The Buffalo Bills beat the New York Jets on Sunday, winning 20-12 in a physical game played through freezing rain, sleet, and snow befitting of a December day in Western New York. The victory wasn't pretty by any means, but fortunately for the Bills, style points mean a whole lot less than the points that go on a scoreboard — and when all was said and done, the Bills scored more points where it mattered.
Think about it: If we told you before the game that the Jets would out-gain the Bills, that they’d be better on third down, that they’d have more first downs, that they’d win the time of possession battle by nearly 10 minutes, and that they’d block a Sam Martin punt... would you think that the Bills would have won the game?
This one was a street fight, and for a Buffalo team often accused of having a glass jaw over the better part of the last three years, they came ready to rumble. That was possible thanks to big performances from some key players. Were they all on our list of five players to watch? Absolutely not. However, our guys held their own in a tough battle.
Here’s how our five players to watch performed last Sunday.
QB Josh Allen
Another game against a tough Jets defense, and another slog fest for Buffalo’s QB1. This time, Allen didn’t turn it over, and that ultimately ended up being the biggest difference in the game, as the Bills won the turnover battle 2-0 this time around. Allen started off pretty miserably, as the rain, wind, and sleet led to some off-target throws. On the third play from scrimmage, Allen overshot a wide-open Stefon Diggs on a slant route, and it’s possible that Diggs would still be running had the ball been on target. Instead, it was incomplete, forcing the first of five consecutive drives that ended in a punt to start the game for the Bills. On the last drive before halftime, the real Allen stood up. He completed four of his five passes for a total of 43 yards and a touchdown to Dawson Knox, who made a phenomenal leap to flip into the end zone. Officially, Allen was 4-of-4 on the drive, since his one “incomplete” pass ended up a pass interference penalty when Michael Carter II mugged Khalil Shakir on a back-shoulder throw. Allen also scrambled twice for 16 yards on the drive. In the second half, Allen added a rushing touchdown to his ledger. He finished just 16-of-27 for 147 yards and that lone touchdown, adding 10 carries for 47 yards and the touchdown on the ground. Adam from Cover1 tweeted that Allen threw just four passes to the middle of the defense in two games against the Jets, which means that Allen avoided the weakest part of the New York pass defense in both matchups. It’s a curious decision, especially a week after the James Cook checkdowns killed the New England Patriots all night long. Allen’s numbers weren’t eye-popping, but if his receivers had hung on to a few more passes that he put right in their hands, we might be talking about a different vibe for his overall stats. For now, we’re more concerned with the fact that they came out of the game with a win.
RB Devin Singletary
For the second straight week, Singletary ceded snaps to James Cook, but he ended up playing more snaps yet again. He also had more touches than his rookie counterpart, as Singletary touched the ball nine times to Cook’s five. A week after the rookie went over 100 yards from scrimmage for the first time, Cook was unable to do much, carrying four times for just six yards and adding one catch for nine yards. While Singletary didn’t fare much better, he still did more, carrying eight times for 39 yards, adding one catch for four yards. Singletary dropped an easy checkdown for his second target of the day, and he gained 16 yards on his longest carry. Like the entire offensive effort for Buffalo, it wasn’t pretty for Singletary, but it was a solid, workmanlike effort with limited touches.
WR Stefon Diggs
Buffalo tried to manufacture good matchups for their top wideout by playing him in the slot. However, they were unable to feed him the ball like they’ve done all year. It started with the aforementioned miss on the first drive, and it ended with a screen pass where Cook just blew his blocking assignment entirely. Diggs motioned to come off the field after the latter play, and he was not targeted at all for the rest of the fourth quarter. He saw just five targets come his way overall, and he caught three of them for a total of 37 yards. His long was a 32-yard scamper off a short pass over the middle, the one ball in four tries that Allen completed in that area of the field all year against the Jets.
DT Tim Settle
Well, without Jordan Phillips, we assumed that Settle would see more snaps this week. We were right in that regard, as he jumped from a 22% snap share to a 34% snap share week-over-week. However, it was DaQuan Jones who saw the brunt of the increase, as he jumped from playing 56% of the snaps against the Patriots to playing 73% of the snaps against the Jets. Settle was able to make some plays, as he totaled two tackles and was part of a defense that held the Jets to just 76 rushing yards and 3.5 yards per rush. With Ed Oliver dinged in the game (he suffered a chest injury and was termed “day-to-day” by head coach Sean McDermott), Settle may continue to see some extra snaps if Phillips is unable to play on Saturday against the Miami Dolphins.
LB Matt Milano
Yes, we had A.J. Klein here. That’s because Milano had yet to practice when the article was filed on Thursday night, so we were hedging our bets that the stud linebacker would be out. Then, Milano practiced on Friday and he played on Sunday. As usual, he was excellent, notching a game-high nine tackles, two pass breakups, one fumble recovery, one tackle for a loss, and one absolutely bone-crunching hit on Jets quarterback Mike White. Frankly, in an era where breathing on the quarterback is sometimes a personal foul, I fully expected that Milano would be penalized for the shot. However, he wasn’t, and replay confirmed why: it was a textbook, legal hit, regardless of what some dodos on social media wrote. Milano is an elite linebacker, and Sunday’s effort was just another example of his talent.