Confirmed: Bills beating the Patriots is good for the soul (Week 16 Recap)
What a dominant performance by the Buffalo Bills. They needed a win and they delivered in style. Offense played in a way that hasn’t been seen since before the bye, and I would argue that this was still better. Defense made big stops when needed. And best of all? Special teams were only needed twice… for FGs. Absolutely no punts.
An excellent game. I feel confident enough to say that the Bills are back. So, what exactly went right?
1) Offensive Line finds rhythm
Covid and injuries cast a shadow over this already poor OL. With Ford and Feliciano out, and Dawkins’ uncertainty, it was very easy to have a negative outlook on just how Allen could cope with what is one of the top ranked pass rush defenses in the league.
But the OL surprised us all. They had easily their best game of the season. No sacks allowed, only four QB hits and, most importantly, gave him plenty of time to throw. I have no idea what they had for breakfast, but they need an unlimited supply of it every week. Or maybe it was Allen’s Christmas gift? Who knows. OL still has its issues, but this game proved that they can step up when they need to. This OL can protect the MVP QB well into the playoffs.
Isaiah McKenzie has been pretty quiet for most of this season. He started hot as a return specialist but then slowly lost that fire and ultimately gave the position up to Marquez Stevenson. (A move no one is complaining about.) His career as a WR has been lackluster, having mostly contributed on special teams or as a gadget player. With Gabriel Davis and Cole Beasley on the Covid list, his number was called. And he balled out.
11 receptions for 125 yards and one TD (averaged 11.4 yards per reception). Not only did he set career highs, he also had the second-most receiving yards for a Bill this season (Diggs had 162 at the Jets Week 10). I have started a petition to change his name from Lil Dirty to Lil Sexy. Why? Because he was damn sexy out there. Allen was slinging the rock at all speeds and in weird directions. McKenzie was not phased. He had YAC on each reception and refused to go down. A reliable option for Allen when his regular receivers weren’t there. I see no reason to not start him over Beasley.
It’s Lil Sexy time.
3) Joshua Patrick Allen – Undisputed MVP
The past few weeks, Allen has shown his frustration with his offense by taking the game into his own hands. He has consistently proven that he is the best QB in the league, despite not being selected to the Pro Bowl (a huge snub).
This game though, he was on a whole new level. He didn’t just prove he deserved a Pro Bowl nod, but that he should also be firmly in the MVP race. 30/47, 314 passing yards, 64 rushing yards and three TDs. A monster performance. He refused to go down, and when his team called on him, he damn well answered. Whether it was throwing across his body back into the middle, or taking the ball for himself and steamrolling the defense. No matter what, this is my MVP.
4) Non-Pro Bowl Safety Duo
Speaking of Pro Bowl snubs, the best safety duo in the NFL have been putting on a clinic for across the league for weeks now. They make big physical plays when it matters. They can read offenses like a book. Most importantly, they keep that defense hyped up.
They scared Belichick and Jones so much that the rookie QB attempted just 13 passes in the first half, ending 14/32 for 145 yards and no TDs. This is the same QB that people have been loving on for weeks. Short of calling him the second coming of Christ, there wasn’t a compliment he received. Just more proof that this safety tandem is the real deal and need to be feared.
5) Aggressive Daboll and McDermott are back
I’ve been very critical of the playcalling as of late. I’ve hated it and felt that they haven’t been playing to the offense’s strengths. There has been no trust of Allen until they desperately needed it. But that all changed in this game
The Bills did not punt. Let me repeat. No punts. Not one. They went 6/12 on third downs and 3/4 on fourth downs. Only one drive ended through loss of downs. This was a statement game. There was nothing fancy; no flea flickers, no Statue of Liberty, no wildcat. But it wasn’t needed. This was a back-to-basics offense with just a little more aggressiveness to tire out that New England defense. And it worked. The Pats defense looked winded all game long, allowing 428 total yards and 33 points. Whatever this was, I want to see it for these last few games.
6) Red Zone improvements
An advantage of better playcalling, is red zone offense improvements. The Bills have not been good inside the 10 all season long, and it has been frustrating to no end. Seeing them march down the field with purpose and then putting up a measly three points is fun for absolutely no one.
This game, they made sure to change that. The Bills had seven red zone attempts, four of those resulted in TDs. A massive improvement from earlier in the season when they would have limited RZ attempts (three or four) and make only one. I would like to see more of those attempts result in six points, but this is a step in the right direction. They still have time to get better here. I like it.
7) However, Run D is still a problem
I really did have to try hard to find any issues with this game. And the only glaring problem I could find was that the run defense is still shit. For some reason, this defense has problems with physicality. They’ve allowed offenses to literally run through them in all their games and it’s becoming a problem because their weakness is on full display. This game was no different, allowing 149 rushing yards from just 27 attempts. Not great.
It should be said though, despite this problem, the offense did their job and put up points. This kept their defense off the field and took precious time off the board. This really stifled the Patriots’ offence and hugely helped out the defense. A perfectly balanced game, and a great example of complementary football. This is what I want to see more of going forward. Opposing offenses can run all they want, as long as the Bills O keeps a win out of reach by putting up points first and piling them on.
This was an absolute belter of a win for the Bills. My heart was pounding right until the final few minutes of the fourth quarter. But it was worth it. They have once again reclaimed the top spot in the division and, as long as they continue on this winning streak, then home field advantage and a playoff spot are in reach.