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Bills vs. Steelers All-22 analysis: Khalil Shakir’s receptions

AFC Wildcard Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills took down the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Wild Card Round of the 2023 NFL Playoffs to advance to the Divisional Round for the fourth consecutive season. A weather delay moved the game back a day and now has the Bills with a shorter week to prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs, which also means your friendly neighborhood content creators have a shorter week.

As such, it’s a good thing some abbreviated topics can serve good editorial opportunities — including players who made key contributions in limited roles. Wide receiver Khalil Shakir was targeted three times, catching all three — including the final score of the night against the Steelers. Let’s take a look.

Play 1 — Opening things up

Josh Allen’s first pass of the night was complete to Khalik Shakir thanks to good pre-snap reads and Allen’s arm strength. I know many Bills fans have decried Sean head coach McDermott’s tendency to play with a cushion, but maybe he’s not the only coach who does it. And here’s the reason why it can be worth the gamble.

At the pause we have the distance from Allen to Shakir (A) and the distance from the defender to Shakir (B). I don’t have time for the full math, but A is over twice the distance as B. If the defender reads the play right they can arrive at the same time as the ball and force a break up. Arm strength isn’t just for bombs. It’s for passes like these. Allen can take the easy five yards all night if teams allow it.

Play 2 — They were trying for points

Right before the half, Buffalo tested the waters to try for additional points, and were doing pretty well to this point. On this play, Shakir found a soft spot and Allen delivered. Shakir had to slow down to make the catch but did so with a flourish that also added a few yards.

Play 3 — The Touchdown

Josh Allen’s first pass of the night was complete to Shakir, and so was his final one. This one went for a touchdown thanks to incredible individual effort from Shakir. Hats off to the Steelers, who played this near perfectly at first. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs’ route looked like it was intended to either get him open or draw coverage away from Shakir to catch it and have some room to run.

At the pause, the red line shows who picks up Shakir (and who was not drawn away by Diggs) while the blue lines show how Pittsburgh still managed to double-cover the phenom. This play could have been stopped for minimal gain, but Shakir planted his hand like a Spider-Man pose, turned it around and made everyone miss.

The Final Straw

The Buffalo Bills, like most teams this time of year, have been bit hard by the injury bug. That means new wrinkles and changes of pace are important to sustain momentum. With the fifth-highest number of targets on the team, Shakir isn’t a new wrinkle in totality, but would qualify as a change of pace.

Among receivers with more than ten targets, Shakir’s catch percentage is tops on the team at 86.7%. That’s higher than James Cook in a stat that’s usually dominated by running backs. Even crazier is that his yards per reception sits at 15.7 yards per catch, second only to wide receiver Gabe Davis. If Buffalo needs to mix things up, Shakir may be what the doctor ordered.