The Buffalo Bills needed a win against the Carolina Panthers to give themselves a chance at their second straight AFC East crown. Buffalo was able to overcome some offensive line illness, as two starters were on the Reserve/COVID-19 list for the game, and they picked up an important victory, winning 31-14.
The Bills did a nice job on offense against a tough defensive squad, and they did exactly what they should have done against a horrendous offense. Our players to watch all had a big impact on the game, though some had a more positive impact than others.
Here’s how our five players to watch performed on Sunday.
QB Josh Allen
It certainly wasn’t his best day statistically, as Allen sailed some early, easy throws and missed a few others that he normally hits. Allen looked as if he was definitely hampered by that foot sprain he suffered against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he didn’t run nearly as much as a result. Allen actually only had one carry on the day, a 26-yard scramble in the third quarter (while he officially carried three times for 24 yards, the other two were kneel-downs at the end of the game). Allen did complete 19-of-34 passes on the day for a total of 210 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He was sacked four times, partly as a result of his limited mobility, and partly because of poor protection brought on by some reshuffling of his line again. The interception looked like a cross between a poor read on Allen’s part and a great individual play by Jeremy Chinn, who dropped out of his zone and into what Allen thought was an open window before high-pointing the ball to secure the catch. Allen made one of the most casual incredible throws I’ve ever seen in hitting Gabriel Davis for the first of his two touchdowns. Allen threw a dart that counts as a 20-yard touchdown, but it really traveled around 35 yards in the air, squeezing between three Panthers defenders and into Davis’s waiting arms. Allen became the first quarterback in franchise history to throw 30 touchdown passes in consecutive seasons, but he’s also the only quarterback to throw 30 touchdown passes in a season two times. Jim Kelly only did it once, throwing for 33 touchdowns in 1991. Allen could surpass him as early as this week.
RB Devin Singletary
Buffalo’s clear-cut RB1 did a nice job again, as he toted the rock a season-high 22 times on Sunday. With Zack Moss inactive and Matt Breida appearing on just three offensive snaps, Singletary made the most of the opportunities he had. He rushed for 86 yards, a disappointing 3.9 yards per carry, but he’s still averaging 4.7 yards per rush for the season. Singletary also caught his only target and turned it into a ten-yard gain. In the second quarter, he ran for a 16-yard touchdown to open the scoring. Part of the reason why Singletary has seen some success of late is that offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is doing what Singletary does well, which is attack the edges rather than running simple lead-dives and power plays. If the Bills can add a little run-game success, it will only improve their passing offense, as it will open up plenty of play-action.
RT LT Spencer Brown
Yikes. Brown was put in a rough spot this week, as he was asked to flip to the left side and protect Allen’s blind spot against a formidable pass rush. Brown was not up to the task, as he allowed plenty of pressures in what was easily the worst game of his career. To make matters worse, Brown was flagged for five penalties—three holding calls, one of which was negated by an offsetting flag, a false start, and an idiotic taunting penalty. That last one led to a temporary benching. Brown is an animal, but it’s pretty clear that he needs to remain on the right side when possible.
DE Jerry Hughes
After spending much of this season a quiet contributor, Hughes made some plays on Sunday. Among his three tackles was a tackle for a loss, and he also tipped a Cam Newton pass at the line of scrimmage. It was a pretty even rotation among the defensive ends, as Hughes played 53 percent of the snaps, but his linemate who made the most impact was the one who played the least. Efe Obada had two sacks on his 18 snaps, a solid return on his time. Hughes works hard and sets the edge well, but his time is slowly coming to an end here in Buffalo.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
The Bills used Edmunds as a blitzer a bit more on Sunday, and that is a better role for him, I think, than as a read-and-react middle linebacker. Allowing Edmunds to use his athleticism in the A-Gap often helps the team out, and it helps Edmunds, too, as he can play fast without having to guess which gap to hit. He managed a quarterback hit on Cam Newton and added seven tackles to his team-leading total. He has 89 on the season.