six games thanks in large part to an offense that scored more than 30 for the sixth time this season.
Allen looked like a surgeon with the way he sliced and diced the San Francisco defense with his receiving targets seemingly getting open at will. Buffalo's quarterback, who completed 19 of his first 23 pass attempts, called it one of their more efficient performances.
"We were clicking," Allen said. "It just seemed like our guys were getting open and the ball was coming out of my hand really well, protecting well. Yeah, it was a lot of fun out there. I'm not going to say it was our best game out there. But it definitely felt good to go out there and play the way we did and get win number nine."
Allen got off to a hot start and never took his foot off the pedal throwing for 375 yards and four touchdowns while having a completion rate of 80 percent. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Allen is the first quarterback in team history to attempt 40 or more passes in a game and complete at least 80 percent.
And the only other NFL player to perform that efficiently on Monday Night Football is Matt Ryan, who was 36-45 passing in a 2013 loss to the Jets.
His four touchdown passes lifted his total to 26 on the season giving him the third-highest single-season passing touchdown total in team history with four games left in the regular season.
Allen looked to be in a groove from the opening series. And though the offense's first two possessions resulted in a turnover on downs and a lost fumble, the Bills signal caller was never flustered and displayed complete command of Buffalo's offense.
"That's how he's wired and our offense feeds off it," said head coach Sean McDermott. "I just really appreciate the way he played the game. He played the game in a very patient way when he needed to be patient. He took some shots, when he when he needed to take some shots.
"Getting the ball to the backs like he did and the tight ends I thought was key just spreading the ball around as well."
Allen proved to be a headache for San Francisco's defense, which curiously chose to rush only four for most of the game and commit more bodies to coverage. San Francisco was never able to effectively keep Allen in the pocket as he was sacked just once in the game. He would often roll out to his left late in the down and made a number of plays off script.
"He was doing a great job of always extending plays with his legs," said Cole Beasley of Allen. "That helps us to give us more time to get open. Whenever you have a quarterback that can do that, it leaves a lot of opportunities for big plays. We go as he goes. Any time you've got a guy like that throwing to you, you never want to lose a route or let him down, because you know he's looking for you and he's going to get it there.
"He's been playing phenomenal this year. You know, we don't expect anything less from him. He's been leading this football team all year and he did a great job of that."
2. Defense holds San Fran run game in check
With a backup quarterback running the offense in Nick Mullens and a fortified running back contingent that saw the return of Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert the past two weeks, the Bills anticipated that San Francisco would lean on their very productive rushing attack on Monday Night.
Speed to the edge on run plays proved to be a critical part of Buffalo's successful effort in shutting down the 49ers run game and putting the game in the hands of Mullens.
"I thought it was big that we established the line of scrimmage and set the edges and the staff and the players executed extremely well," said head coach Sean McDermott. "This is a physical sport. You've got to be able to play physical. You got to be able to control the line of scrimmage, win the line of scrimmage and I think for the most part we did that on both lines offensively and defensively. That'll be the key to our success as we move forward as well and that's where the game is won and lost is usually up front."
Even though the Niners ground attack was productive early with 44 yards on 10 carries, the Bills defense forced a turnover on downs on a goal line stand that included a giant 4th-and-1 stop at the goal line by Tremaine Edmunds.
After those first 10 carries, the Bills would surrender just 42 more yards rushing for the remainder of the game as San Francisco had just 86 rushing yards for the game, their fourth lowest single-game total this season.
"That's what we are -- we're an attack-oriented defense," said Tre'Davious White, who had an interception at the goal line in the game. "We want to put the pressure on the quarterback and make the game one-dimensional, try to take out the run game and make the game easier by putting it in the quarterback's hands and make him throw it. That's definitely always our plan to come out and be the aggressor."
Rarely did the Bills allow the 49ers speed backs to get loose with the longest runs on the night going for 18 and 16 yards, which amounted to more than half the Niners rushing total in the game.
"We make the opposing teams fight for every inch, for every blade of grass," said Jerry Hughes. "That's Buffalo Bills football and our guys did a fantastic job."
3. Brian Daboll calls all the right shots
It was seen as a premier battle of strategy between hot head coaching candidates. San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll were set to match wits on Monday night.
In the end it appeared as though Daboll had a lot more of the right answers in Buffalo's 10-point victory.
Saleh had no solution for Buffalo's vaunted passing attack. Without the services of four of his top six cornerbacks the Bills receiving corps feasted for most of the night. Whether it was zone coverage or man coverage, Buffalo's wideouts were running free and Josh Allen was finding them with laser-like precision.
San Francisco's defense had surrendered a completion percentage of more than 75 percent just twice this season before Monday night to Miami's Ryan Fitzpatrick (78.5%) and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (80%).
"Well executed game plan by coach Daboll and his staff," said coach McDermott. "And Josh and our offense really did a nice job playing clean football. Josh, finding his receivers, some on schedule some off schedule plays as well, so that was good to see. And then the drive before half I thought was really at a high standard. It was elite with the clock management there and execution by the players."
Buffalo got the ball back late in the second quarter at their own 10-yard line with 1:05 left on the clock and all three of their timeouts. Following a Devin Singletary run for eight yards and a Cole Beasley catch for another seven to get a first down, the Bills called timeout with 32 seconds left.
Following an incompletion to Stefon Diggs on the next play, Allen would hit on his next three passes to Diggs for 18, Beasley for 20 and Gabriel Davis for 18, who alertly ran out of bounds to stop the clock with four seconds left. It allowed Tyler Bass to come on and kick a 37-yard field goal as the half expired.
Daboll's unit just seemed to be a step ahead of Saleh's for most of the night.
By game's end, Buffalo's offense had rolled up almost 450 yards of total net yards (449) averaged nine yards per pass play and held onto the ball for almost 35 minutes
Scroll through to see photos of all the action as the Bills take on the 49ers at State Farm Stadium, presented by Imagine Staffing.