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Buffalo Bills finish as top-ranked defense for 2021 regular season

The Bills bring a formidable defense into the playoffs

During a 2021 regular season that saw the Buffalo Bills claim their second straight AFC East divisional championship, the team finished with the NFL’s top-ranked defense—the first time in 22 years that Buffalo led the league in total defense.

The Bills finished first in total defense, one of seven statistical categories where Buffalo was tops among the 32 NFL teams. Buffalo surrendered the fewest points per game (17) among any team—the first time in franchise history that the Bills claimed that distinction. The Bills also were No. 1 in fewest yards allowed per game (272.8), and the fewest passing yards/game (163).

Buffalo might have saved its best defensive performance for last, a 27-10 win over the New York Jets. Buffalo’s stifling defense held the Jets to 53 yards of total offense and four first downs, setting a franchise record for fewest first downs and the second-lowest yards of offense allowed in a game.

With that dominant performance against the Jets, the Bills completed a rare double-double, becoming the first team since the 2014 Seattle Seahawks to lead the league in both fewest points allowed (289) and fewest yards allowed (4,637). For reference, those Seahawks advanced to the Super Bowl before falling to the New England Patriots by a 28-24 score.

This year, the Bills were the league’s top-ranked squad in total defense for the final 15 weeks of the regular season, and also led the league in the following categories:

  • Total yards allowed per play (4.6)
  • Passing yards per play (4.65)
  • First downs allowed per game (16.7)
  • Third down conversion rate allowed (30.8%)

Not bad for a unit that didn’t have a single player earn a Pro Bowl honor. Buffalo becomes the first team since the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers to finish the regular season with the best defense and not have anyone named to the Pro Bowl.