The Buffalo Bills scored a decisive victory on Monday night, routing the New England Patriots 38-9. The win was Buffalo’s 12 of the season, and it assured the Patriots of their first sub-.500 season since the year 2000.
For the Bills, it felt like the exorcism of so many demons in what has been a house of horrors for them over the last 20 years. Buffalo’s top-end playmakers had huge days, as Josh Allen completed 75 percent of his passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns without a turnover. Stefon Diggs caught nine of his 11 targets for 145 yards and three touchdowns on the night, as well.
I’ve tried in recent weeks to vary the picks in this column, as I could quite easily write the same piece week in and week out by choosing the same five players on a loop. Instead, we went in some different directions last week in an attempt to give some chatter to a different set of guys. Our players weren’t Allen or Diggs, but our picks performed well.
Here’s how our five players to watch in Buffalo’s blowout win over New England played under the bright lights of Monday Night Football.
RB Devin Singletary
Early in the game, Buffalo looked like they were trying hard to force a touchdown pass to a 14th player, thereby earning themselves a place in NFL history. Singletary was the recipient of two such targets. Buffalo tried to set him up to go in on a short pass to the right side, and when that merely gained a first down, they followed it up with a shovel-pass that gained six yards. After another shovel pass to a player who has yet to find the end zone this year (more on him below), Singletary lost a yard on 3rd-and-goal, setting up Tyler Bass to hit his lone field goal of the night. Singletary had a few solid runs, notably an 11-yard carry where he fought through traffic to gain a first down, but his overall evening wasn’t too impressive. He carried ten times for 36 yards, adding those two catches and 16 yards receiving as well. Singletary watched his backfield mate Zack Moss add another rushing touchdown to his ledger, and Moss also had more carries (12) and rushing yards (57) on the night.
WR Andre Roberts
I thought for sure that Roberts was taking the opening kickoff to the house, as he hit a seam and flew upfield. Alas, he was tackled after gaining 49 yards, and that was the last time the Patriots gave him even a sniff of an opportunity to return a kick. Some commenters mentioned that they thought it would be Roberts scoring that 14th touchdown, and the Bills tried to give him a chance, as they tried the Isaiah McKenzie special—the shovel pass off a jet sweep—on New England’s five-yard line on their first drive. I didn’t think Roberts would be the guy, since he had only played two snaps at wideout since playing 24 snaps against the Tennessee Titans (he played one offensive snap against the Kansas City Chiefs and one offensive snap against the Arizona Cardinals). On Monday, Roberts played 11 snaps, catching two passes for 12 yards. He added the aforementioned 49-yard kickoff return and four punt returns for 25 yards on the night.
DT Ed Oliver
Big Ed made one big play, stoning running back Sony Michel in the backfield after the Georgia product had gashed the Bills for 32 yards on the first two plays from scrimmage. Oliver burst through the line and stopped Michel three yards deep in the backfield. My six-year-old son (who we allowed to stay up past his bedtime since we’re on winter break, and I mean, come on, the Bills are absolutely killing it right now) was really impressed with Oliver’s scream after making the tackle. Oliver made one more stop on the night as he played a season-low 24 snaps thanks to the blowout.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
Buffalo’s middle ‘backer had one really poor play, with New England quarterback Cam Newton putting him on skates during a nine-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter. However, Newton has done the same thing to plenty of players over the course of his career and, while he may look entirely shot as a passer, he can still use his incredible athleticism to make some plays. Edmunds had five tackles on the night, and he also found himself playing fewer snaps than usual thanks to the blowout. Tyler Matakevich replaced him late in the game.
S Jordan Poyer
Poyer had four tackles on the night, and one of them was on special teams. The tackle that made the greatest impact was one of Newton, where the 245-lb quarterback plowed into the 191-lb safety head-on. Poyer made the stop, but he was removed from the game and evaluated for a concussion. He returned to the field—but not before texting his wife to tell her that he was fine (she’s since deleted the tweet, but Marcel Louis-Jacques tweeted about it during the game). Stars...they’re just like us!