The Buffalo Bills trailed by 16 points midway through the third quarter.
A field goal, two touchdowns and several defensive stands later, the Bills pulled off the comeback.
Josh Allen threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to John Brown with three minutes left in the game and the defense stood tall as the Bills defeated the Jets 17-16 Sunday afternoon.
Here is the Buffalo Bills Week 1 report card:
It was a mixed bag for Josh Allen. He had some good throws early in the game and demonstrated early on that John Brown and Cole Beasley will be his favorite targets. There was also too many mistakes. He fumbled twice and threw two interceptions, which will usually cost you victories. Fortunately, the defense bailed him out. But you don't want to see your quarterback commit multiple turnovers in a game.
Allen delivered in the clutch, though. He ran for a touchdown and threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Brown that proved to be the difference in the game. That was a big-time throw by Allen. He needed that after a handful of errors earlier in the game.
Overall, there were plenty of good things to highlight. But he needs to focus on making better decisions and protecting the ball.
It boggles the mind why the Bills didn't get Devin Singletary involved early in the game. Eight of Singletary's nine touches came in the second half. He had four carries for 70 yards, with each of his runs going for at least 10 yards. He also caught five passes for 28 yards.
Singletary proved, especially late in the game, that he can be a major weapon for the Bills offense. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll needs to find ways to get him the ball more. It will help Allen, open up more opportunities for the receivers and limit Frank Gore's usage.
For most of the game, Gore was the Bills' go-to running back. Hopefully Daboll and Co. have seen all they need to ensure Singletary is the primary back and Gore is more of a change-of-pace guy.
If there's one thing today's NFL should teach us is that you don't need a clear-cut No. 1 receiver to succeed. The Bills' new additions, Cole Beasley and John Brown, are going to create problems for opposing defenses. Beasley had five catches for 40 yards and was Allen's go-to guy early in the game. Brown took on that role as the game progressed. Brown finished with seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. He caught the go-ahead touchdown with three minutes to go.
It took some time, but the Bills finally have a receiving corps.
The line had some problems against the tough Jets' defensive front. Left tackle Dion Dawkins whiffed on a block that led to Allen's first lost fumble. You want Allen to protect the ball better, but you also want your franchise left tackle to make that block. Center Mitch Morse had a role in Allen's second lost fumble. The exchange wasn't clean and the Jets recovered.
Just as Allen has to be better, the offensive line needs to be better. It was encouraging that the line, for the most part, was strong down the stretch. That helped the Bills complete the comeback.
A monster day for the Bills' front four. Jerry Hughes had 1.5 sacks and two passes defensed. Shaq Lawson was a beast. He added a sack and knocked down a pass. Rookie Ed Oliver didn't post big stats, but he had a clear impact that will show up on game film. He was a force against the run and pass. He posed problems for the Jets' offensive line throughout the day. You could tell Jets quarterback Sam Darnold wasn't comfortable. The line came up big late in the game by pressuring Darnold on the second-to-last drive of the game.
Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano were up to their old tricks. Milano rebounded from his injury last season to to tie for the team lead with nine tackles (six solo) against the Jets. He also had a couple of quarterbacks hits on pass rushes. Edmunds chipped in with eight tackles (three solo) and was all over the field.
The ageless Lorenzo Alexander got involved with a half sack and four tackles. One of the only knocks on this unit: Covering Le'Veon Bell out of the backfield. The Bills will play this team again and need to better contain Bell. Bell's ability to operate in space is an asset. The Bills will face more running backs like that throughout the season. You have to watch them or they'll hurt you.
The secondary was strong again. Jordan Poyer seemed to be everywhere. He led the team with nine tackles (six solo) and had one of the Bills' four sacks. Levi Wallace made a great play on a deep pass that could've been disastrous for the Bills, but prevented a long gain. Before his injury, Taron Johnson had a great corner blitz to stuff Bell for a loss. Darnold had an average day against this unit. It helped to have the pressure up front, but the secondary did its job.
Kicking and punting
Corey Bojorquez did a solid job as the Bills' punter. He pinned the Jets inside the 20 once. There was a punt late in the game that you'd like to see him drop inside the 10. That kick ended up being a touchback.
Kicker Steven Hauschka booted a 43-yard field goal and was successful on both of his point-after tries.
Kick coverage and returns
The Jets didn't return any punts and had one kickoff return for 10 yards. One question entering this season is whether the Bills' kick coverage has improved. We didn't really get to see that in Sunday's game.
It was a quiet day for the Bills' return unit, too. Micah Hyde had a solid 10-yard punt return. That was the only punt return against the Jets. The Bills didn't have any kick returns.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll should face questions about Devin Singletary's usage. It's inexplicable that the Bills wouldn't establish the run to complement its passing attack. The Bills had success through the air against the Jets' defense. As the game progressed, though, the Jets improved and that's when some of the turnovers occurred. Having Singletary slicing through the defense would've made the passes less predictable. That could've benefited Allen and prevented the Bills from falling behind by two scores.
Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier deserve praise for the plan against the Jets. The Jets' lone offensive touchdown came after a safety. In fact, the Jets' defense scored as many points (eight) as the offense. Sam Darnold was held in check. The only criticism: Keep an eye on these star running backs. Bell created problems for the Bills. You need to limit the space these running backs have to operate. Other than that, though, a great defensive effort.
Offensive player of the game 🏈
John Brown. Brown's debut with the Bills was a successful one. He had seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. He was Josh Allen's favorite target for much of the game, and Brown delivered several key grabs at different spots during the game. He has great speed, but he's also an underrated route runner. The Jets had trouble keeping up with him Sunday.
Defensive player of the game 🏈
Ed Oliver. He didn't have the sexiest stat line, but he was a nuisance throughout the game. An impressive first game for the rookie, who was a force against the run and pass.
5.9. The average yards per play for the Bills against the Jets. It was nearly double the Jets' output (3.4) and highlights the improvements made on the offensive side of the ball.
4. The number of turnovers. Winning is nice, but you have to play a much cleaner game to beat the AFC powers (read: New England).
17.5. Devin Singletary's yards per carry average. The rookie impressed in limit action. The Bills need to get him more involved in the offense. He has the tools to be the Bills' Le'Veon Bell or Saquon Barkley.
The Bills (1-0) return to the Meadowlands to play the New York Giants at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15. The game will be televised on CBS.
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