The Buffalo Bills’ defense surrendered 22 points to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, and one thing was certain: the secondary was tested. The team faced one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game in Rodgers, and boy did he make the defense work.
Rodgers utilized quick three-step passes, smoke routes, and WR screens, and then mixed in play-action passes to get the ball deep to an array of weapons. He finished 22 for 40 for 298 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The Packers’ offense left no stone unturned. Star cornerback Tre’Davious White got worked over. He was targeted eight times and surrendered five receptions for 89 yards.
White’s running mate this weekend was CB Ryan Lewis, and he was in Rodgers’s crosshairs all afternoon. While Lewis didn’t surrender a touchdown, he did allow seven receptions on 11 targets for 111 yards, but to his credit, he showed off his mental toughness at several points in the game.
Rodgers picked on him early by throwing underneath his zone when he was in quarters coverage, over the middle when the Bills dropped into their three-deep coverages, and Rodgers was even able to drop a 38-yard dime right over the head of the rookie late in the game while Lewis was in man coverage. But Lewis battled all afternoon and got his hands on two passes, forcing two fumbles and managing to lead the team in tackles with nine combined.
Another young defensive back, Taron Johnson, also was tested by the wily vet, but Johnson fared better than White and Lewis. His play was not only noticed by fans, but also by his head coach:
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”22″]He’s a dog in a good way. That’s what you have to have. You notice it; you feel him out there. For a young player to have made that type of presence known from that nickel position is huge for our defense. He’s a little banged up with the shoulder, but he goes out of the game [and] comes back in. He wants it, and I’ve been very pleased with his progress to this point.[/perfectpullquote]
Only three passes were caught out of seven targets when Johnson was the primary defender in coverage, for a total of 25 yards. But Johnson’s ‘dog mentality’ was on full display once receivers caught the ball and in the box against the run. The Weber State graduate pitched in six total tackles, two stops and forced a fumble on a big hit on Rodgers. In my opinion, he was the best defender on the Bills’ squad.
While the Bills didn’t get the result they wanted, young players like Johnson and Lewis got valuable reps versus one of the best QBs. Here is a short reel of some of their plays.