The Buffalo Bills’ offense efficiently attacked the New York Giants’ defensive weaknesses in Sunday’s victory at MetLife Stadium.
The Giants had three defensive concerns entering the game:
• Their No. 2 cornerback opposite veteran Janoris Jenkins was struggling. Rookie DeAndre Baker had a rough opening game in Dallas and was making his first pro start against the Bills.
• Their young linebackers were susceptible to play-action fakes and misdirection.
• Their lack of quality edge rushers was likely to force them to rely on the blitz to get pressure on Josh Allen.
How did the Bills do in exploiting those matchups? Call it a 3-for-3 success.
Allen targeted Baker seven times and completed five passes for 112 yards, along with drawing a defensive penalty for 9 yards, according to Buffalo News charts.
Dallas killed the Giants on play-action fakes in the team's 35-17 Week 1 victory.
The Bills hit the Giants for 89 yards on nine play-action plays. Allen was 6 of 8 for 84 yards on play-action passes.
On plays when the Bills kept extra men in to block, Allen hit 7 of 11 passes for 96 yards, according to News charts.
Baker, the 30th pick in April’s NFL draft, was fooled on the 26-yard crossing-route pass to Isaiah McKenzie. The rookie bit on the fake sweep and didn’t get deep enough in his zone. Baker then was targeted on completions of 12 and 14 yards on the Bills’ second TD drive. On the third TD drive, Baker didn’t stick to his deep third of the field. He headed toward the middle to guard Dawson Knox and left Cole Beasley wide open on an out-and-up pattern for 51 yards.
“He’s a rookie corner, and he’s learning how to play the game at this level,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “I think he keeps challenging and he’ll keep getting better, because he has the skill and the ability to do it.”
At linebacker, Ryan Connelly was making his first NFL start, and rookie edge defender Oshane Ximines saw significant action. Both had trouble against the jet sweeps and fake jet sweeps the Bills ran.
The 26-yard pass to McKenzie came on a play-action fake, and Allen drew in the linebackers with a run fake on a sharp, 14-yard slant to Zay Jones on the 98-yard TD drive.
Jenkins, the Giants’ eight-year veteran and a 2016 Pro Bowler, was mad about all the time Allen had to throw.
“Who can cover somebody for 10 seconds?” Jenkins lamented. “If we give any quarterback 5, 8 seconds in the pocket, he’s going to find open receivers.”
Part of Allen’s time was by design, however. John Brown caught a 15-yard pass on a deep-comeback route vs. Jenkins in the third quarter. The Giants blitzed, but the Bills kept eight men in for maximum protection. On the Bills’ fourth-quarter TD drive, Allen beat another blitz for a 12-yard pass to Brown against Jenkins – with the help of a seven-man protection.
And then there was the key catch by Brown against Jenkins, a 17-yarder that set up the insurance TD. That was all Allen. It was a five-man protection, but Allen bought time by scrambling to the sideline and making a great throw. It took him 4.95 seconds to release the ball.
Not 10 seconds, but too much for anyone covering Brown.
The Giants blitzed on 16 of 37 drop-backs (counting two penalty plays), or 42 percent. The Jets blitzed 30 percent in Week 1. Allen was 7 of 12 for 78 yards with two sacks against the blitz.