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Top 3 Things We Learned

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Top 3 things we learned from Bills vs. Patriots | Week 8

Zack Moss (20) Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots, November 1, 2020 at Bills Stadium. Photo by Sara Schmidle
Zack Moss (20) Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots, November 1, 2020 at Bills Stadium. Photo by Sara Schmidle

1. Run game carries offense

On a wet and windy Sunday that eventually was just windy, Buffalo leaned on their rushing attack more than any other time this season and it proved up to the task in carrying the Bills offense to a 24-21 victory.

The result was a season high 190 yards on the ground and a season high, five yards per carry average.

"It was really good, obviously getting our guys going, Zack and Motor they ran the ball extremely well," said Josh Allen. "Our front five and our receivers and tight ends opened up some really good holes for them, but they ran the ball extremely hard. So super happy for that and getting the run game going and something that we got to continue to build on."

Buffalo's game plan was clear, establish the run and keep on running it. On their first three scoring drives, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll had seven runs on 10 plays, four runs on five plays and nine runs on their final nine-play touchdown drive of the game. All told 20 of the 24 plays run on their touchdown drives were on the ground.

"I think we did a really good job with just being consistent in our game, and in making our reads as running backs and just watching our O-line work and give us space and finishing our runs," said Zack Moss, who had a career-high 81 yards on 14 carries and the first two rushing touchdowns of his career. "That was the biggest thing continuing to get positive yards."

By the time the game was over the Bills had more than twice as many run plays as pass plays with all three touchdowns coming on the ground as well. on Sunday and all three touchdowns scored by the Bills came on the ground as well.

Buffalo's outside zone run plays were consistently productive most of the game, including Moss' first of two touchdown runs.

"The first (touchdown) was one of our outside zone plays that we've run all year on the left side," Moss said. "The line did a really good job of just giving me a seam to hit, and I was able to find the end zone on that one.

"The second one was a little dirtier look in the red zone, but I stuck my foot in the ground and then I did get a huge push from my offensive line. So that touchdown is mostly theirs on that one."

Going forward, the Bills know the weather is only going to get more unpredictable. Demonstrating an ability to run with the kind of effectiveness demonstrated on Sunday is a sign that Buffalo's offense can diversify if necessary.

"Me and Devin are two capable guys and the offensive line is more than capable, and we have the receivers that we have which makes our offense really unstoppable," Moss said. "And early in the year (the run game) wasn't really consistent like we wanted it to be. We'd have plays here and there, but right now is the most important time and all we can focus on is right now and everything in front of us. So, after this game going to continue to just do what we've been doing, put our heads down, not worry about everything else and just try and continue to be the Buffalo Bills team that we showed (Sunday)."

2. Red zone rebound

Buffalo's successful rushing attack was critical to a turnaround in the red zone on Sunday as well. After going 0-for-5 in the red zone last week against the Jets and needing six field goals from Tyler Bass to lift them to victory, the Bills offense reached the end zone on each of their first three red zone possessions.

"I thought once we got into the red zone, for the most part, we were able to stay on schedule and stay out of the negative plays," said head coach Sean McDermott. "So I thought that was big for us. And then, just the execution again by the players, the physical nature of our offensive line, the physical nature of our backs and tight ends blocking the run game, carrying the ball, and then Josh made a big run in there as well with great ball security, so it was all hands on deck and great to see the execution."

What helped were big plays set up red zone scores. Zack Moss had a 21-yard run to set up first-and-goal from the eight-yard line on the first touchdown drive.

"We had a really good dose of outside zones called up all (game) that me and 'Motor' were hitting all (game) and our offensive line, especially our tackles and guards did a really good job of just making our reads really clean for us," said Moss. "Being physical at the line of scrimmage and just giving us some space to exploit the defense."

The second red zone touchdown drive was set up by a Stefon Diggs catch and run that went for 41 yards to set up first-and-goal at the four-yard line, even though that wasn't the play call.

"It was a shot play and they flew out and we didn't have a chance to throw it and he did a good job of working back to me," said Josh Allen. "I just got it to him and he made the play from there. So, you know that's what you love to see from 14 there and our guys were working extremely hard."

The final red zone touchdown drive took a little more effort as the ran six plays before Allen scored on a quarterback draw after Daboll ran an empty set to spread the defenders across the field and take them out of the box.

The Bills finished the game 3-for-4 in the red zone, which in many ways proved to be the difference in the game as New England managed just one touchdown on three red zone trips.

3. Finally a win over New England

It was a bit of a nail biter at the end, but for the first time for both Josh Allen and coach McDermott, Buffalo finally got a win over the Patriots. McDermott had been 0-6 against the Patriots in his first three seasons as Bills head coach before Sunday's victory.

For Allen it was the only division opponent against whom he had yet to post a victory either.

Both head coach and quarterback were downplaying the significance of the game leading up to Sunday as they tried not to make it too big for themselves, but they knew what the significance of a victory would mean for the fans.

"It gets me emotional," McDermott said. "All week long we try and go through it, one day at a time, process, process, process but we know what this game means to our fan base and just really, really special. I wish they could have been in the building honestly to experience it. It would have been crazy I'm sure and hopefully everyone at home enjoyed it."

And after outlining how he and his teammates approached the matchup with the Patriots, Allen also provided a reminder that they still have to face New England on the road in Week 16.

"Our mindset was just going 1-0 and trying to find a way to get to number six and that was really our only focus," he said. "We understood what the Patriots have meant to this division for a long time. The thing is we're going to play them again. We've got to prepare when we get there and be ready to play them because that's a really good football team that we just played. They don't handle losing very well over there and they'll find ways to pull themselves back into it with the coaching staff that they have and the type of players that they have. So I've got a lot of respect for them. Make no mistake, we played a good team, but we got our job done."

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