A tale of two halves

The Bills offense shows up late in a come-from-behind win over the Jets

Howard Simon
September 08, 2019 - 6:41 pm

Photo: Vincent Carchietta - USA TODAY Sports

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When the Buffalo Bills scored to make it 16-10 in the fourth quarter, I got a text from my brother who is a lifelong New York Jets fan. He told me the Bills were going to win 17-16. As a lifelong Jets fan, he has seen many “Jetsy” losses.

I texted him back and told him I’d seen this play out before. The Bills look terrible on offense, finally score, make you think they can come back and win because the defense has been keeping them in the game and find a painful way to fall short.

Thank goodness my brother was right.

It's only the first game of the season, but it was a big win for a number of reasons. It was a division win, a conference win, a win on the road and a win over a team the Bills could be fighting against for a Wild Card spot come December.

The win also came on a day when the Bills offense did everything it could to give the game to the Jets by halftime. Amazingly, four first half turnovers by the Bills were turned into just six points by the Jets, and that came on a pick-six.

The Bills defense did an outstanding job of stopping New York and leaving their teammates on offense a chance to pull off the biggest fourth quarter comeback by the Bills in 22 years.

It was a rough first half for second-year quarterback Josh Allen, but to his credit, he hung in there and it didn’t snowball on him. Rookie running back Devin Singeltary was the spark, but Allen was the driving force. The Bills put together back-to-back touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and Allen looked very comfortable leading the way. Buffalo had an eight-play, 85-yard touchdown drive and followed that with an eight-play, 80-yard drive capped off by a 38-yard touchdown pass to John Brown that goes down as a game-winner. Allen was 8-of-10 for 102 yards over those two drives. In addition to throwing the touchdown pass, he also scored a touchdown on a three-yard run.

I’ll bet the Bills' offensive gameplan caught many of you by surprise. Instead of coming out and establishing the run, the Bills went “Air Daboll”.

The Jets' biggest weakness on defense is the secondary, specifically the corners. The Bills came out with a no huddle, spread the Jets out, an attack mentality. Allen dropped back to pass on the first 18 snaps. Out of 35 offensive plays in the first half, the running backs combined for just three carries.

One of the many questions about the offense in the preseason was whether or not the Bills would be confident in winning game while leaning on Allen and the passing attack. The answer was yes in Week 1.

I didn’t have a problem with their plan, even though they were shutout in the first half, but it would have been nice to get Singeltary involved early. The third round draft pick from Florida Atlantic put some juice in the offense during the preseason games and his performance was a big reason why the Bills felt they could move on from LeSean McCoy. But Singeltary didn't get his first carry until six-and-a-half minutes were left in the third quarter. As it is, he only had four runs but still totaled 70 yards. 

He wasn’t the only newcomer that paid immediate dividends.

Brown led the Bills in targets (10), catches (7) and receiving yards (123). Brown showed he is more than just a deep threat. It was a busy first half for Cole Beasley, who had five catches for 40 yards but he was blanked in the second half. 

The offense came up big in the final quarter, but the defense was tremendous all game long. They won their matchup against the Jets' offensive line, and limited the Jets' passing attack to dink and dunk plays. Sam Darnold completed 28 of his throws, but only for 175 yards. He had no choice to get the ball out fast and short because the line couldn’t hold up against the Bills' pass rush.

Buffalo ended up with four sacks and five pass breakups from defensive linemen and linebackers. Rookie tackle Ed Oliver got some good push, and created pressure on a handful of plays.

Special teams played a key role in this game as well.

Stephen Hauschka was solid after a shaky preseason. He connected on a 43-yard field goal and was two-for-two on extra points. Jets kicker Kaare Vedvik missed an extra point and a 45-yard field goal attempt in the loss.

No question the offense needs to be much better if the Bills want to be playing football in January. While the defense looked great, it would be a big ask if the Bills are held under 20 points more often than not, but at least the offense found a way to get it done in crunch time; there’s something to be said for that.

Now we can keep on dreaming about the Bills being 3-0 with the New England Patriots coming to town in Week 4.

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