The Buffalo Bills annihilated their AFC East rival New England Patriots in a dominant 47-17 wild-card round victory Saturday night. While many felt the Bills were the better team, expecting a win in this fashion seemed impossible. But the Bills punched the Patriots in the mouth to start the game and didn’t let up for a second.
Below we’ll explore as many inspiring aspects of this game as possible, inquire on the team’s ceiling moving forward, see who might require a better performance, and delve lightly into the only irksome aspect of this game.
Inspire: Just about everything
The Bills were ready before the train horn blared throughout Highmark Stadium. Seven straight possessions for a TD, Josh Allen with an almost perfect performance for the ages, going 21/25 for 308 passing yards and (a Bills’ playoff record) five passing TDs. Stefon Diggs continued his domination of JC Jackson, beating the pro bowl CB multiple times in this game with his trademark precision route running. Devin Singletary ran hard and instinctively, finishing with 81 yards rushing and two TDs. Dawson Knox scored two TDs in the first quarter, an NFL record for a playoff game by a TE. Isaiah McKenzie looked blindingly fast on his plays, sprinting by multiple Patriots’ defenders and beating good angles. The defense created multiple turnovers, including an absurd Micah Hyde INT, a Jerry Hughes sack on an ill-conceived fake spike, and multiple hits on Mac Jones who struggled to peel himself off the frozen grass multiple times. The Patriots looked lost, slow, dazed, confused, and by the end of the first quarter, they looked like they wanted to ship themselves back to Boston. An absolutely dominant performance, destroying records, and humiliating a rival that had humiliated them time and time before. If professional football could ever provide group therapy to its fans, it would be from games like this.
Inquire: What’s the ceiling?
Sean McDermott, Leslie Frazier, and Brian Daboll had this team ready to play with incredible gameplans, and nearly flawless playcalls. With Frazier and Daboll both getting multiple interviews on Sunday for head coach gigs, a performance like this will surely capture the attention of everyone looking to hire a new coach in the NFL. If the Bills play this type of game for the rest of the playoffs, they win the Super Bowl and put their backups in at halftime. This level of play isn’t exactly sustainable, but it is quite the opening statement for the playoffs in an AFC that didn’t appear to have an overly dominant team. The Bills seem to have gone the way of the AutoBot and transformed themselves into that dominant team. They put together their best game against their biggest rival to shag their playoff run. Now it’s time to see how far they can take this run.
Require: Pass rush?
It seemed that without Isaiah Wynn in the lineup, the Bills would have a much easier path to pressuring and sacking Mac Jones. Three sacks is good, and Star Lotulelei’s in the first half was a major win after giving up a DPI penalty. That being said, it seemed like the Patriots gave Mac Jones plenty of time, they simply couldn’t execute when they had to make a play. Ultimately, the Bills need to generate a more consistent pass rush in the rest of the playoffs.
At least for the purposes of this recap, it’s a good thing the Bills had a couple of PATs blocked so that something could be put into the irk column. Tyler Bass had a pretty solid game kicking PATs other than a block and a tip leading to two misses. Doesn’t seem like they exposed any particular weakness, and tipped/blocked PATs have not been a common occurrence in Tyler Bass’s career thus far. Not a worry moving into the rest of the playoffs.
The Bills, barring an upset for the ages by the Pittsburgh Steelers, will likely be heading to Kansas City in the divisional round to take on the Chiefs. The Bills have already won in Arrowhead before this season, and riding the momentum they have, it is likely they’ll be fired up to repeat their performance from earlier this season. The Bills will need to be ready and firing on all cylinders for the rest of the playoffs if they want to continue their quest for their first-ever Lombardi Trophy.