Grading the Buffalo Bills
RUNNING GAME: B
Quarterback Josh Allen’s rushing totals continue to boggle the mind. He added another 101 yards on the ground, giving him 335 over the past three games. The problem is, it’s not a good thing when a quarterback is the team’s leading rusher for three games in a row. Are the Bills having second thoughts about LeSean McCoy coming back in 2019? In what has been a lost season for him, McCoy gained just 1 yard on two carries before leaving the game with a hamstring injury. Backup Chris Ivory gained 42 yards on 12 carries before leaving with a shoulder injury. Isaiah McKenzie continued to mix in as a runner, scoring on a 15-yard jet sweep.
PASSING GAME: D
The two interceptions thrown by Allen were ugly. The first should absolutely never happen. He has to throw that ball away. The second, which closed out the game, never had a chance, either. Allen had to bail out of the pocket far too frequently, which is on his offensive line. Zay Jones had a killer drop. He finished with just three catches for 22 yards. Undrafted rookie Robert Foster had his second 100-yard receiving game. He’s developing into a really nice player. McKenzie chipped in four catches for 47 yards. Charles Clay had just one catch for 6 yards and had another ball that he probably should have caught go through his hands.
RUN DEFENSE: B+
Solid all day until the end. The Jets finished with just 78 yards on 28 carries, but the Bills couldn’t keep them out of the end zone on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line with a little more than a minute left. Lorenzo Alexander lamented not being able to make that play. Tremaine Edmunds led the defense with eight tackles, one of which went for a loss. Matt Milano had six tackles, including one for a loss, but wasn’t in on the Jets’ touchdown run after getting hurt. That’s a big loss going forward if Milano is out for an extended period.
PASS DEFENSE: C
The pass rush was a huge problem. The Bills failed to record a sack or even a quarterback hit. No. 1 cornerback Tre’Davious White was beaten twice in crucial spots – giving up a 7-yard touchdown catch to Robby Anderson after quarterback Sam Darnold scrambled away from pressure. Anderson then caught a 37-yard bomb from Darnold to get the Jets down to the Bills’ 5-yard line on their go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter. Shaq Lawson batted two balls down at the line of scrimmage and Edmunds made his first career interception.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F
Just an absolute mess. Poor kick coverage handed the Jets 10 points. Stephen Hauschka had a field goal blocked and missed a 54-yard attempt in the fourth quarter. The Bills even took a penalty for illegal formation on the kickoff following a 36-yard field goal by Hauschka that gave the Bills the lead with 2:35 remaining. That’s inexcusable. Coordinator Danny Crossman might soon need to update his resume.
The Bills had to blow a timeout early in the third quarter. That could have come in handy at the end of the game. The amount of hits that Allen continues to take is troubling. After jumping out to a 14-3 lead, the Bills let the Jets hang around with poor special-teams plays, turnovers and penalties. Some of that has to fall on Sean McDermott. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll called a “Philly special,” but it came up empty.
Grading the New York Jets
RUNNING GAME: C-
Elijah McGuire’s 1-yard touchdown run put the Jets ahead. It was New York’s second rushing touchdown, with Trenton Cannon getting the first. Those were the only two bright spots. Starter Isaiah Crowell had 5 yards on two carries before leaving the game with a foot injury. McGuire got the bulk of the work after that, finishing with 17 carries for 60 yards.
PASSING GAME: B-
Darnold’s stats don’t jump off the page – 16 of 24 for 170 yards, one touchdown and one interception – but he made the plays at the end of the game to pull out a win. Both of the big fourth-quarter throws to Anderson were excellent. The offensive line did a great job of protecting. Anderson finished with four catches for 76 yards, while McGuire chipped in three catches for 23 yards.
RUN DEFENSE: D
Like the Jaguars and Dolphins before them, the Jets had no answers for Allen as a runner. “He’s a phenomenal runner,” Jets safety Jamal Adams said of Allen. Jets coach Todd Bowles said his team had defenders assigned specifically to Allen, but the Bills’ quarterback “out-athleticized our guys.” With Darron Lee suspended, Neville Hewitt stepped in. That might be an upgrade for New York. Hewitt had seven tackles.
PASS DEFENSE: A
Big-money cornerback Trumaine Johnson started to play up to his contract, with a pair of interceptions. Adams had a pair of quarterback hits and a fumble recovery. He can do it all. Brandon Copeland, Leonard Williams and Kevin Pierre-Louis joined Adams in having two quarterback hits, part of 10 total. Safety Darryl Roberts had a pass defensed.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-
Kick returner Andre Roberts was a beast. He had returns of 51 and 86 yards in the first half to set up points for New York. That helped him to an average of 35.2 yards on five returns. Roberts did have one slip up when he fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half, leading to a turnover. Punter Lachlan Edwards had a 38.7 net average on three punts. New York’s coverage units were superb – allowing 4 punt-return yards and 101 kick-return yards on five attempts. Kicker Jason Myers hit a pair of field goals. Henry Anderson blocked a field goal.
Bowles is likely coaching out the string in New York. He gets credit for going for it on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line instead of kicking a tying field goal. With New York’s record, that might have looked like an easy decision, but that’s not always the case for NFL coaches. Bowles should have gone for a touchdown on fourth and goal from the Bills’ 3-yard line in the second quarter instead of settling for a 21-yard field goal.
Story topics: Brian Daboll/ Charles Clay/ Chris Ivory/ Danny Crossman/ Isaiah McKenzie/ Josh Allen/ LeSean McCoy/ Matt Milano/ Robert Foster/ Sean McDermott/ Stephen Hauschka/ Tre'davious White/ Tremaine Edmunds/ Zay Jones