It's on to Houston

The Bills get their meaningless finale out of the way

Howard Simon
December 29, 2019 - 6:14 pm
Matt Barkley

Photo: Rich Barnes - USA TODAY Sports

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This Buffalo Bills-New York Jets game was exactly what we thought it was going to be. It felt like a preseason game where the main priority was to come out healthy.

Unfortunately, the Bills did have some players get banged up, and the injuries to cornerbacks Levi Wallace and Taron Johnson will certainly bear watching as the Bills prepare for the Houston Texans and their talented receiving group. The Bills were so thin at corner that they actually played wide receiver Isiah McKenzie on the outside late in the game.

The Bills were pretty smart with their playing time plan starting with their inactive list. Key players who did not dress included wide receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley, running back Devin Singletary, tight end Dawson Knox and cornerback Tre'Davious White.

Linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds, and safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer were pulled out of the game after just one series. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have played Josh Allen, but he was in for just two series and was never in any danger. The Bills called safe pass plays, including back-to-back screens and Allen didn’t run at all.  

As you might expect with so many key offensive weapons on the sideline, the Bills didn’t do much when they had the ball. The way the offense looked reminded me of last season and a three-game stretch in which the Bills totaled just 20 points while playing Nathan Peterman and Derek Anderson at quarterback. Backup Matt Barkley and company were kept out of the end zone, converted just 29% of their third down attempts, were 0-for-2 in the red zone and had three turnovers.

The game was an opportunity for some offensive players who haven’t seen game action in a while to get back on the field.

Wide receiver Duke Williams made his first appearance in nine games and was the Bills' best player on offense. Williams had a game-high 12 targets and caught six of them for 108 yards. Maybe Williams did enough to earn a spot in the Wild Card game on Saturday in Houston.

Running back T.J. Yeldon played for the first time since Week 5. He had 18 yards rushing and added 24 yards receiving. Rookie tight end Tommy Sweeney also made his first appearance since Week 5 and caught all five of his targets for 76 yards. Sweeney showed some promise during the preseason and, again, looked like a guy who could be a solid pass catching option at that position. 

The Bills' points came on field goals of 28 and 29 yards from Stephen Hauschka. For what it's worth, remember when we were all freaking out about Hauschka a few weeks ago? He did end the season 21-of-23 (91%) on field goals under 50 yards. Hauschka’s problem is his distance, which isn’t the same anymore. He was 1-of-5 on kicks of 50 yards or longer.

Even though the Jets won, it was a struggle for second-year quarterback Sam Darnold against Bills backups. Darnold only threw for 199 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Jets had 11 drives and produced just 271 net yards and two field goals to go with the one touchdown. 

Now we can set our sights on the playoffs and the Texans.

If you’re worried about the Bills going into the postseason with back-to-back losses for the first time this season, don’t. This game meant absolutely nothing and it won’t affect the Bills' confidence in the least.

Don’t forget, the Bills did go 6-2 on the road this season.

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