The Buffalo Bills defeated the New England Patriots in Week 13, winning 24-10 in a game that never felt as close as the score would indicate. The Bills dominated time of possession, yardage and, most importantly, on the scoreboard. It was a workmanlike effort for a Buffalo team in need of a divisional win, and they kicked off their three-game run of divisional contests in about the best way possible.
Our five players to watch on Thursday night performed in a bit of a hit-or-miss fashion, and that’s especially true of our offensive picks for the game. Buffalo continues to integrate different players into their offensive scheme, and first-year offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey seems to be finding a groove with regard to his personnel. There are still some players I’d like to see featured a bit more, but overall, the team has produced.
Here’s how our five players to watch performed last week.
WR Gabe Davis
In another low-volume game, Buffalo’s WR2 did what he’s done all year. He saw seven targets, yet was only able to haul in two of them for a total of 15 yards. He whiffed on a ball along the sideline, clapping his hands together and just missing the rock. He was in position to make some plays, and he didn’t make many, but it was one that he did make that was the highlight of the night. As quarterback Josh Allen rolled right on a third-down play, he was quickly running out of room. Davis crossed all the way from the left side of the formation to the back-right corner of the end zone. He was surrounded by three defenders, yet Allen trusted Davis to move back towards the middle of the end zone into open space. He went airborne, throwing a ball that would make every high-school coach in America yell bad words into his closed fist, and Davis worked to the spot to catch the eight-yard touchdown. Asked why he threw the pass after the game, Allen responded that he trusts Davis completely and he knew that the third-year wideout would be in the right place. It hasn’t been the smoothest transition to a larger role for the former fourth-round pick out of UCF, but to be fair, I think many of us (myself included) may have had unrealistic expectations for the Robin to Stefon Diggs’s Batman.
TE Dawson Knox
One target. Allen threw 33 passes, and he targeted Dawson Knox once. It wasn’t a good throw, as Allen was under duress. He tossed an ugly duckling Knox’s way, and he couldn’t make the catch. Knox was used often as an extra blocker to help slow the Patriots’ pass rush, and for the most part, that plan helped to keep Allen clean. Rather than it being a big game for Knox and Davis to step up in giving Diggs some support, it was actually wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (five catches on five targets for 44 yards) and running back James Cook (six catches on six targets for 41 yards) who stepped up to help in the win. This is a good thing, by the way, when multiple players are stepping up in different games to drive the team forward. There are a lot of mouths to feed, and while Buffalo’s weapons could easily be described as “Diggs and a bunch of other guys,” it’s encouraging to see some of those “other guys” start to contribute more consistently as the season wears on. Knox will be ready when his number is called.
LT David Quessenberry
It wasn’t a pretty performance for the reserve tackle who was pressed into starting duty thanks to an injury to left tackle Dion Dawkins, but there’s good reason for that. Dawkins was out with an ankle injury, and on the first drive of the game, it appeared that Quessenberry suffered an ankle injury of his own. Rather than cede playing time to the third-string left tackle, Quessenberry had trainers tape him up and he gutted out the rest of the game. Quessenberry did miss some snaps thanks to the injury, and he made a matador block that led to a strip-sack to kill a drive before halftime, but he gave everything he had to help the team. For that, I have to give him props.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
Seriously...how much better is this defense when Edmunds plays? My man was everywhere on Thursday night. The Patriots live on crossers over the middle. Why couldn’t they do that against Buffalo? Edmunds. They also thrive on play-action passes, and Edmunds read his keys masterfully all night long. He even made a pair of run stuffs at the line of scrimmage, so they don’t go down as the elusive “tackle for loss,” but they were huge plays in the game all the same. Edmunds was Buffalo’s leading tackler, notching six on the night. Not bad considering that the Patriots had the ball for just 21:52 and 54 offensive plays.
CB Tre’Davious White
Against the Detroit Lions, White appeared on 15 defensive snaps, dipping his toe back into the game-day waters after a year recovering from a torn ACL. On Thursday, White more than doubled that snap total, appearing on 33 snaps. He totaled four tackles and a pass breakup on the night as part of a three-man rotation between him, Xavier Rhodes, and Dane Jackson at outside corner. White has looked healthy, willing to tackle on the edges, and strong in coverage in limited action. He’s another player who makes Buffalo’s outstanding defense even better.