You may have heard by now that the Buffalo Bills shut down the passing attack of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Many people have placed Jackson as an early MVP of the 2022 NFL season, so doing what Buffalo accomplished on the road Sunday is worthy of a closer look. At game’s end, the Bills clipped the Ravens’ winged passing attack, allowing only 144 air yards and picking Jackson off twice.
This is a 3rd & 15 with Lamar Jackson in the shotgun in an empty look. The Bills blitz with seven and the Ravens only have six blockers (so Buffalo has the numbers advantage). Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds rushes in unblocked, going between the tackle and tight end. Edmunds runs full speed into Jackson and chases him down, which forces him to throw away the football.
This time it’s 3rd & 8 with the Bills show a blitz by Edmunds pre-snap. Baltimore has Jackson in shotgun with a running back next to him, three receivers to his left, and one to his right. At the snap, Edmunds drops back into the middle of the field (serving as a spy) with his eyes on Jackson. Every receiver is covered while linebacker Matt Milano takes the running back (Jackson’s check-down option). This forces Jackson to make a tough throw right in stride to wide receiver Rashod Bateman (Jackson’s pass is a little off target). The Bills took every safety option from Jackson during this play and forced him to make a tough throw in stride to the middle of the field—with pressure in his face while it was raining.
Pre-snap Jackson is in shotgun on 3rd & 6 with a running back to his right. Buffalo’s defense has both Edmunds and Milano creeping up to the line to show pressure. At the snap, both linebackers drop in coverage and every receiver is covered. Defensive tackle DaQuan Jones pushes the left tackle back, forcing Jackson to leave the pocket (while two defenders pursue him with an angle) and run to the left edge of the field. As Jackson turns up field for the first down, cornerback Taron Johnson meets him at the down marker to force him out of bounds.
It’s 1st & 10 with Jackson in shotgun. At the snap, Jackson fakes the handoff and attempts to throw it in the middle of the field. Defensive tackle Prince Emili puts his hands up and tips Jackson’s pass—sending it vertically and into the arms of safety Jordan Poyer for the interception.
Now for a play most will recall the rest of this season and beyond. It’s 4th & Goal with the game likely on the line. Pre-snap, Jackson is in an empty shotgun, with three receivers to his right and two to his left. At the snap, Jackson drops back and defensive end Shaq Lawson beats the left tackle to create pressure. Jackson has to backpedal due to Lawson’s pressure and defensive end Greg Rousseau also finds a clean angle on him. With both Lawson and Rousseau closing in on Jackson, he throws an inadvisable pass (pressure is often an equalizer) that Poyer comes down with for his second interception.
Head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier are two of the best defensive minds in the business. The team’s secondary suffocated every receiver—there honestly wasn’t much separation to be found during the game’s entire second half. The Bills created a lot of pressure on Jackson, both by using elaborate blitzes and by simply rushing four. Nothing came easy for Jackson in the passing game and everything he found success with was surely earned. So, what did you see at Buffalo’s turning point toward victory last Sunday?