Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Bills-Ravens

December 08, 2019 - 10:51 pm
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The Buffalo Bills fell to 9-4 on the season after a 24-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at New Era Field.

That means we start with the Arrows Down:

ARROW DOWN:

  • The offense overall

Simply put, the Bills offense struggled mightily for most of the game. On their first 11 possessions, they punted seven times and lost a fumble. Three of their first four drives were three-and-outs. The other was a four-and-out. They were 4-for-17 on third down, only 24%, and had only 209 total net yards. They averaged only 3.02 yards per-offensive play, the eighth-worst number in the NFL for any team in any game this season.

  • QB - Josh Allen

Allen started the game by missing a couple of open receivers down the field, overthrowing wide receiver John Brown then tight end Dawson Knox. He completed only two for his first 10 passes. Although he got somewhat better as the game went on, he still wasn't good enough overall and struggled against the Ravens' pressure and cover-0 looks. He finished the game 17-for-39 (43.5%) for 146 yards with one touchdown pass and was sacked six times. He also fumbled twice, losing one of them. After a solid three weeks, it was a huge step back for Allen as a passer.

  • Pass Protection

The Ravens brought more pressure than the Bills had seen all season, and they didn't handle it well. Running backs had to stay in and protect a lot, giving Allen fewer options, but he also was under duress a lot of the afternoon. Baltimore wound up sacking him six times, and Ravens defenders were credited with 12 quarterback hurries!

  • Dropped passes

Knox dropped, yet, another pass that he should have had, which seems like a weekly occurrence. The pass he dropped was on 3rd-and-8 and would have been good for a first down, but forced the Bills to kick a field goal instead of threatening for a touchdown. Running back Devin Singletary also dropped a big pass when it hit him right in the hands as he was one-on-one near the sideline. If he had held on, he had one man to beat and then would have been in the open field with a lot of green turf in front of him for a huge gain.

  • P - Corey Bojorquez

Bojorquez had a booming 67-yard punt that wound up in the end zone and another 52-yard punt. Both basically helped flip field position, but he also had punts of 35, 41, 33, and 29 yards that didn't help his team at all. Punting seven times isn't good for any offense, but he needed to be much more consistent and better than he was today.

  • Miscommunication on the long Baltimore's touchdown pass

On the third play of the second half, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson found a wide open Hayden Hurst across the middle, who caught the ball and ran untouched for a 61-yard touchdown pass. On the play, Bills safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer had some sort of miscommunication, which led to Hurst being so wide open and no one close enough to then run him down.

ARROW UP:

  • Defensive game plan

All week we hear Bills defenders talk about "eye discipline" and doing their jobs, especially when attacking Jackson. They did a great job doing all of that. Other than the one big play the Ravens had due to the miscommunication (as mentioned above), they really had no where to go most to the game on offense. Buffalo's defense contained them and made them earn everything. Head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier constructed an excellent game plan their players executed. The Ravens came into the game as the No. 2 offense the NFL, averaging 420 total yards per-game and 6.26 yards per-play. The Bills held them to 257 total yards and only 4.36 yards per-play, the fourth-lowest average they've allowed to any team all season.

  • Run defense

The Ravens came into the game with the No. 1 (Lamar Jackson), No. 4 (Gus Edwards), and No. 5 (Mark Ingram) rushers in the NFL, as far as average per-carry, and the No. 1 overall rushing offense, averaging over 207 yards per-game and 5.60 yards per-play. The Bills held the trio to a total of 110 yards on the ground and the Ravens offense to a season-low 118 rushing yards, and next-to-low 3.6 yards per-carry overall.

  • Containment of Lamar Jackson

Jackson came into the game needing 63 yards rushing to break Michael Vick's single-season record for a quarterback. He didn't get there. His longest run of the day was for 16 yards in the first quarter. After that, he ran for a total of 24 yards. Jackson finished with 40 yards and a 3.6 average, both his lowest totals since Week 1 in Miami. Jackson was also held to his third-lowest passing yardage total of the season with 145 yards, and second-lowest yards per-attempt with only 5.80.

  • Tremaine Edmunds and Lorenzo Alexander

Edmunds, in only his second year, and Alexander, in his 15th season, were both all over the field for the Bills. Edmunds played one of his best overall games of the season, finishing with eight total tackles, two tackles for loss, one pass breakup, and the only interception of the game. Alexander ended with seven total tackles, one for a loss, a quarterback hurry, and a pass defensed.

  • RB - Devin Singletary

Even with Jackson, Ingram, and Edwards on the same field, the Bills' rookie running back led all players with 89 rushing yards, and also with 5.2 yards per-carry. In the second half, Singletary had seven carries for 43 yards, an average of 6.1 yards per-carry.

  • K - Stephen Hauschka

After a poor Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas, Hauschka bounced back in a big way, connecting on all three field goal attempts, including one from 47 yards and one from 48 yards out.

THE BIG PICTURE:

The Bills had a great opportunity to make a statement to the rest of the NFL, and football fans and watchers across the country in this game. A win would have opened a lot of eyes to a team clearly on the rise and suddenly in the conversation for "best team in the AFC."

It didn't happen.

That doesn't mean they didn't prove some things, mainly on defense.

This game was a heavyweight battle and big-boy football, and the Bills stood toe-to-toe with one of the best offenses in the league. For that, fans should feel good, and encouraged.

With that said, they also proved they still don't have an offense good enough, or at least consistent enough, to compete with the best teams in the NFL on a weekly basis.

Ultimately, this loss confirmed to most what we really already knew - the Bills defense can play with anyone. The offense has the ability to play well, but needs quite a bit to go right and can't afford to make mistakes.

I've felt most of this week the Bills were playing with house money in this game. A win would be terrific and even give them a shot to make the playoffs (as it turns out, that's exactly what would have happened since the three teams they needed to lose all did). A loss certainly doesn't kill their season and they'd still be in a good spot.

Here they are, still in that good spot. It's just a little "less good."

Now, the Bills will play the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday night at Heinz Field in a primetime game on national television with the fifth seed in the AFC on the line. If the Steelers win, they'll jump the Bills. If the Bills win, they're in the playoffs. No more help needed. They control their own destiny.

That's all that matters now.


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