The Bills took down the Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, improving their record to 5-2 atop the AFC East, while keeping the Jets as the only winless team in the league. 2 major factors that emerged and played significant roles in the win were the Buffalo defense, which has faced early season struggles, and rookie kicker Tyler Bass. Bass had missed some kicks early in his young career but his 6 field goals were the difference maker against the Jets. Here’s a recap:
Buffalo’s defense has often been a topic of discussion among Bills fans through 6 weeks of the season. Many people wondered how the defense had such a big dropoff from last season to this season. Fans knew the losses of key defensive linemen Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson would hurt, but the impact of these losses were greater than expected. A defense that had allowed 259 points last year, the second least in the league, has already allowed 178 points, 11th worst in the NFL. Their run defense ranks 12th worst in the league, and while the pass defense is still in the top half of the NFL, it is not close to the number 4 rank of last year. Buffalo’s secondary returned the majority of their core pieces from 2019, such as Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Levi Wallace, and Taron Johnson, and they even added former all-pro Josh Norman, but the secondary clearly had some struggles early on. It was evident Buffalo had a hole at their second cornerback spot opposite of Pro Bowler Tre’Davious White. Josh Norman and Levi Wallace have both missed extended time with injuries, and White also missed Buffalo’s delayed match-up against the Titans. Nickel corner Taron Johnson in his third year out of Weber State was looking to rebound off of a solid sophomore season serving as Buffalo’s primary slot corner, but struggled early on in the season, and has already allowed 30 catches for 417 yards. The revolving door at cornerback forced practice squad corners Cam Lewis and Dane Jackson into action at the outside cornerback spot. Jackson, the 7th round rookie out of Pittsburgh, played very well in his first game with a large role. Dane had 2 outstanding pass breakups on rookie Denzel Mims and even intercepted Jets QB Sam Darnold in the first half, which lead to Tyler Bass’ second field goal of the day. The pass rush had been a cause for concern as well, as only Mario Addison had more than 1 sack coming into the game against the Jets. Jerry Hughes has been able to put consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but was unable to pick up a sack until week 7. Hughes had himself a day against the Jets, tallying 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception. Hughes’ sacks were 2 out of the Bills 6 against the Jets offensive line. Sam Darnold had just 120 passing yards in his first game back from injury, and the Bills defense held the Jets to an astoundingly low 4 second half total yards of offense. Buffalo’s monster defensive performance in the Meadowlands could just be the key to turning around the Bills early season struggles, and bringing them back to the defense opposing teams feared in 2019.
While the Bills performance on the offensive side of the ball was not as pretty as on the defensive side, it was enough to get the job done. Josh Allen was unable to lead the offense into the endzone, but he did enough to put the Bills in position to get 18 points from their rookie kicker Tyler Bass. It was encouraging to see the offense move the ball so well, but it was a bit concerning that they were unable to finish off a drive in the endzone. Allen finished the game with 30 completions on 43 attempts for 301 yards. He also added 61 on the ground, which led the Bills running game. Josh consistently looked towards Buffalo’s reliable slot man, Cole Beasley. Beasley was targeted 12 times and caught 11 passes for 112 yards. The 31 year old veteran continues to be a consistent checkdown option for Allen on underneath routes out of the slot. He stepped up and put on his biggest game of the year in the absence of speedster John Brown, who was nursing a knee injury. Diggs had one of his quieter games of the season, as he caught 6 of the 11 balls thrown his way for 48 yards. While Buffalo’s passing attack continues to flourish, the running game has continuously staggered. Zack Moss had his best game of the season with 7 carries for 47 yards, including a 26 yard carry. Devin Singletary once again failed to get it going on the ground with 8 carries for 29 yards. Devin would likely have more success where he’s at his best: outside the tackles in open field. It’s up to Brian Daboll to design plays for Singletary to run to the outside,and for Singletary to look to bounce it to the perimeter if there are no holes up the middle. It’s hard to talk about the Bills win without mentioning kicker Tyler Bass. Bass, a sixth round pick out of Georgia Southern, hit 6 of his 8 field goal attempts, totaling all 18 of the Bills points. Buffalo became the first team since 1941 to win a game without scoring a touchdown or punting. The Bills will look to put touchdowns on the board next week and carry over their dominate defensive performance against their division rival New England Patriots.