Three up, three down following Buffalo's upset victory in Atlanta - The Buffalo News

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Three up, three down following Buffalo's upset victory in Atlanta

The Buffalo Bills are alone in first place in the AFC East after Sunday's 23-17 victory over the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons.

The Buffalo Bills are alone in first place in the AFC East after Sunday's 23-17 victory over the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons.

(I wrote that sentence twice for you just to help it sink in a little more).

"The coaches put together a good game plan across the board and they stayed with it," coach Sean McDermott said. "This is a tough place to play. They are the defending NFC Champions, with one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Things didn’t always go our way. We had some things we would like back so we have some work we have to do in that regard, but I am just extremely happy with the way the guys battled, they are a very resilient group."

While you debate where this ranks in quality road wins dating back to the Super Bowl years, here is a look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling:

Three up

• TE Charles Clay: With the team’s receivers not doing much, Clay needs to be a big part of the passing game. He was just that against Atlanta, catching five passes for 112 yards. That included a 44-yarder in the second quarter that is the longest of his career with the Bills and set up a touchdown on the next play.

• K Stephen Hauschka: In a performance that should win him the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second straight week, Hauschka was a stud against Atlanta. The ease with which he is drilling 55-yard field goals is really something to watch. Hauschka has quickly earned the trust of the coaching staff, and it's easy to see why with how he's kicking.

• DE Jerry Hughes: He forced the fumble in the third quarter that was recovered and returned by Tre'Davious White for a touchdown, completely swinging the game. The analytics website Pro Football Focus credited Hughes with six total pressures (four hurries, a hit and a sack) on 39 pass-rush attempts.

Three down

• WR Zay Jones: Unfortunately for the rookie, this is becoming a weekly landing spot. Jones had a bad drop in the second quarter after the Bills had taken a 7-3 lead. The pass from Tyrod Taylor was perfect, but Jones dropped it. While he did have a nice catch for an 18-yard gain in the second half, that was his only offensive production on the day. That’s not what the Bills moved up for in the second round of the draft.

• DT Marcell Dareus: Perhaps his ankle injury was still troublesome enough to keep him out of the starting lineup. The alternative is the Bills really felt that Cedric Thornton was a better option. If that’s the case … wow. Dareus failed to record a tackle in playing just 22 snaps. He has one assisted tackle in three games this season. As a reminder, he counts more than $1 million against the salary cap for every game he plays.

• TE Nick O'Leary: He wasn't targeted in the pass game, and PFF charged O'Leary with allowing three quarterback hurries in just four snaps as a pass blocker.

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