1. Josh Allen’s performance a resume-builder
It was not a pretty stat line for Buffalo’s quarterback at halftime. A pair of interceptions off tipped passes and a pair of lost fumbles by Josh Allen took points off the board for the Bills. More importantly it compromised what was an efficient first half of passing as he went a respectable 15-23 for 141 yards.
Fortunately for Allen and the offense, Buffalo’s defense kept it a one-score game at the break. Regardless of the score, Buffalo’s second-year signal caller stayed in the moment and resolved to put together a much more effective final two quarters.
“We understood that sometimes football happens,” said Allen of his thoughts at halftime. “A couple of things happened that didn’t go our way. As long as we took care of the things we needed to take care we were going to have success. We were moving the ball. I put the ball in some spots where I shouldn’t have and some went the other way. We tried to keep our composure there and our defense was playing fantastic so we knew we’d have a shot in the second half.”
Allen protected the ball, took more of what the defense gave him and took the big shot at the right time. The result was a 9-13 passing performance for 113 yards, with the biggest completion a 38-yard touchdown toss to put the Bills ahead in their come-from-behind one-point victory.
“It was third down. I knew the play we had was a shot play and we had post high. John was on 27 and I trusted him to go make a play,” said Allen. “A little stutter route basically. I gave him a chance and he made a play. That’s why we brought him here. I’m just glad our team was resilient enough to overcome some of the things that we had. I’m just proud of this team.”
What Allen left out was how he looked off the safety to give Brown enough room down the sideline to reach the end zone, and hung in the pocket an extra half second to let the route develop and took a shot after making the throw.
“That’s a resume builder,” said head coach Sean McDermott of Allen’s second-half comeback performance. “To be able to look at yourself and say I brought a team from behind on the road. He was very composed. He knew if he needed to hurry us up or slow us down or if we were going for it on fourth down. It was well managed overall. To me a lot of it goes back to how he practiced.”
Allen’s composure was recognized by his teammates as much as his performance.
“We get down and you see the confidence in our guys, but that goes back to our quarterback,” said Jerry Hughes. “Him being out there, showing that confidence and being that example and it went throughout the entire team. You can feel that energy.”
2. Pass rush has success
On a day where a lot didn’t go right for Buffalo early, their pass rush looked to be in midseason form. The men up front put a good deal of heat on Sam Darnold, particularly in the first half.
The Bills pass rush got home on Darnold four times with four different players recording QB takedowns. Lorenzo Alexander (0.5), Jerry Hughes (1.5), Shaq Lawson (1.0) and Jordan Poyer (1.0) all posted sacks with three of them coming in the first half.
“Some of that was being able to take advantage of their interior guys who didn’t play much on their side,” said Alexander. “I don’t think any of those guys played in the preseason. So when you can match up Jerry, Trent, Ed, myself and Star, we have a lot of guys who can get after people. So being able to change some of the looks on them we were able to get some pressure with some good blitzes that we had this week.
“Then just some guys hustling, making some plays, like the one Shaq had. Just guys playing 100 percent and never giving up and straining. That’s what we want to do.”
It marked the first time the Bills defense has had 3.0 sacks or more in the first half since December 2, 2018 at Miami.
Their play was a big reasons why despite four turnovers by the Bills offense, that Buffalo was only down 6-0 at halftime.
“I know we were down and had several turnovers, but unlike last year when we played Baltimore we were still in the game,” said Alexander. “Defensively, we were able to keep them off balance and get off the field on third downs. And we kept the game within striking distance and the offense made some plays at the end and gave us a chance. I never felt like anybody ever put their head down like the game was over.”
Buffalo also had nine quarterback hits with Hughes and Matt Milano each notching a pair and five other players getting shots on the Jets quarterback. Additionally, the defensive front had five batted passes.
“I know how we communicate our pass rush games,” said Hughes. “I liked our hungry attitude and willingness to be nasty for four quarters. That’s what we needed.”
They essentially kept the Jets passing game under wraps for most of the game as Sam Darnold finished with just 175 yards passing.
3. Devin Singletary lifts run game
Buffalo’s run game did not look good early against the Jets. Frank Gore got the first four carries of the game, which produced just nine yards. Even worse was a carry from his own end zone didn’t clear the goal line resulting in a safety.
It wasn’t until the third quarter when rookie Devin Singletary finally got an opportunity that we witnessed a shift in run game production.
His first carry went for 20 yards into Jets territory on a drive that resulted in Buffalo’s first points of the game on a 43-yard field goal.
On the ensuing possession, Singletary accounted for carries of 23, 12 and 15 yards for a total of 50 yards on the ground on what wound up being an 85-yard scoring drive. He also chipped in a five-yard reception on the possession.
“The big guys got moving up front and I saw some holes and just hit them,” Singletary said.
Singletary’s 15-yard run at the tail end of the 85-yard scoring drive set up first-and-goal at the Jets’ three-yard line. One play later, Josh Allen scrambled in for the first Buffalo touchdown of the game to make it a one-score game 16-10.
“Motor comes in and makes some really good runs and made a couple of catches and provided a spark for us,” said Allen. “One was an unbelievable cut. He tucked inside and got outside. I don’t know how he did that. That’s the kind of thing he brings to the table. He’s very elusive and very slippery. I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Singletary finished with four carries for 70 yards and chipped in five receptions for 28 yards in his NFL debut.