Tyrod Taylor enjoyed his fifth best yards-producing game in 35 starts as the Buffalo Bills' quarterback in Sunday's win over Tampa Bay.
Taylor combined for 321 yards – 268 passing and 53 rushing. Taylor again showed his ability to make throws on the move. And he burned the Tampa defense with scrambles against man-to-man coverage.
Opposing defenses may want to be judicious in their use of man coverage after watching the Bucs video. On first-half scrambles that went for 26 and 16 yards, Tampa's man coverage defenders had their backs to the line of scrimmage when Taylor took off and ran.
Linebacker Kwon Alexander was spying on Taylor on the first one, but Taylor stepped out of his tackle attempt. The big gainer led to a field goal. On the 16-yarder, Taylor eluded the grasp of Robert Ayers at the line of scrimmage to help set up the Bills' first touchdown.
"If they're going to play man, or two-man, and have everybody in man coverage and no one spying him at all, that's an asset he carries," said Bills center Eric Wood. "Even one guy, he can usually run away from. They have to respect him."
Here's our unit-by-unit grading of the Bills' win based on video review (on a scale of 1 to 5):
Quarterback (4.0): It was hard to find much fault with Taylor. Sure, you'd rather have Jameis Winston, and the Bucs' QB out-yardaged him by 63 (384-321). But Winston has two Pro Bowl weapons in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson.
Taylor made two great throws to Deonte Thompson. The first, a 27-yarder, was one of Taylor's best anticipation passes of the season. He hung in the pocket and lofting the pass on an over route. He took a big blow from Kendell Beckwith on the play, too. On the 44-yarder to Thompson late, Taylor made a nifty step-up in the pocket. That was the kind of late-in-the-down throw from the pocket you love to see. On the lone sack, Taylor failed to pull the trigger to an open Zay Jones on a hitch route. But Taylor's TD pass to Logan Thomas was perfect. He also danced for 5.2 seconds on the 32-yard flat-pass to Nick O'Leary. Most QBs get sacked on that play.
Offensive line (4.0): Welcome back, Cordy Glenn. The Bills' left tackle, out the past three games, had a perfect day in pass protection. Although he wasn't going against elite competition, he was solo-blocking the whole game. But neither of the Bucs' top edge rushers, Noah Spence or Ayers, got a sniff of Taylor vs. No. 77. Dion Dawkins had two bad downs on a series spelling Glenn. But Dawkins did make a nice cut block on Alexander to spring a toss sweep. The Bills double-teamed elite defensive tackle Gerald McCoy a ton, including on the 44-yard pass play. Wood had a good day. He blocked up Alexander on McCoy's final TD run.
Receivers (3.5): The Bills had 10 third-down conversions in 16 attempts. The ball went to eight different players on those conversions. You could call that spreading it around. Or you could call it doing it with mirrors. Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison deserved a game ball. The Bills' wideouts had their best day, combining for 10 catches for 145 yards. Thompson, who played 21 snaps, had 107 yards. Zay Jones had two drops (one might be viewed as a partial break-up). But he did make two catches. The Bills need to stay patient with him. Back-up tight ends O'Leary and Logan Thomas continue to impress with their good hands. O'Leary gave up a sack in pass protection but he made a good block on William Gholston on a 15-yar strong-side run. Thomas smacked Lavonte David on they critical shovel-pass play.
Running back (3.5): The third-down conversions helped McCoy get 28 touches. That's ideal. Shady ran decisively. Taiwan Jones made Ayers miss at the line of scrimmage on his key, 11-yard shovel-pass play. Fullback Patrick DiMarco knocked Ayers on his butt on McCoy's 1-yard TD run.
Defensive line (3.0): Jerry Hughes had no sacks but he plays with the kind of effort on every play that Mario Williams rarely showed. Marcell Dareus played 41 snaps, his most of the season. He got double-teamed a bunch but made five tackles, including two stuffs. It was a step forward for him. Ryan Davis, aided by a double-A-gap blitz of the linebackers, made a strip-sack of Winston. He earned his 22 snaps.
Linebackers (3.0): Preston Brown had 11 tackles, including four stand-out stops, two hurries and no missed tackles. The Bucs exploited him in Cover 3 a couple times on throws to Doug Martin in the flat. That was as much good game-planning as it was Brown's fault. Lorenzo Alexander got fooled by play-action on the 33-yard TD pass to O.J. Howard. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter knows how to scheme. The Bills blitzed only 10 times in 45 drop-backs. They were determined not to give up the big play to the star receivers.
Defensive backs (3.5): Yes, the Bills gave up 384 passing yards to Winston. But they did not let the wideouts (Evans and Jackson) beat them. Evans made a great catch to beat Tre'Davious White for the late TD. Of course, White made up for it with his strip of Adam Humphries.
Jordan Poyer saved a touchdown when he diagnosed a seam pass for Winston's favorite red-zone target, Cam Brace, and made a breakup in the first quarter. That was as big as White's strip.
"They motioned to get us into our second coverage," Poyer said. "We had been working on the stick route all week, so I kind of expected it to come and I was able to make a play on it."
Special teams (4.0): Yes, Stephen Hauschka missed from 41, but his 52-yarder was huge. Colton Schmidt had a 55-yard punt with a 4.5-second hang time spot on the sideline. Nice.
Bills stars of the game: 1. Tyrod Taylor. 2. Deonte Thompson. 3. Cordy Glenn.