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Top 3 Things We Learned

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Top 3 things we learned from Bills at Chargers | Week 16


The Bills showed their toughness on the road with a go-ahead score in the final minute of regulation to beat the Chargers 24-22 Saturday night in Los Angeles. It wasn't an easy or pretty win by any means, but Buffalo (9-6) now rides into the final two weeks of the regular season on a three-game win streak.

Here are the top three things we learned from the win:

1 — Resilience overcomes stubbornness 

Coming off a convincing 31-10 win a week ago, Saturday's primetime game in L.A. was anything but simple for the Bills. A game that featured four lead changes — two of which occurred in the last six minutes of the game — saw Buffalo eventually come away with the victory thanks to a scoring drive that ran the clock down to under :30 followed by a defensive stop on three plays.

"Tough game, gritty performance by our guys," head coach Sean McDermott said. "They hung in there, we knew it was gonna be tough."

Added QB Josh Allen, "We gutted it out and found a way."

There will be very few statistics you can point to in this one and say the Bills had a clear advantage. They turned the ball over three times, the Chargers zero times. Allen was held to under 240 passing yards for the third straight game. The Chargers averaged more yards per rush than the Bills.

In many ways, this is the type of game Buffalo wound up on the losing end of earlier this season. Not tonight.

"This is our playoffs, doesn't matter how we get 'em done, just get 'em done," Allen said of the team's mentality.

The Bills have had their backs against the wall since dropping to 5-5 at the midway point of the season. They found themselves in that same spot down 22-21 with 5:26 to go. Allen drove the Bills across midfield but were still not quite in comfortable field goal range with under 3 minutes to play.

On a 3rd and 8 play from the L.A. 45 yard line, Allen fired a missile on an out route to Stefon Diggs, a perfectly placed ball from the Buffalo quarterback and great hands by Diggs to corral the heater and pick up 11 yards for the first down.

"I told this to him in the locker room — season and game on-line, 14 is going to be our go-to target. He knows that," Allen shared. "I think everybody in the world knows that. For him to just, again, put his head down, he's been working hard. It was the biggest play of the game, in my opinion."

Three plays later, Allen nearly had his fourth TD of the game when he completed a pass to Khalil Shakir who went to the ground to make the catch, got up and sprinted to the end zone. Upon further review, Shakir was ruled down by contact by a Chargers defender but still managed to get the Bills to the 13 yard line, easily within Tyler Bass' range.

While a touchdown would have been great, the reversal allowed the Bills to bleed the clock down to :30 seconds before Bass drilled the go-ahead field goal.

"Analytically, probably, yes," Allen said. "As an offense, we want to score a touchdown and put them in an even more difficult situation. Obviously, not scoring there allowed us to wind the clock down a little bit, they wasted their third and final timeout. If you want a three versus a seven-point lead, obviously, they would have one timeout there with that touchdown." 

Bass is now 9 for 9 in his career on go-ahead FGs with 2:00 or less. 

Up 24-22 with under :30 seconds to play, DT Ed Oliver sacked QB Easton Stick with no timeouts left, leaving the Chargers in scramble mode. Los Angeles ran an end-of-game pitch the ball around play, but to no avail as the Bills pulled through. McDermott spoke about the importance of Oliver's timely sack.

"The last one was huge just to burn so much time off the clock because it really put them in pretty much they can only do one or two things right there. They have a really good field goal kicker so really, we only had about 20-25 yards to play with right there," he said.

The Chargers didn't get into field goal range and Buffalo came away with another resilient late-game win.

2 — Return of Big Game Gabe 

It was a boom week for Gabe Davis.

The Buffalo wide receiver who didn't have a catch in the team's last two wins hauled in four of his six targets for a season-high 130 yards and a touchdown.

"He just stayed with it," McDermott said. "The ball finds you when you do things the right way and I'm extremely proud of him for it. It's a credit to him to credit to his week-to-week approach."

With the Bills trailing 10-0 and needing a spark, Allen and Davis connected on a 57-yard shot in the second quarter. It was Allen's longest passing TD of the season and Davis' 7th TD catch of the year, tying a career-high for the fourth-year player.

"I just extended the play a little bit," Allen said. "I peeked at their boundary safety. Khalil was coming over the middle of the field, his eyes were on him. Gabe did a good job of just trusting it and going deep. It's something that we practice a lot and something that we haven't really done all that much this year, so it was good to get that one on the field."

Davis excelled at running go routes and hitch routes Saturday, according to Next Gen Stats. On six hitch routes, he had three targets for two catches and 77 yards, including the TD. He had two other catches on go routes for 53 yards with one of them setting up a Josh Allen TD run.

Davis has been an enigma for the Bills offense this season but as one of the team's captains, his teammates have shouted him out many times this season for his leadership and work ethic. That was on display Saturday night.

"The mental toughness of that kid to not get down and not let that beat him down, it's very impressive," Allen said of Davis' approach. "He works hard. He doesn't complain. He just keeps doing his job. Opportunity finds him."

3 — Stick to the plan

The strength of Buffalo's defense this season has been their pass rush and it took a while on Saturday for that unit to get going.

The Bills dug themselves multiple holes in this game. In the first half it was the 10-0 deficit that they found a way to get to a 14-10 halftime lead. In the second half Buffalo turned it over twice: an Allen interception and a James Cook fumble.

That led to short fields for the Chargers when Buffalo could have had ripe opportunities to put the game away. 

"You can't turn the ball over three times," McDermott said "It's hard to win when you do that. Especially when the turnover differential is 3-0."

Defensively, they stuck with their plan of getting to the quarterback and getting pressure on Easton Stick. Buffalo sacked Stick five times, with two of those sacks on third down to force a field goal. In total, the Bills defense forced the Chargers to settle a field goal on four of their six possessions in the second half.

"I thought our guys settled in and responded. We did a good job in the red zone, third down as well," McDermott said.

With DT Jordan Phillips out, DT Poona Ford was active and got his first sack of the season. Oliver continued to be dominant with two sacks; Terrel Bernard and Rasul Douglas got home on blitzes for the other two sacks of Stick.

Buffalo's defense now has 50 sacks this season, tied for the 3rd most in a single season in franchise history.

Check out the best on-field and in the locker room images from the Bills' close win in Los Angeles.

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