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Bills-Dolphins: Next Gen Stats highlight the power of Allen to Diggs

The deep ball was an oft-used weapon last Sunday

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Wild card weekend has concluded, and the Buffalo Bills are moving on to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. But first, Next Gen Stats (NGS) has dropped its weekly accumulation of statistics from last week’s games, and multiple Bills made the cut, including quarterback Josh Allen, wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, running backs Devin Singletary and James Cook, and even rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam.

Allen’s 52-yard completion to Diggs in the first quarter wound up being the most improbable of his career, and the longest against an eight-man blitz since 2016. He had just 1.1 yards of pass rush separation when he got the throw off, which traveled an air distance of 59.8 yards — the second-longest pass in NGS playoff era.

Per NGS, Diggs hauled in the deep pass with a completion probability of just 15.6% — the lowest of any catch in the playoffs in the last four seasons, and the lowest by any Bills player in any game in the NGS era.

Allen was blitzed on 52.2% of his dropbacks, his highest rate faced since Week 14 in 2020, and faced a career-high 47.8% pressure rate. He countered this scheme by throwing 11 deep passes — the most by any quarterback in a game this season. He went 4-of-11 for 139 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, on those throws. Buffalo clearly felt the deep-ball game was there, as Allen averaged 11.6 air yards per completion, 15.5 air yards per attempt, and 6.7 air yards past the sticks, all season highs.

This is where Diggs came in as a safety blanket when the Miami Dolphins sent the heat. Diggs caught all five of his targets for 102 yards, marking his most yards versus the blitz in a game since 2016. Per NGS, he caught seven passes for 114 yards and had a +20.0% catch rate over expected overall.

On the other side of the field was Davis, who caught five of seven targets on passes over 10 air yards for 105 yards and a touchdown. In the postseason (since 2020, in Davis’ case), on passes traveling 10 or more air yards, Davis has +5.9 receptions over expected (first), +145 receiving yards over expected (first), and six touchdowns (first). He had the lowest cushion of any receiver this week (3.7 yards), although he had a healthy average separation of three yards. His 23-yard touchdown grab had a completion probability of 31.1%, the fifth-most improbable of the week, and Davis had just 1.4 yards of sideline distance to get both feet in bounds.

Although the run game wasn’t utilized too much, Singletary picked up a modest 48 yards on 10 carries (+11 rushing yards over expected) and faced a stacked box on 50% of his rushes. He gained yards over expecetd on 60% of his carries — the highest mark among running backs in the wild card round. Miami also stacked the box on 41.7% of Cook’s carries, which totaled out to 12 for 39 yards (-9 RYOE). Cook was also one of just four running backs to score a rushing touchdown over the weekend.

Buffalo’s defense came up big on multiple occasions, but one play that stood out was made by Elam on the final drive of the game for the Dolphins. He effectively broke up quarterback Skylar Thompson’s pass intended for tight end Mike Gesicki to force a turnover on downs. Per NGS, the rookie allowed just one reception for two yards and an interception on five targets. As a team, the Bills limited Thompson well, as his 44.7 passer rating was the lowest of the weekend, as well as his -15% completion percentage below expectation.

An interesting stat from NGS regarding both squads is that each team had 12 different players record a pressure, tying the NGS era record for the most players with a pressure in a game (24).