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Report Card

Bills running game clicks, run defense rebounds against Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Here is my Buffalo Bills report card for the 28-14 victory against the New York Giants.

RUNNING GAME: A

Every facet of the running game clicked Sunday. Frank Gore grinded out 68 yards on 19 carries. Devin Singletary was the home-run hitter again, gaining 57 yards on just six carries – an average of 9.5 yards per carry. Only three players in franchise history before Singletary – Thurman Thomas, Marshawn Lynch and Terry Miller – have rushed for at least 57 yards in the first two games of their career. Both Singletary and Gore found the end zone. Gore’s touchdown was the 97th of his career, breaking a tie with Eric Dickerson for the 25th most in league history. He’s three behind Franco Harris and Curtis Martin, who are tied for 23rd with 100 each. Josh Allen used a mix of designed runs and scrambles to add 21 yards to the rushing total, as well as a touchdown. The end result was a fine day – 34 team carries for 151 yards. Credit the offensive line for getting out to clear space on some of those runs. On Allen’s touchdown in the first half, center Mitch Morse and right guard Jon Feliciano got out in front to lead the way. On Singletary’s first career score, it was Morse again and left guard Quinton Spain opening up room. Even fullback Patrick DiMarco got into the act. With the Bills backed up on their 2-yard line, DiMarco gained 1 yard on what was just the fifth NFL carry of his career.

PASSING GAME: A-

Don’t look now, but Josh Allen has completed 64.2% of his passes through two weeks. He finished 19 of 30 for 253 yards and one touchdown, for a quarterback rating of 101.1. While his accuracy wasn’t always pinpoint, he put up solid numbers in the face of some heavy pressure. The Giants sacked Allen three times and flushed him from the pocket on several other occasions as the Bills’ offensive line was overwhelmed at times. Allen spread the wealth, completing passes to eight receivers. Isaiah McKenzie had a career-best 26-yard catch that would have gone for more had he not lost his balance and fell after making the catch. McKenzie also scored on a 14-yard completion on a quick forward pass from Allen that resembled a jet sweep. Allen’s most popular target again was Brown, who caught seven of his eight targets for 72 yards. The only incompletion intended for Brown was a bad overthrow by Allen on a deep ball that should have gone for a touchdown. Receiver Robert Foster went without a catch for the second consecutive game.

RUN DEFENSE: B-

This started as a big, fat "F" and progressed from there. After giving up 75 yards on five plays to start the game, the Bills allowed just 54 yards the rest of the game. If ever a team could “limit” an opposing running back to 107 yards, that’s what the Bills did with Giants star Saquon Barkley. He had 55 of those yards on the opening possession, including a 27-yard touchdown, but did not hurt the Bills much after that drive. Linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds made seven tackles each. Slot cornerback Siran Neal made a tackle for loss – he was physical in run support. The run defense got hurt on a jet sweep by Bennie Fowler that went for 20 yards. You can count on opposing teams watching the film of the Giants’ first possession to see what worked against the Bills’ defense.

PASS DEFENSE: A-

The pass rush wasn’t quite as fierce as it was in Week 1, with the defense registering just one sack of Eli Manning. That was split between Lorenzo Alexander and Harrison Phillips – the first of his career. That doesn’t mean it was a bad day for the pass defense, though. Defensive linemen again got their hands up into passing lanes, which led to several batted balls. One of those by Ed Oliver was caught by defensive end Trent Murphy for his first career interception. Safety Jordan Poyer also recorded an interception, beautifully tracking an overthrown deep ball by Manning. The Bills had nine passes defensed as a team. Through two games, the team has 17 passes defensed, which ranks tied for second in the NFL through the conclusion of the early games in Week 2. Tre'Davious White and Levi Wallace shared the team lead with eight tackles each. That’s generally not a good sign for cornerbacks, because it means completions are happening around them. Rookie Darryl Johnson Jr. had his first quarterback hit.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-

Punter Corey Bojorquez’s net average was dragged down after the coverage unit gave up a 60-yard return to the Giants’ T.J. Jones. Bojorquez boomed a 63-yard punt in the second quarter, but outkicked his coverage, which led to Jones’ long return. Just one of Bojorquez’s seven punts was downed inside the 20-yard line. He finished with a 35.7-yard net average on seven attempts. The kick coverage was solid, giving up just 40 yards on two attempts. Neal led the way on special teams with three tackles, while Alexander added two. Stephen Hauschka likes kicking in MetLife Stadium. He’s now a perfect 12 for 12 on field goals and 25 for 25 extra points in the home of the Jets and Giants.

COACHING: A

Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll called a beautiful first half. The Bills had receivers open all over the field. One concern offensively is the amount of penalties up front. Eight of nine accepted penalties against the Bills were on offensive linemen or tight ends. A lot of that falls on the players, of course, but it’s definitely an area the coaching staff will want to see improve moving forward. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier made the necessary adjustments after the Giants’ first drive. The results on Frazier’s side of the ball through two weeks are impressive. Coach Sean McDermott once again made good use of his timeouts and made the right calls on potentially challenging any plays by keeping the red flag in his pocket. The home opener should be jumping next week at New Era Field. The challenge for McDermott will be making sure his team is 100% focused on the Cincinnati Bengals and not looking ahead to the Week 4 matchup with New England.

Bills' defense rights itself after shaky start against Giants

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