Oh, what a difference a week can make.
After dropping an incredibly winnable game to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 9, many pressed the panic button on the Buffalo Bills’ 2021 season. How could this team be a serious Super Bowl contender if it dropped a game to a team that hadn’t won on American soil in over one year?
Well, this is how.
Buffalo bounced back in its Week 10 matchup with the New York Jets, dismantling their AFC East foe to the tune of a 45-17 scoreline. The outcome, while expected, was needed, especially in a division race that has unexpectedly tightened up in recent weeks.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Bills’ Week 10 win.
Josh Allen bounces back
After struggling in admittedly difficult circumstances against Jacksonville, Josh Allen showed why he should still be considered a prime MVP candidate in Buffalo’s rout of the Jets.
He finished the game 21 of 28 passing for 366 yards and two touchdowns, this before being taken out of the game midway through the fourth quarter. After being given very few clean pockets in Jacksonville, Allen showed poise in the pocket throughout Sunday’s contest. He displayed off the arm strength that Buffalo fans have fallen in love with throughout the past four years, with seven of his passes going for more than 20 yards.
His ball placement, though not flawless, was largely strong throughout the day, with his second-quarter touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs sticking out as a particularly impressive throw. He was aggressive throughout the matchup, but not to a fault, with his only turnover on the day being an interception that came off a tipped pass.
Allen’s stat line, while impressive, could not necessarily be described as “video-game-like,” as that may not be generous enough. He completed 75% of his passes for over 350 yards in a game in which his team put up 45 points. If he did put up this performance in Madden, he was playing on rookie mode.
Offense plays a complete game
“Cathartic” may be the most appropriate word that one could use to describe Buffalo’s Week 10 offensive performance.
After the team failed to find the end zone in its Week 9 loss, a 45-point outing was as reassuring as it was necessary for the sanity of the fanbase. The offensive line – a unit that allowed over 20 total pressures in Jacksonville – largely bounced back, this potentially spearheaded by the return of rookie right tackle Spencer Brown. The line gave Allen clean pockets throughout much of the day and also sporadically shined in run blocking, with perhaps no play sticking out more than Brown’s pull block on Matt Breida’s 15-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Speaking of Breida, Buffalo’s offense got a few sparingly-used players involved on Sunday. Breida impressed in his first game active since Week 3, picking up 50 total yards and two touchdowns on six total touches. He displayed speed and pass-catching ability out of the backfield, something the Bills’ running back group had not possessed through the first chunk of the season.
Isaiah McKenzie also got involved on offense after having his role all but eliminated through the first chunk of the season. He scored a touchdown on an end-around in the third quarter, a play Buffalo fans have been clamoring to see re-introduced into the offense in recent weeks. McKenzie finished the game with three offensive touches – a season-high – before leaving in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.
Gabriel Davis nearly matched his season total in receiving yards (133) on Sunday alone, reeling in three passes for 105 yards against the Jets. As his stat line would suggest, he was a go-to deep target for Allen, as his receptions went for 20, 36, and 49 yards, including an incredible toe-tapping catch near the goal line in the third quarter.
It certainly wasn’t a perfect day from Buffalo’s offense, as it was largely subdued throughout the first and second quarters, but the improved play from the offensive line and usage of previously underused players are certainly causes for optimism moving forward.
Diggs gets involved
Though Buffalo’s offense had been statistically productive throughout the first eight games of the season, the perceived under-usage of Stefon Diggs was a cause of concern for many.
Though the reigning All-Pro led the team in receptions and yardage entering Sunday’s game, he hadn’t yet been given the opportunity to make the high-impact plays he made last season.
That changed in East Rutherford.
Diggs was dynamic in the win, finishing the game with eight receptions for 162 yards and one touchdown. He first caught attention with a 57-yard reception in the second quarter, a play in which he signaled Allen for the ball before he even beat his man. He capped off that drive with a 12-yard touchdown reception, this after having a touchdown catch called back on the prior play.
Diggs continued his strong performance into the second half, catching a 43-yard pass from Allen in the fourth quarter. Though he didn’t set any career-highs on Sunday, his 162 receiving yards in the most that he’s ever put up in a single game in a Bills’ uniform.
Simply put, Diggs was electric in the win. He reminded Buffalo fans of something that very few, if any of them, forgot: that he should likely be the centerpiece of Buffalo’s offense each and every week.
Consistent pressure from the defensive line
It was never going to be an easy day for New York signal-caller Mike White.
Asking a fourth-year quarterback making his third-career start to produce against a defense as vaunted as Buffalo’s was never a recipe for success.
And if you can believe it, it went even worse than expected.
White finished the game 24 of 44 passing for 251 yards, good for a quarterback rating of 33.4 He faced pressure on seemingly every dropback and was consistently hit, something that will make even the best of quarterbacks struggle (just ask Buffalo fans).
Though he was sacked just once (by Efe Obada, who also forced a White interception in the first quarter), he was hit seven total times, with three of the hits coming from Ed Oliver. The third-year defensive tackle out of Houston was a menace for the interior of New York’s offensive line, consistently shedding blocks and getting into the backfield. It was yet another breakout performance in a year that has been chock-full of them for Oliver, to the point that we perhaps shouldn’t be pleasantly surprised by them anymore.
Perhaps we should simply expect them. Perhaps he’s fully arrived.
A strong game against an ‘average’ offensive line and faux-rookie quarterback was to be expected out of Buffalo’s defensive front, but they still had to deliver. Thankfully, they did.
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Making plays on the ball
Buffalo’s linebackers and defensive backs were the beneficiaries of its pass-rush, as the team made plays on ill-placed balls throughout the entire game.
The team picked off White on four separate occasions, with Taron Johnson kicking off the festivities in the first quarter. Tre’Davious White, Levi Wallace, and Jordan Poyer also notched interceptions and pass deflections in the game, with A.J. Klein and Matt Milano also getting their hands on the football early.
Micah Hyde forced another takeaway right before halftime, stripping the ball from Jets’ receiver Corey Davis and recovering his own forced fumble to keep points off the board.
Forcing turnovers has been a strong suit for Buffalo’s defense throughout the entire season, as the team entered Sunday’s game with the largest turnover differential in the league (+11). In terms of takeaways, Week 10 was perhaps the team’s best outing yet.