Following the Buffalo Bills’ 27-17 victory over the Packers in Week 8, concerns over the team’s ability – or lack thereof – to slow down the Packers’ rushing attack were met with scoffs. After all, the Bills held a strong lead and were giving Green Bay leeway on the ground in order to prevent big plays in the passing game. But after Sunday’s ugly 20-17 loss to the New York Jets, it seems those concerns are valid.
Led by Michael Carter’s 76 yards and a touchdown, the Jets ran all over Buffalo’s depleted defense, totaling a staggering 174 rushing yards on 34 carries – an average of 5.1 yards per clip. Defending the run was an issue throughout the game, but the Bills’ struggles were most evident on New York’s game-winning drive – a 13-play, 86-yard effort capped off by a game-winning field goal. The Jets simply dominated the line of scrimmage in the game’s waning moments, running eight times in a row, with no counter by a Buffalo defense many believe to be the best in the NFL.
Defensive end Von Miller met with the media following the game and didn’t have an answer as to why the team struggled so much against one of the league’s bottom-tier offenses.
“They ran the ball on us and they had success,” said Miller. “I really don’t know why. I really don’t know why we couldn’t bottle it up. We’ve been playing the run really, really well up until last week. And of course, they were going to copy some of the plays that Green Bay ran – and they did, but we expected that. But we didn’t expect the success that they would have. It’s two games that we didn’t play our part in the run.”
The Packers surged for 208 rushing yards last week, but as previously stated, those struggles are easier to stomach when coming away with a victory. Now, following a brutal loss to a lesser opponent – a divisional foe, at that – there are serious problems that are visible to the rest of the NFL. And Miller knows there has to be something to his defense’s deficiencies.
“Eight runs in a row, jeez,” Miller said of the Jets’ final offensive possession. “Last week we were getting on Aaron Rodgers and them for running the ball and then they did it again this week. So obviously, there’s something there. But you just got to take a step back and debrief, not panic, anything like that. It’s the one thing we need to fix as a defense.”
One of the plays that the Jets saw on film during their game prep was the success that Green Bay enjoyed running crack toss.
“I think it was the first or second series and they ran crack toss. But instead of blocking me with one, they blocked me with two. Last week, they blocked me with one,” Miller explained. “He was able to get outside, he got to the sideline and tight-roped up the field. If I could have that play back, I would. Hopefully, I can be a little more stout and get upfield, forcing it to bounce. I saw it right at the beginning – they motioned the tight end out wide and I saw the receiver looking right at me and I felt the crack toss. So I’ve got to do a better job at seeing that and making plays for my team.”
Individually, Miller had a solid performance. He made two tackles – one for a loss and notched a sack-fumble. But the unit as a whole played abysmally, overpursuing runs and missing entirely too many tackles. Michael Carter broke seven tackles alone, while the Jets had six rushes of 10-plus yards.
“It’s tough. Losses like this are tough, but I still feel like it’s good medicine,” Miller says. “I still believe in this team. We had chances to win it, it wasn’t just like the whole game was trash. We did some good things but not enough.”
Buffalo must drink that medicine and recover quickly if they hope to maintain their narrow lead atop the AFC East, as they host a red-hot 7-1 Minnesota Vikings squad that features some of the most talented offensive weapons in the NFL in running back Dalvin Cook, wide receiver Justin Jefferson and tight end T.J. Hockenson.