BALTIMORE – Grading the Buffalo Bills on their 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium …
The Ravens were held without a point after Justin Tucker’s field goal late in the second quarter, allowing the offense time to complete a huge, come-from-behind, 23-20 victory before a crowd of 70,494.
They eyeball test and the stat sheet continue to tell a much different story about the Bills’ running game. Buffalo finished with 125 yards on 25 carries – an average of 5.0 yards per attempt – but it was quarterback Josh Allen who again led the team on the ground. Allen had 11 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown. He’s the only player on the team with a rushing touchdown in the first month of the season. Allen’s running ability is a huge part of the offense, but it continues to be less than ideal that the “traditional” way of running the ball hasn’t been more impactful. An example of why that remains troubling: The Bills’ first four second downs featured this many yards to gain to achieve a first down: 9, 10, 10, 10. Being unable to run the ball on early downs is putting the offense in tough spots. Devin Singletary had 48 yards on 11 carries, with a long gain of 18 yards, while Zack Moss was limited to just 6 yards on three carries. Other than last week’s 43-yard run against the Dolphins, Moss has really struggled. A 7-yard run by Singletary and a 3-yard run by Allen to get a first down put the Bills in position to kick the game-winning field goal with no time remaining.
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Allen started slowly through the air. His first three passes all could have been intercepted, and one of them was. His fastball was really humming at the start, but he could have stood to mix in a few changeups early. Stefon Diggs made four catches – each seemingly more difficult than the next – on his way to a team-leading 62 receiving yards. Dawson Knox had three catches for 40 yards. He continues to gut through injuries, and his 20-yard reception on a third-and-2 play on the game-winning drive was one of the biggest of the game. Isaiah McKenzie scored a touchdown for a second consecutive game, the first time he’s had such a streak in his career, before leaving the game with a concussion.
Safety Jordan Poyer was the playmaker with the critical interception. But multiple other Bills executed their assignments to perfection to lead to the big defensive stop.
One play that probably won’t get a ton of attention, but should: On second-and-goal from the Bills’ 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, linebacker Matt Milano dropped Ravens running back JK Dobbins for a 3-yard loss . That proved to be a huge play, because the Ravens couldn’t convert on the next two plays after they were right on the doorstep.
“Back’s up against the wall, I’m just trying to do anything. Get scrappy in there, you know?” Milano said. “You’ve got nothing to lose. They’re on the 1-yard line, so might as well take a shot.”
Milano tied his career high with 13 tackles. Milano had two tackles for loss, as did middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Baltimore’s rushing attack is a tough one to contain – the Ravens did gain 162 yards on 33 carries – and quarterback Lamar Jackson predictably was a headache to defend, as he led the way with 73 yards on 11 carries. Most of that damage seemed to come on designed pass plays when Jackson pulled it down and ran when nobody was open.
“That’s why we love him,” quarterback Josh Allen said. “He’s going to put his body on the line, and that interception was huge.
Jordan Poyer delivered two huge plays, with a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions. The first came on a tipped ball that was deflected by defensive tackle Prince Emili, a rookie undrafted free agent from Penn. The Bills sacked Jackson twice, with Von Miller getting his third of the season and Greg Rousseau sharing a sack with defensive tackle DaQuan Jones. Poyer had three of the Bills’ four passes defended. Nickel cornerback Taron Johnson took a pair of penalties on the Ravens’ last offensive drive.
The Buffalo Bills’ comeback victory has big long-term implications for the playoffs because Baltimore is a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the AFC, writes Mark Gaughan.
Tyler Bass was perfect on three field goals, from 38, 39 and 21 yards, the last of which won the game. Bass has made 85 extra points in a row, which is the fourth-longest streak in team history. He has a long way to go to catch Rian Lindell for the franchise record of 225 from 2003-10, but Bass’ streak is impressive given that it’s from a longer distance. Sam Martin had a beauty of a punt in the fourth quarter, pinning Baltimore inside its 5-yard line with a 56-yard boot. Martin averaged 45.3 net yards on his three punts. The Bills did not give up any yards on punt returns. The kick coverage gave up a 28-yard return to the Ravens’ dangerous return man, Devin Duvernay, but Tyrel Dodson also made a nice tackle on Duvernay for just a 12-yard gain on his other kick return. McKenzie had a 42-yard kick return in the first half.
Down by 17 points Sunday to the Baltimore Ravens and seemingly spinning their collective wheels, the Bills woke up late in the first half and controlled play in the second half of their comeback win.
The Bills trailed by 10-plus points at halftime under Sean McDermott for the 14th time Sunday. They improved to 1-13 with their first win in that situation. McDermott coached his 85th game in the regular season, moving into sole possession of third place on the franchise’s all-time list behind only Marv Levy (182 games) and Lou Saban (117). Only Levy has a better winning percentage at .615 – just higher than McDermott’s .612. The Bills used excellent clock management at the end of the game to bleed the clock out entirely, leaving no possibility of a miracle comeback by Baltimore. It wasn’t a perfect showing for offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey – the Bills’ first drive of the fourth quarter that started at the 50-yard line following Poyer’s first interception of the game was particularly ugly – but he managed to adjust to having just three healthy receivers. That Singletary went down at the end of his 7-yard run instead of scoring a touchdown showed great awareness on his part and shows that the coaching staff has been preaching about the importance of situational football.