The Buffalo Bills fought hard against the NFL’s hottest team, the Baltimore Ravens, but they ultimately fell 24-17 on Sunday. Baltimore has now won nine consecutive games dating back to the end of September. The loss snapped Buffalo’s three-game winning streak.
If the Bills were going to defeat the AFC’s top seed, they needed big performances from their marquee players. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for most of them. Here’s how our list of five players to watch fared last week.
QB Josh Allen
Buffalo’s young signal caller was harassed and inaccurate all day, missing on some open throws early and finding himself under extreme duress throughout the afternoon. Baltimore blitzed Allen relentlessly, coming up with six sacks on the afternoon. They also hit him 12 times on his 39 pass attempts. Of those attempts, Allen only completed 17 passes for a paltry 146 yards. He added a two-yard touchdown to Cole Beasley, which he subsequently followed with a two-point conversion to Beasley that drew the Bills within a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
To be fair, Allen had plenty of easy throws dropped (and some not-so-easy ones, as well), but he also took some awful sacks, one of which knocked the Bills out of field goal range. It came with Buffalo facing 3rd and 10 from Baltimore’s 34-yard line with just over four minutes remaining in the first half. Allen was sacked for a seven-yard loss on that play, which meant a Corey Bojorquez punt rather than a Stephen Hauschka field-goal attempt. While he also lost a fumble that set up a Baltimore touchdown, there was little he could do on the play, as Baltimore’s Matthew Judon was left one-on-one with tight end Dawson Knox, a match-up Judon will win 999 times out of 1000. Allen struggled with the blitz again, which doesn’t bode well for his next two opponents, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots both love to bring pressure. Allen has to figure something out in a hurry.
RB Devin Singletary
The rookie running back continued to tighten his stranglehold on the role of “feature back,” as he led the Bills with 23 touches on the day. Singletary ran 17 times for 89 yards, adding six catches for 29 yards as a receiver. He was also targeted a team-high eight times, sharing the honor with wideout John Brown. While Singletary’s overall numbers look great, he did most of his damage on just one drive. On Buffalo’s fifth possession of the game, trailing 10-0, they fed Singletary the rock early, moving down the field with ease. After starting the drive off with an incomplete pass, Singletary carried the ball on the next six plays, gaining 43 yards on those carries. When Buffalo had a first down from Baltimore’s 13-yard line, Singletary lost yardage on consecutive plays before an Allen incompletion to Isaiah McKenzie on third down led to Hauschka’s first field goal of the day. Overall, it was another strong day for Singletary, even if much of the damage came on one series.
WR John Brown
The former Raven had a quiet day against his ex-mates, as Brown was shadowed by either Marlon Humphery or Marcus Peters throughout the afternoon. While Brown led the Bills in targets with eight, he only managed to haul in three passes for 26 yards. It was Brown who Allen targeted on the final play of the game, a fourth-down pass from Baltimore’s sixteen-yard line that, if completed, probably would have led to a potential game-tying extra point. Alas, Peters defended the pass beautifully, and Brown couldn’t shield the defender to make the catch. After a hot start, Brown has slowed his pace considerably of late, catching only a total of eight passes for 91 yards and a touchdown over the last three weeks combined. Against the Miami Dolphins in Week 11, Brown caught nine passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll need to step up this week against Pittsburgh.
LB Matt Milano
While the highlight-reel play involving Milano showed Lamar Jackson doing Lamar Jackson things, it’s important to note that the third-year linebacker played a really solid football game, as did all of his defensive teammates on nearly every play. Milano was tasked with maintaining gap integrity against the league’s best rushing attack, and he did so routinely. Milano made seven tackles on the day and he was a huge part of the reason why Baltimore gained only 118 rushing yards when they averaged over 200 rushing yards per game coming in.
S Jordan Poyer
He was Buffalo’s leading tackler, but it’s his hesitation on a 61-yard touchdown pass that everyone will remember from this game. Poyer was excellent except for that one play, a ball that Jackson was able to throw perfectly even while he took a big shot from a blitzing Buffalo linebacker. The Ravens caught Poyer peaking into the backfield when the Bills were in a cover-zero blitz, and Jackson made them pay. Poyer had ten tackles and a pass breakup on the day, but it’s that one big play that he would definitely like to have back.