The Buffalo Bills dismantled the New York Jets on Sunday, winning 32-6 in an epic beatdown that brought fun back to Bills football for at least one week. After weeks of stalled offense, poor execution, questionable play calling, and unsightly turnovers, Buffalo embarrassed an elite defense by scoring more points on them than have been scored since December 5, 2021.
Buffalo’s big players made huge plays, but a lot of those plays were made by people who weren’t on our list of players to watch. Well, you win some and you lose some. The most important thing here was that the Bills came out with their sixth win of the 2023 NFL season.
Here’s how our five players to watch performed on Sunday.
QB Josh Allen
That was more like it. Allen looked confident, decisive, and hyped in this one, completing 20-of-32 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw an interception at the end of the first half on a Hail Mary. And while the play looked a little Billsy for a second, safety Ashtyn Davis was tackled after a 51-yard return. Throughout the game, Allen looked to be in complete command of the offense, and he used his secondary receivers beautifully. Specifically, he used the running backs in the passing game to great effect, as he hit James Cook and Ty Johnson on scores. Sprinkled in was an 81-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Khalil Shakir, an absolute dart that beat cornerback Sauce Gardner in zone coverage. Shakir used some deft maneuvering to make his way into the end zone for the season’s longest receiving touchdown for any player in 2023. Allen’s patience received some backhanded praise from Jets head coach Robert Saleh, who said that “Josh played less hero-ball” than normal in the victory. Sometimes, the better part of valor is discretion, and Allen’s patience paid big dividends this week. He’ll have another tough task next week against the Philadelphia Eagles.
WR Stefon Diggs
Well, interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady did move Diggs all around the formation, but he didn’t call concepts that forced the ball to Buffalo’s top wideout, nor did Allen look as if he was trying to force-feed Diggs throughout the game. Instead, Allen targeted Diggs on eight of his 32 passes, which still led the squad, but Diggs caught just four balls for 27 yards. Part of that was Diggs’ own fault, as he dropped two passes in the first quarter on short throws. Part of that was game flow, as the Bills were able to find success in other areas with their other receivers. Shakir led the team in yardage with 115, and tight eDalton Kincaid continued his hot streak to lead the team in catches with six. It was a total team effort, and even when Diggs isn’t lighting up the stat sheet, his presence is of tremendous importance in the game.
WR Gabe Davis
In terms of the stats that wideouts are known for, Davis was invisible — literally — as he didn’t log an official target on the night. The only time I saw Allen throw his way was on a pass that was negated by a holding penalty, and that one was incomplete anyway, as Davis caught the ball out of bounds. Given his goose-egg stat line, one may assume that Davis was useless on the field. However, why would Joe Brady call Davis the “player of the game” in his Monday talk with the media? It’s because Davis does all the little things, blocking for his running backs and running pick and rub routes to free up his teammates. The fantasy football numbers are what earns a wideout the big contract, but the dirty work that Davis did on Sunday is what earns a wideout respect from his teammates and playing time from his coaches.
DT Linval Joseph
Joseph played 20 snaps, good for 35% of the defense’s output. He made just one tackle, a stop on quarterback Tim Boyle on his successful quarterback sneak on the first play of the fourth quarter. However, Joseph’s success isn’t marked in what he does, but instead is marked by what those around him do. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver continued to be a menace, notching his sixth sack. Linebacker Terrel Bernard had six tackles and another half-sack. Edge rusher Leonard Floyd had 2.5 sacks. Linebacker Tyrel Dodson had a sack, too. The Bills held the Jets to just 63 rushing yards on 18 carries, and running back Breece Hall carried ten times for just 23 yards. Joseph’s presence has been a huge lift for an injury-plagued defense.
CB Dane Jackson
It was Rasul Douglas’ night, as the former Green Bay Packers corner had four tackles, three pass breakups, two interceptions, and one fumble recovery. Jackson made but one play — a tackle on an 18-yard pass play for quarterback Zach Wilson and tight end Jeremy Ruckert. Jackson was whacked in the side of his head while tackling Ruckert, and he was instantly quite woozy. He came out of the game immediately and is in concussion protocol at the moment.