Bills get back on track with 24-18 win over Buccaneers

10/27/2023
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The Buffalo Bills beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, earning the win on Thursday night, 24-18. It got a little close to heart attack territory, but the Bills ultimately proved their mettle getting an important win before entering a “mini-bye”. 

Below we’ll take a look at the most inspiring performances, a receiver whose performance forces some inquiring, a part of the defense that requires a better performance, and the most irksome part of the game. 

Inspire – The Bills’ offense (Josh Allen, Dalton Kincaid, Gabe Davis)

Well that’s a nice turnaround now isn’t it? Josh Allen looked far more comfortable running the Buffalo Bills this way. No huddle and lots of spread concepts and formations. The Bills looked ready to face this Tampa Bay defense, attacking and showing aggression all night. It wasn’t always perfect, with an early fourth down stop near the goal line, and an unfortunate tip of the football leading to a Tampa interception. The Bills struggled in moments, but those moments were few and far between, and the Bills didn’t let those moments snowball into something worse. Every offense will have its bad moments, or moments where it doesn’t work, but the Bills managed to find a way to move beyond moments of frustration and kept the ball away from Tampa just enough to keep the game out of reach. This included an excellent decision by Allen to hit Stefon Diggs on a hot read as the Bucs brought pressure, something that the Cover 1 Film Room included in their breakdown this past week. 

Allen deserves a ton of credit for this performance, having his best game since playing the Dolphins in Week 4, going 31/40 for 324 yards with two passing touchdowns, and 41 rushing yards and a rushing score. Dalton Kincaid followed up his excellent performance last week with a great game this week, which included scoring his first NFL touchdown on an Allen scramble. Kincaid has now had two great weeks in a row, and seems to be earning Allen’s trust more; with Dawson Knox on IR, and Quintin Morris’ status essentially unknown at this time, expect to see more of Kincaid moving forward. Lastly, Gabe Davis had himself a night, establishing a new career high in catches with nine, while showing physicality and consistency as a receiver, breaking some tackles, and making big plays. 

Inquire – Khalil Shakir:

This particular author was not all that confident in Khalil Shakir coming into 2023. It seemed that the Bills weren’t all too confident in him as a rookie in 2022, and with all the investments with the pass catchers in the offseason, and a clear shift to 12 personnel, Shakir seemed to be someone who would be lost in the shuffle for this season. A struggling offense and an injury to Dawson Knox later, suddenly Khalil Shakir is not only in the lineup but making big plays. Shakir had his best game as a pro, catching all six of his targets for 92 yards. The question is, as it often is with new players making good plays, what will his role be moving forward? Will the Bills keep using him as the primary slot receiver? Is this emergence purely from the Dawson Knox injury? It will certainly be a key storyline to follow moving forward, but the emergence of Khalil Shakir has been a surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one. 

Require – Pass rush:

The Bills had an excellent, nay, elite-level pass rush through four weeks. Since then, it’s been a bit of a struggle. The most obvious part of this struggle has been the injury to DaQuan Jones, who not only was creating pressure on his own but was also allowing others to get more one-on-one opportunities. The Bills clearly miss Jones’ presence, and the backups have been a little underwhelming in his absence. They managed to get a bit of a rush late, sacking Baker Mayfield a few times on their final drive, and pressuring him on others. Overall, the Bills’ pass rush has been inconsistent and needs to find some way to generate more consistent pressure to help the Bills on the back end. The pass rush has to help the coverage, in the same way that the coverage helped the pass rush through most of the night. 

Irk – Penalties & drives stalling late:

The Bucs’ last scoring drive was kept alive by numerous penalties, some questionable, some well within the Bills’ control. While the Bills’ offense did certainly play well for most of the night, they stalled out in uncomfortable moments in the second half, leading to a pair of punts where some fans would’ve likely wanted to go for it. While this author does enjoy being aggressive on fourth down, those spots didn’t necessarily warrant that level of aggression. A two-score lead against an offense that has not been anywhere close to threatening (outside of a turnover in Buffalo territory) is perfectly reasonable logic to punt. Is it fun? No. But the reality is that you don’t need to worry about those decisions if you don’t actually put yourself in those positions in the first place. The Bills needed one more score to fully put it out of reach, and ultimately just couldn’t quite get there. It is what it is, and the Bills obviously walk away with the win, but in the end, it doesn’t always have to come down to the last second or the thin margins. Having late drives that score, even a FG, is good. Not letting a bad offense get bailed out by penalties, that is also good. At the end of the day, those are the things that are more concerning and irksome, than another tiresome debate about fourth-down decision-making (especially since the evidence doesn’t favor one decision over the other). 

The Bills have 10 days before facing the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year, the Cincinnati Bengals, on Sunday Night Football. The Bengals, who have also struggled offensively, are looking to get a win this Sunday against a very tough 49ers team (that is also coming off a rough stretch of their own). With extra time to prepare, the Bills should, hopefully, be in a better position to face the Bengals and rip off a few wins to start this difficult stretch of their schedule. 

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