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Buffalo Bills 17, Baltimore Ravens 24: Rapid recap and notes

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They kept it close, but couldn’t clinch the win.

The Buffalo Bills were the latest team to run into the Baltimore Ravens buzzsaw, and the latest team sliced up in a loss. The Ravens won their ninth straight game, though the Bills kept it close with a 24-17 loss. The Bills were 16 yards away from tying the game, but that was as far as they could manage to get against the NFL’s hottest team.

All the conversation heading into the game was the vaunted match-up between two exciting young quarterbacks, but swirling winds and two stellar defenses were the dominant thread of the first half. The Ravens sacked Josh Allen five times in the first half on a variety of blitzes. They forced a fumble deep in Buffalo territory, and five plays later Lamar Jackson had a one-yard touchdown pass. Meanwhile, the Bills limited the dynamic Jackson to only 58 total yards. He had his touchdown pass, but also threw an interception. The Ravens carried a 10-6 lead into halftime.

The Ravens exploded out of halftime on their third offensive play, when Jackson hit Hayden Hurst against a busted coverage for a 61-yard touchdown. The Bills responded with a seven-play field-goal drive: 17-9. The teams would trade six straight punts after that point.

The Ravens took over and ground out a nine-play, five-minute drive, finished with a touchdown. Leading 24-9 with less than 10 minutes to go, the game seemed like it could be over.

Then the Bills offense finally found its footing. Allen squeezed a pass into Dawson Knox’s bicep for 37 yards down the sideline. Two plays later, Devin Singletary found a crease and rumbled down to the 2-yard line. After an awkward sequence of tackles for loss and defensive procedure penalties, Allen finally hit Beasley in the end zone for a touchdown. The Bills went back to Beasley on a nearly identical route for the two-point conversion, and Buffalo closed the gap to 24-17.

The Bills’ defense stepped up on the next drive, closing quickly on two running plays. Lorenzo Alexander tipped Jackson’s pass and they forced a three and out.

Allen took over at his 28-yard line, with five-and-a-half minutes to go, and took the ball to Baltimore’s 16-yard line on a 12-play drive, but his 4th-and-8 pass to John Brown was knocked away by Marcus Peters. It could’ve been Buffalo’s first 15-point fourth quarter comeback since 1967, but instead the Bills fall to 9-4 on the season.

Injury notes

  • Josh Allen had his foot stepped on in the second quarter. He had it re-taped, and played out the rest of the game.
  • For the Ravens, tight end Mark Andrews left with a knee injury and did not return.

Miscellaneous

  • For the first time in the NFL this season, neither team managed 100 yards of offense in the first half of the game. It was a slow, grinding half of football.
  • Tremaine Edmunds finally landed his first interception of the season, a pass that deflected off Willie Snead’s hands.
  • All things considered, the Bills bottled up Lamar Jackson’s lightning. He finished with only 185 yards, his lowest total of the season. They also had that interception.
  • That being said, Jackson still scored three touchdowns. His red zone plays bordered on absurdity.
  • The Bills’ defense, as a whole, limited the Ravens to 257 total yards and 4.4 yards per play. They took on the challenge of a rare offense and handled it with aplomb.
  • Unfortunately, the Bills’ offense was asleep at the wheel for most of the day. They managed a measly 3.0 yards per play.
  • “Bad” Josh Allen reared his ugly head again today. The best news is that he played much better in the fourth quarter, and he had the team in contention to tie. But Allen had 3.7 yards per attempt and fumbled the ball twice.
  • A workmanlike day from Devin Singletary, with 118 yards on 23 touches.
  • Stephen Hauschka put his season back on track, succeeding on all three of his field goal attempts. That included a 47 and a 48 yarder.
  • Now at 9-4, the Buffalo Bills will finish another week without clinching a playoff berth. In all likelihood, they can clinch it if they win against the Pittsburgh Steelers next weekend.