No Mitch Morse on offense, no Matt Milano and Josh Norman on defense, still no problem. Despite missing key starters on both sides of the ball, the Buffalo Bills were able to dominate the Seattle Seahawks on their way to their most impressive win of the season so far, 44 to 34. Here are my top three takeaways from today’s game:
Pass-Happy Offense Back on Track
The Seahawks entered the game with the 30th-ranked pass defense in the league, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. With that in mind, Bills OC Brian Daboll prepared a great game plan, very well executed by Josh Allen and the team’s offense.
The Bills have adjusted to this pic.twitter.com/1S15ccPV9h— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) November 8, 2020
Buffalo passed all over the weak Seahawks defense, who couldn’t find any answers. Josh Allen, back in MVP form, had a stellar day, completing 30 of 36 passes for 408 yards, three TDs, and zero INTs. He added 12 yards and one score on the ground. Despite being sacked seven times, he avoided turnovers and consistently found his playmakers and delivered the ball accurately.
Allen has been much better in these scenarios this year. He has had the answer more times than not. pic.twitter.com/Jw7jGcRuQb— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) November 8, 2020
A healthy John Brown (8 rec, 99 yards) helped a lot, and Stefon Diggs (8 rec, 111 yards) again was the go-to guy for the QB. However, they weren’t the only weapons at Allen’s disposal, as he completed passes to eight different receivers and was unstoppable all day long. He played patiently, finding the weak spots in Seattle’s coverages and taking advantage of them.
Play design by Brian Daboll was on-point pic.twitter.com/4ZrKI2sgkj— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) November 8, 2020
Daboll avoided matching the suspect Bills running game against a stout Seahawks run defense, simply not running the ball at all. Zack Moss and Devin Singletary combined for 11 rushing attempts all game, including late-game rushing plays to just work the clock. An unusual but smart approach by the OC.
Defense stepped up when it mattered the most
It wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t need to be. The Buffalo Bills’ defense played a great game against top competition and complemented perfectly the potent offense, helping the team to secure its most impressive win of the season.
Nice work on 3rd and short pic.twitter.com/bpZi5R3m7a— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) November 8, 2020
Seattle, missing their top two RBs, couldn’t establish the running game, and the Bills coverage schemes, combined with a very good pass rush, bothered Russell Wilson all game. It started early, with the unit forcing a three-and-out on Seattle’s first offensive drive, and continued all afternoon. Kudos to Sean McDermott and DC Leslie Frazier; their defense was well prepared for this big challenge and executed pretty well.
Poyer has been the defensive MVP pic.twitter.com/U7Mt418cV6— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) November 8, 2020
Against Wilson, D.K. Metcalf and company, you’re not gonna keep them out of the endzone for all 60 minutes. However, this defense was able to leave the field on some key 3rd downs, force turnovers, and give the ball back to the team’s offense, which was on fire. They got to Wilson and punished him with 16 knockdowns, the highest number in the league this year for a single game.
It was, overall, a very promising performance. They aren’t on the same level as the previous years under McDermott and Frazier, but when this unit can show up, big time and against top competition, it’s very encouraging.
Edmunds and Klein Elevate Defense
With Matt Milano in and out of the lineup all year, Tremaine Edmunds nicked up and A.J. Klein struggling badly playing a role that he clearly isn’t suited to, Buffalo had been suffering from poor LB play all season long. However, today’s game was different.
Edmunds seems to be playing faster today. His length made a difference here. pic.twitter.com/XSJobrgkiU— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) November 8, 2020
Edmunds played his best game this year, shooting gaps aggressively, not hesitating in his reads and being consistently well-positioned in coverage, making plays all over the field. He’s a huge part of what the Bills do on defense, and it’s great to see him back in form after a patch of rough games.
On the other hand, Klein had the game of his life. He started slowly, missing some opportunities early in the game, but in the second half he was decisive. Instead of letting him be a liability in coverage, Frazier started to send him on blitzes and it worked like a charm. Klein recorded two sacks, including one where he simply ripped the ball out of Wilson’s hands, creating a turnover. It was a great performance overall, justifying all the confidence shown by his coaches all week long.
One of the reasons for the sub-par performance by this defense has been the lack of good LB play. Today’s performance brings hope moving forward.
- The Bills’ secondary, outside of a miscommunication causing a TD on a long pass by Wilson, played a great game. We’re used to it from Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, but it was good to see Levi Wallace playing really well. Even Taron Johnson had a decent game in coverage, and in his few snaps on the field, Dane Jackson again showed good things.
- Dawson Knox was a non-factor in his first game back from the COVID list. He didn’t contribute in the passing game and was overpowered by Jamal Adams on a pass protection snap, giving up a sack. He has been my biggest disappointment in 2020.
- Tyler Bass was again on point, hitting 3 of 4 FG attempts and all his five extra points. His only miss was on a 61-yard attempt, where it had enough strength to hit, just not the direction. I’m feeling better about him, and if he improves his accuracy, then he can become a real weapon from distance. What a leg.
- Jerry Hughes continues to play at a very high level, maybe the best football of his career. It’s great to have him on the team, a true nightmare for opposing tackles to deal with.
- Dean Marlowe is doing pretty well as the big nickel/nickel LB at times. He’s always around the ball, makes good reads on the running plays, and isn’t a liability against the pass. Another good piece to have around.