The Buffalo Bills were somewhat able to get back on track in an 18-10 win against the New York Jets this past Sunday. It was an overall abnormal game that saw no touchdowns and also zero punts for the visiting team, while the home team could only manage four yards of offense in the entire second half. The positive news, at least when it comes to our purposes, is that most of the rookie class had a hand in why the Bills eventually came out on top. More about how each rookie performed against the Jets below.
DE A.J. Epenesa
The team’s second-round pick has had a tough go of it the past few weeks, but finally made himself noticed against the Jets. In the first quarter, lined up against fellow rookie Mekhi Becton, Epenesa pulled an inside rush just as the tackle was taking an outside set and essentially had a free path to the quarterback. That would have earned Epenesa his first full sack of the year if Trent Murphy hadn’t also been involved. Then later in the first quarter, Epenesa got small and used his speed to beat Becton again on a stretch run, tackling Frank Gore for a loss. That’s effective play from a non-starting edge rusher.
RB Zack Moss
It was the rookie’s best day in a Buffalo Bills uniform, as he found success on both the ground and in the passing game, demonstrating what he can be for this team. The offensive line was finally able to bust open decent holes for him, which allowed Moss to take advantage of his physical, downhill running style to gain extra yards. He proved to be just as tough to bring down in the passing game, taking what was a simple dump off and turning it into a 17-yard gain thanks to a forced broken tackle. Moss finished with 72 total yards from scrimmage.
WR Gabriel Davis
The primary beneficiary of John Brown’s extended absence, Davis was targeted a handful of times by Josh Allen on extended plays but was typically covered up by defensive backs. His only catch of the game came on a short timing route that took advantage of the Jets playing soft underneath coverage.
QB Jake Fromm
As with the previous games, Fromm was again a healthy scratch. This should remain the case throughout the season.
K Tyler Bass
Bass was the sole producer of points in the game, and for that he should be commended. In attempting to make eight field goals, he missed two “easier” kicks of 37 and 45 yards, while successfully making a much more difficult kick of 52 yards. You still feel like you never know what’s going to happen when he lines up, but he certainly got a lot of practice against the Jets.
WR Isaiah Hodgins
Hodgins remains on Injured Reserve due to a shoulder injury sustained late in training camp.
CB Dane Jackson
The player who probably had the most pressure to play well, Jackson not only held his own in the game, but came down with two massive plays that shut down two separate New York drives. The first came in the Jets’ opening drive in the red zone on 3rd-and-4: as Darnold was scrambling to find an open receiver, Jackson stayed patient, read the quarterback’s eyes and stuck out his hand, breaking up the intended pass. Then in the second quarter, Jackson once again read Darnold’s eyes and kept dropping into a deeper and deeper zone, until he found himself in perfect position to intercept a desperation throw. Those two plays together helped change the complexion of the game.
TE/FB Reggie Gilliam
On the field much more than usual thanks to most of the rest of his position group being in quarantine, the hybrid player was targeted once and managed to come down with a 15-yard dump-off pass thanks to some soft zone coverage from the Jets. Per usual, he resumed his role on special teams.