1. Cole Beasley and John Brown opened up the game with their separation
After giving up more passing yards than any other defense in the league in Week 1, the Bills were able to take advantage of New York’s troubled secondary. Using the separation ability of Cole Beasley and John Brown, Buffalo converted four of their first five third down opportunities.
“(Offensive coordinator Brian) Daboll had a good plan to help us out and get us free and it’s just up to us to execute what he was calling,” said Cole Beasley. “We did a good job of that today.”
On the team’s second possession, Beasley stretched out to make a catch over the middle to convert a 3rd-and-4. It kept the Bills drive alive, which eventually resulted in a six-yard touchdown run by Josh Allen.
“I thought that third down conversion early to Cole, he had a great catch over the middle. It was a huge conversion for us,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “He’s a heck of a competitor. I’m glad he’s on our side.”
On their next offensive series facing a 3rd-and-10, Brown got separation over the middle to move the chains. Three plays later, the Bills were facing a 3rd-and-5 and again Allen found Brown in the middle of the field again for a seven-yard pickup for another conversion.
Then facing a 3rd-and-10 for the second time on the drive, Beasley got open and curled away from his defender to get beyond the line to gain for a 12-yard pass play and another conversion to extend the possession. One play later Devin Singletary was in the end zone.
Brown and Beasley would combine for long down and distance conversions on the team’s third touchdown drive with Brown converting a 2nd-and-9 with a 15-yard reception and Beasley making good on a 1st-and-20 after a holding penalty with a 51-yard play as he was wide open. Isaiah McKenzie capped that drive with a TD as well.
In the first half alone, Beasley and Brown combined for seven receptions for 112 yards and all four of the team’s third down conversions. Their ability to get consistent separation was a big reason why Buffalo was three for three in the red zone in the first half.
“As long as we separate he’s going to find us,” said Beasley of Josh Allen. “That’s our job to do that for him. He’s got the skill set and he’s great at finding open receivers. So we just do our part and he’ll do his.”
In the second half, the offense sputtered in the third quarter, but after the Giants made it a one-score game (21-14), Brown surfaced again delivering a pair of big plays with gains of 12 and a huge 17-yard play to convert a 3rd-and-6 to set up a 1st-and-10 at the Giants 23 with eight minutes left in the game.
Brown and Beasley finished with a combined 11 receptions for 155 yards and all five of the team’s third down conversions.
“We got open in the passing game and made some plays,” said Allen. “I think it goes back to practice. Just how we practice. They work extremely hard, all of our receivers, tight ends, running backs, our O-line. Everybody works extremely hard. When you can do that and see the results it makes you want to work that much harder. That’s something we’ve been able to do in practice and translate it to the game.”
2. Josh Allen leads a strong red zone effort
In 2018, the Bills ranked 16th in the NFL with a red zone touchdown percentage of 59.5 percent. Through the first two games of the 2019 season the Bills have been perfect. Buffalo converted its only red zone opportunity in Week 1 for a touchdown, and on Sunday the Bills were a perfect four-for-four in their 28-14 victory.
“That’s been big for us. To go into the red zone and go in and get seven has been big for us,” said McDermott. “Those are obviously difference makers in the game because of the point spread at that point.”
Josh Allen opened the scoring with a six-yard touchdown run as he got a quality block from Dawson Knox.
On the team’s second possession in the red zone, Allen handed off to Devin Singletary who got a lane outside and exploited it for a 14-yard touchdown.
Finishing off the Bills’ third red zone possession was Allen, who delivered a shovel pass to Isaiah McKenzie, and the receiver streaked around the formation to the end zone for the team’s third touchdown.
“We’re just doing a good job of executing,” said Allen. “Everybody knows their assignments. We’ve been well coached, especially our O-line by (offensive line coach) Bobby (Johnson). Just making sure that our keys are where they need to be and our running backs are doing a good job of finding the end zone.”
Buffalo’s final red zone score came thanks in part to a Giants penalty on a short field goal attempt by Stephen Hauschka. The kick was good, but a personal foul by the Giants gave the Bills a fresh set of downs and a second shot at a touchdown.
The Bills converted as Frank Gore pounded a carry in from a yard out to keep their perfect touchdown scoring percentage intact.
“We practice the right way during the week,” said Gore of the team’s success inside the 20. “Trying to do it right in practice and it carries over into the game.”
Allen with a rushing and passing touchdown in the red zone has now had at least one of each over his last three games. It’s the longest streak by an NFL quarterback since Cam Newton’s three-game streak in 2014.
His rushing touchdown also made him just the second quarterback in NFL history to score 10 rushing touchdowns in 14 games or less joining Cam Newton (11 games).
Allen went 19-30 passing for 253 yards with a touchdown pass for a final passer rating of 101.1.
3. Team effort to fill the nickel corner role on defense
With primary nickel corner Taron Johnson out with a hamstring injury, the Bills chose to fill the void with three different players on Sunday against the Giants.
Safety Dean Marlowe, backup nickel corner Siran Neal and cornerback Kevin Johnson all rotated in and out through the course of the game.
“Our coaches had a game plan for us and we executed it throughout the week,” said Marlowe. “Everyone played a part and did their job. Everyone was taking care of what we had to do. We came out of it with a good win.”
Marlowe appeared to be the big nickel corner, who operated almost like a third linebacker on early run downs when there were two tight ends on the field. Neal would rotate in for some early and middle down work when the Giants used three receivers. And Johnson would come on mostly for third downs when tight coverage was required.
“Yeah it was a great job by those guys stepping in and stepping up. That’s what we do,” said McDermott. “They prepare like crazy. Even last week when Siran went in he had prepared all week and he was ready to go. We saw some of that today as well. Kevin Johnson went in there and Dean Marlowe went in there. I can’t say enough about the way these guys prepare and the work ethic they take into every week.”
Both Russell Shepard and Bennie Fowler were utilized most in the slot by the Giants as they were without primary slot receiver Sterling Shepherd, who was out with a concussion.
On the whole, the trio of players for Buffalo kept the Giants slot options under wraps as there wasn’t a pass play by those players that covered more than 14 yards.