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Top 3 Things We Learned

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Top 3 things we learned from Bills vs. Packers | Preseason Week 3

Gabriel Davis (13) celebrates his touchdown with Josh Allen (17) Buffalo Bills vs Green Bay Packers, Preseason Week 3, August 28, 2021 at Highmark Stadium. Photo by Bill Wippert
Gabriel Davis (13) celebrates his touchdown with Josh Allen (17) Buffalo Bills vs Green Bay Packers, Preseason Week 3, August 28, 2021 at Highmark Stadium. Photo by Bill Wippert

The Bills capped off their preseason with a 19-0 shutout win against the Green Bay Packers at Highmark Stadium. Buffalo has now won eight preseason games in a row. Although it doesn't count yet, this final preseason game gave us an idea of what we can expect this team will look like in 2021.

Here are three things to know about the final tune-up before Week 1.

1. Offensive starters show why they can take a step forward in 2021

The last preseason game served as a dress rehearsal for many of Buffalo's starters from last season. Head coach Sean McDermott announced earlier in the week that quarterback Josh Allen and most of the starters would see anywhere from one snap to more than two quarters of playing time.

The starters on offense in the first series: QB Josh Allen, WR Cole Beasley, WR Emmanuel Sanders, WR Gabriel Davis, TE Dawson Knox, RB Devin Singletary, LT Dion Dawkins, LG Jon Feliciano, C Mitch Morse, RG Cody Ford and RT Daryl Williams.

Most of that group played in the first three series before coming out of the game right before half.

"The plan was to, again like I said, get him into a rhythm and let him flow a little bit and then get him out," McDermott said. "He definitely got into a rhythm, and then we got sloppy and didn't execute and then came back and got into a rhythm, which was good to see. All good experience and things that come up during the season."

In the first series, Allen did not disappoint. He came out and had nine-straight completions on his first drive. Allen also spread the ball to several different receivers further proving the deep depth of the offensive weapons on the team. The first offensive drive ended with Allen throwing an impressive 31-yard touchdown to Davis on 3rd and 20.

"That play to Gabe, especially, we hadn't thrown that ball at all," Allen revealed. "We'd never gotten that rep because we just never got that look. So to be able to get a look like that, throw it and get a rep that counts, that's going to stay in the memory bank. But again it's just one of those things where it's added reps."

In Allen's third and final series, the QB1 orchestrated a 15-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a three-yard touchdown pass to Zack Moss. During that drive, Allen and Cole Beasley connected on a couple lights out plays that showcased how good their chemistry will be this season.

It wasn't just Beasley who had a nice connection with his QB. Gabriel Davis was targeted five times by Allen and caught all five passes for 75 receiving yards, including the one touchdown. It was also clear that Allen wanted to work with his newest weapon Emmanuel Sanders. He targeted the 12-year vet eight times and Sanders caught four of the passes for 27 receiving yards.

"It was fun," Sanders said. "Practices don't do it justice, truthful. It was up-tempo, no huddle, slinging the ball around. It was fun. We were supposed to play a half, but I looked to Stef (Diggs) and said, `I don't want to come out,' because I was just getting into my groove and kind of finding out."

Allen finished the day going 20 of 26 for 194 receiving yards and tacked on two touchdowns. He completed 76.9 percent of his passes and produced a 122.9 quarterback rating. The consistency we've seen out of Allen in training camp definitely translated to the final preseason game. He did a great job of placing the ball in the right spots and letting his receivers make plays.

The offensive line did an exceptional job of giving Allen the time he needed in the pocket to find his playmakers. There wasn't a huge focus on run blocking as the offense only totaled 29 rushing yards in the first half. The group did get another series together in the third quarter, which was one more than the rest of the offensive starters.

"I think the guys that are out there are doing a good job with playing next to the guys that they're told to play next to," Dawkins said. "But as you know, it's an up and down battle. Camp isn't over. Spots are going to be moved. People are trying to figure out exactly what is the best fit. But how they're doing it – it's working. I'm just glad to be a part of it for another year."

Scroll to see the best photos from the Bills' preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Highmark Stadium.

2. Bills defensive starters keep the Packers scoreless

The offense set the tone early by scoring on their first drive and the defense matched that energy with a strong first series.

The starters on defense: DE Jerry Hughes, DE Greg Rousseau, DT Ed Oliver, DT Star Lotulelei, LB Tremaine Edmunds, LB Matt Milano, LB A.J. Klein, CB Tre'Davious White, CB Cam Lewis, S Jordan Poyer, S Micah Hyde.

Lewis got the start over Levi Wallace (hip), Dane Jackson (stinger) and Taron Johnson (hand) who have been battling injuries this week.

The Packers had what looked like an opportunity to score right away, but the defensive showed up on the goal line. Klein had a big stop on 3rd and goal, and then on 4th and goal White broke up Packers quarterback Jordan Love's pass for a turnover on downs.

On the second defensive series, Green Bay made it to Buffalo's 21-yard line with another chance to cut Buffalo's lead. Love stepped back in the pocket, felt pressure from defensive end A.J. Epenesa and was forced to make a quick decision. Love tossed a lofty ball into the end zone and it was intercepted by Micah Hyde.

Even with a couple big plays on defense, Hyde thought the group could have done better as a whole.

"We want to do a lot better on third down," Hyde said. "We were unable to get off the field a few times for those first couple drives. But I guess at the end of the day, we had two red zone stops which is huge and kept them off the board so that's something to build off of."

The pass rush showed up once again by getting in Love's way and making him think quickly on his feet. Rousseau continued to make a case for why he should be a reliable piece to this year's defensive line by pressuring the quarterback on multiple plays.

"Getting after the quarterback, I love it," Hyde said of his thoughts on the defensive line. "That was an emphasis that going from last year to this year that we had to get take care of. Those boys are against the quarterback, I love it. We can rush four, and it's going to be fun to play on the back end when the ball is in the air."

The defensive starters had a few series together before different players began to sub in. It was enough time to get a taste of the improved defense we could see this year. With a better pass rush, the secondary had more time to shut down plays and hold them to being scoreless.

3. An undefeated preseason for Buffalo

Even though it doesn't count on the win-loss record, Buffalo's undefeated preseason is just what many of us needed to see to be convinced that this is an improved team from last season.

Like Tre'Davious White said on the broadcast, the starters had a chance to work out the kinks before it counts. The offense scored two touchdowns and the defense had a couple of red zone stops.

"I think we're in a good spot," running back Zack Moss explained. "Guys understand the mission and what the mission is. From everything that we've been throughout the training camp and everything like that, I think we're in a good spot. So I'm just excited for week one."

The second half proved the Bills have depth that is hard to mess with. Rookie defensive lineman Boogie Basham had a fourth down stop and safety Josh Thomas recorded a sack. Quarterback Jake Fromm scored a 13-yard rushing touchdown and other offensive weapons got a chance to make plays.

"I think it let some of the guys know the type of team, the type of offense that we are," Josh Allen said. "How we're going to operate, how we're going to do things. And some of the newer guys it's just kind of eye opening to be like okay this is how we do things.

"Again it's valuable reps for them as well, especially with guys getting hit and on the floor, and then let's pop up and then find the spot whether we go no huddle, huddle, whatever it is. Guys just being able to feel and experience that here, it's big for us and I think that's going to pay dividends in the regular season."

The team will have Sunday off before having one more practice on Monday before the roster is cut to 53 on Tuesday. Sean McDermott said the group will have Labor Day Weekend off before prep begins for Week 1.

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