The Buffalo Bills hosted another Wild Card playoff game for the second straight year on Saturday night, this time against the hated New England Patriots. Luckily for the home team, Josh Allen was locked in, as was the defense. The offense literally wasn’t stopped all night, and after a first-quarter interception of rookie Mac Jones, the defense held up outside of “garbage time.” Even better, most of the team’s rookies had what could be considered their best games of the season. More about how each rookie performed below.
DE Gregory Rousseau
The rookie defensive end has turned it up a notch in the last couple of games, returning to the form he had early in the season, especially when it comes to the run game. The Patriots’ offensive line had a hard time disengaging and moving him from his spot on perimeter run plays for a lot of the game. Once again though, his pass rush wasn’t very effective. You can’t bully a 6’8”, 380-lb Trent Brown—you beat him with technique.
DE Carlos Basham Jr.
With 25 snaps against the Patriots, Basham has been receiving more and more work on both the edge and as an interior pass rusher. With the former, he’s different from Rousseau in that he actually has a fair amount of pass rush moves to use. They didn’t always work against Brown either, but it showed that he’s learning his trade and testing his opponent. That and his pure effort and willingness to move around allowed him to finish with a sack, a tackle for a loss, and another quarterback hit. His sack was the result of coverage when Mac Jones dropped his eyes and decided to run. Being active over Efe Obada is still a big deal.
OT Spencer Brown
One of the reason’s for Buffalo’s recent rushing resurgence has been the coaches’ willingness to use Brown’s mobility to pull as an asset on gap plays. Against the Patriots, his talent was on full display in the running game, including on Josh Allen-designed sweeps. While Brown’s run-blocking has always been his strength, he looked very comfortable against the pass rush as well. It was his key block on a blitzer—by keeping his head on a swivel and looking for work—that allowed Allen the time to find Dawson Knox in the back of the end zone on his first touchdown. It must be said though that New England’s game plan was more predicated on containing Josh Allen, than being preoccupied with rushing upfield.
OT Tommy Doyle
Doyle’s emergence as a sixth-offensive lineman in particular jumbo packages continued, with the rookie tackle coming in for 11 snaps in that capacity. His play of the game though was most certainly his one-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. Utilizing a defensive tackle-like swim-move, Doyle found himself wide open for a simple toss from Allen.
WR Marquez Stevenson
The rookie seems to have officially lost his return job as a result of the Atlanta Falcons game when he fumbled twice. Stevenson was held inactive for the second straight week.
S Damar Hamlin
Actually seeing some time on the field as the game was mostly put away, Hamlin played the Hyde role as deep safety. He’s a strong tackler, which is crucial for that spot. He really laid the wood on Rhamondre Stevenson on one particular run.
CB Rachad Wildgoose
On November 16, the New York Jets signed Wildgoose to their 53-man roster off of the Bills’ practice squad.
OG Jack Anderson
On September 21, the Philadelphia Eagles signed Anderson to their 53-man roster and off of the Bills’ practice squad.