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Plays That Defined 2021: Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints

Gobble, gobble!

Welcome to Plays That Defined 2021! This ain’t your usual game recap. Here’s what to do. Pretend you’ve just written a novel and it’s time to select the cover art. You want a single picture that tells the reader what it’s all about, right? That’s the deal here. Vote for the play that best tells the “story” of this game. Which GIF is the best “cover art” for...

Week 12: Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints

The Buffalo Bills were coming off a demoralizing loss versus the Indianapolis Colts. With a short week to prepare for the Saints on Thanksgiving, a rebound was no guarantee. New Orleans boldly decided to have so many injuries to running backs that at one point they called me to see if I could take the field. A one-dimensional opponent was easy prey for the Bills’ defense. The offense steadily piled up points and Buffalo was back on the right side of a blowout game.

Dawson Knox’s touchdown (Q1, 7:15)

You might have caught on in the years that I’ve done this series that I’m a sucker for the “game-winning score.” This was the Bills’ first drive and the Saints wouldn’t respond until the start of the fourth quarter. While Buffalo kept scoring between these two points, it’s fun to think that if nothing else changed except for the rest of the Bills’ scoring plays, this would have won the game. This play also highlights the not-very-explosive, but methodical offense that led to a nearly ten-minute advantage in time of possession.

Mario Addison’s tackle for loss (Q2, 12:51)

After the game, Saints head coach Sean Payton talked about the team’s aggressive tendencies in the game, trying to make sure they could keep up with the potent Buffalo offense. Despite multiple attempts at extending drives rather than punting, the aggression did not pay off.

Devin Singletary’s short gain (Q3, 14:28)

Looking at the box score you’d think that Buffalo ran wild over the Saints, but reality was a bit different. The Bills ran often, even eclipsing their passing attempts in rare fashion. Overall, they didn’t run WELL though. At 3.5 yards per carry as a team, this four-yard gain nearly counts as a highlight. This mundane play is a good illustration that Buffalo didn’t need any theatrics to methodically grind down a depleted Saints team.

Allen to Diggs for 28 yards (Q4, 10:42)

Formerly criticized as being too conservative, head coach Sean McDermott’s recent history has trended toward constant aggressive tendencies. While the Bills were happy to grind away much of the night and this game was already causing fans to leave the stadium, the Bills smelled blood in the water. Rather than merely trying to burn clock, Josh Allen found Stefon Diggs to start this drive with a flourish. A couple ineffective rushes ensued, followed by a 23-yard touchdown pass to Matt Breida. Buffalo didn’t need the score, but they went and took it anyway.

Tony Jones’s 11-yard run (Q4, 2:00)

Sometimes the outlier can illustrate a pattern better than the pattern itself. This 11-yard run came when the game was effectively over. This run was 25% of the rushing yards for the day. And I do mean for the entire team. The Saints had 44 yards on the ground. Tony Jones gained the most yards with 27. Ty Montgomery was the most efficient runner on the team at 2.33 yards per carry. That is not a typo. With a dearth of weapons on offense for New Orleans, the Bills were able to play shutdown football despite the short week.

Voting time!


Which play best defines (illustrates) the Turkey Day win over the Saints?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Dawson Knox TD
    (170 votes)
  • 23%
    Mario Addison TFL
    (72 votes)
  • 1%
    Singletary short gain
    (5 votes)
  • 17%
    Allen to Diggs for 28 yards
    (55 votes)
  • 1%
    Tony Jones 11-yard run
    (4 votes)
306 votes total Vote Now