Top 3 Things We Learned

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Top 3 things we learned from Bills vs. Ravens | Week 14

Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes (55) sack of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) Buffalo Bills vs Baltimore Ravens, December 8, 2019 at New Era Field. Photo by Bill Wippert
Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes (55) sack of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) Buffalo Bills vs Baltimore Ravens, December 8, 2019 at New Era Field. Photo by Bill Wippert

1. Bills defense came to play

Against an offense that had been running roughshod over the rest of the league, Buffalo's defense was instrumental in keeping the Bills in the game against the Ravens on Sunday.

Baltimore's offense averages 420 yards per game with 208 on the ground and 212 through the air. Buffalo held them to just 257 total net yards in the seven-point loss.

"I think they had 90-something yards in the first half," said head coach Sean McDermott of the Ravens offense. "Second half Hayden Hurst came up with a big play. We busted and had a lack of execution there. But overall I thought our defense did a phenomenal job."

A big reason why the Bills defense held Baltimore down was their ability to get off the field on third down. The Ravens offense had the lowest three-and-out percentage in the league entering Sunday's game at just 10.7 percent.

Not counting the kneel down possessions at the half and end of the game, Buffalo's defense sent the Ravens three-and-out on five of their other 12 possessions (41.6%).

"Tip our hats to our coaching staff, they did a fantastic job of getting us ready, making sure that everybody understood their jobs and what they needed to do," said Jerry Hughes, who had a sack and a pair of quarterback hits. "That helps us to go out there and play fast."

In fact, the Ravens were just 3-11 on third down conversions, for their lowest success rate of the season (27%). Baltimore came to Buffalo averaging just two punts per game. On Sunday they punted seven times.

"We held our own," said Micah Hyde. "We did a pretty good job, got a takeaway, got some three and outs, and at the end of the game we gave ourselves a chance to win."

The defensive front did an admirable job slowing down the Ravens vaunted rushing attack, holding them to just 118 yards rushing on the day, also a season low, and a yards per carry average of 3.6, which is two full yards below their season average.

Perhaps most impressive was the way they were able to keep Lamar Jackson under wraps, holding him to his lowest rushing total this season in games in which he had at least five rushes. Jackson had just 40 yards rushing on 11 carries.

"I thought we did a pretty good job of cage rushing him and keeping him in the pocket," said Lorenzo Alexander. "Obviously he made some good throws but overall I thought we did a good job as far as handling what they do and not getting flustered at all."

"Obviously we didn't get the result we were looking for," said McDermott. "Hard fought game both sides. That's a good football team. Give them credit. We've got to learn from some things that happened today to ultimately make us a better and stronger football team going forward."

2. Devin Singletary provided a spark

Buffalo's offense was stuck in neutral early in the game. Coach McDermott pointed specifically to a lack of execution in the fundamentals of passing and catching. After going three-and-out on their first two possessions, Buffalo went four-and-out and then three-and-out on a lost fumble by Josh Allen.

The offense finally found a rhythm in the second quarter when they decided to ride Devin Singletary.

After totaling four net yards on their first four possessions, Singletary gained 42 on seven carries leading to the team's first scoring drive as Stephen Hauschka put a 48-yarder up and through to finish it off.

"He made some plays for us," said Josh Allen of the rookie back. "He made some good runs. He made some guys miss. Our guys up front did a good job of opening some good lanes for him. He's a real threat for us and we've got to continue to get him going."

Singletary had four of the team's eight longest plays from scrimmage that did not involve penalty yardage, with the biggest being his 38-yard run in the fourth quarter that led to the team's only touchdown.

"I saw a big hole," said Singletary of that play. "The offensive line got a lot of push. My receiver got his block on his side so all I had to do was run."

By game's end he had contributed 118 total yards in the game to account for just over 56 percent of the team's total yardage on offense. But even Singletary knew their inconsistencies on offense ultimately cost them.

"In the beginning we got off to a slow start," he said. "They gave us some issues that we had to address. So it was tough throughout the game. We know what we did. We're going to go back and watch the tape and see what we've got to fix. We know we've got the team, so we're going to stick together and keep fighting."

3. Field position played major role in game

Coach McDermott admitted the lack of execution on offense was a critical factor in falling behind to the Ravens early forcing the Bills to play catchup. But what also contributed to that deficit was the poor field position on both sides of the ball.

Baltimore was the beneficiary of short fields on three of their four scoring drives, which only had to cover 27, 24 and 51 yards to put points on the board.

"That was big," said McDermott. "They're a good football team. They had some favorable field position in the first half in particular and then some in the second half, in the fourth quarter when they got the score there. Give them credit."

Bills punter Corey Bojorquez had some trouble on his kicks. After a 67-yard boomer to start the game, his 35-yard effort set the Ravens up at the Bills 45-yard line. The Ravens got a field goal from that drive start.

Later in the first half a Josh Allen fumble on a sack led to a Baltimore possession at the Buffalo 24. Five plays later they were in the end zone.

Bojorquez also had a 29-yard punt in the fourth quarter that only reached the Baltimore 49, and the Ravens got a touchdown on that possession as well.

"At times I thought Corey punted well, but at times I thought he'd want some of those back," said McDermott.

Buffalo's head coach also lamented the inability of his offense to take advantage of some favorable field position.

"We didn't get into a good offensive rhythm early and the field position was not in our favor," McDermott said. "And when you do have favorable field position, we have to do something with it. I thought we had a chance with the turnover there when we got the takeaway."

The Bills got an extra possession late in the first half off a Tremaine Edmunds interception, but gained just five yards on six plays forcing them to punt.

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