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COMMENTARY

Devin Singletary saves rushing grade; pass defense enjoys strong day in win

Jay Skurski

Grading the Buffalo Bills in their 24-9 win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday at New Era Field …

RUNNING GAME: C-

Devin Singletary keeps it from being an F, but this was not a good day on the ground. How many times can a team make gaining a single yard look like the hardest thing to do in football? The Bills continue to count the ways.

Singletary rushed 20 times for 95 yards and showed without a doubt that it’s time for him to become this team’s featured back. Veteran Frank Gore carried 11 times but managed just 15 yards. One of those runs went for 6 yards, too, meaning Gore’s 10 other carries produced 9 yards. Watching him get stuffed over … and over … and over again on the goal line drives home the need for Singletary to take on more of a role.

Quarterback Josh Allen managed just 12 yards on eight carries, though he did score a 1-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal. Allen put the ball on the ground twice, fumbling for the 10th time this season, although the Bills recovered both.

Gore didn’t have a great game, but the offensive line should take some of the blame, too. On a third-and-1 carry in the second half, Gore was hit the second he touched the ball.

Singletary averaged 4.8 yards on 20 carries, producing 95 much-needed yards. It was good to see him rewarded with a touchdown in the fourth quarter – he was the Bills’ best offensive player Sunday.

PASSING GAME: B-

For the second time in four games, Allen completed 70% of his passes. He finished 14 of 20 for 160 yards and one touchdown – a passer rating of 110.4. That’s the fourth-best passer rating of his career, and trails only his 111.4 rating in the Week 5 win over the Titans this season.

John Brown was once again Allen’s favorite target, catching four passes (on seven targets) for 76 yards. After Brown dropped what would have been a big gain in the fourth quarter, he came back two plays later to make the biggest catch of the game – a 27-yarder that converted third-and-18 from the Redskins’ 37-yard line. On the play, Allen sucked the defense in by faking the run, then delivered a perfect throw down the right sideline.

Brown joined Andre Reed as the only receivers in Bills history to have at least four catches and 50 yards in eight consecutive games. That’s pretty good company.

Slot receiver Cole Beasley had a touchdown for the third straight game, but he had just one other catch and one other target and finished with 13 yards. Don’t look now, but the Bills even ran a screen play, which Singletary took for a 49-yard gain.

Once again, Allen failed to connect with Robert Foster on a deep ball. Amazingly, Foster does not have a catch this season. Allen was sacked twice.

RUN DEFENSE: C

The average of an "F" and an "A." After giving up an embarrassing 109 yards on the ground in the first half – 101 of them to future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson – the Bills gave up just 18 yards on the ground after halftime. Micah Hyde and Trent Murphy combined to stop Peterson for no gain on Washington’s first offensive play of the second half, and the run defense was strong the rest of the way.

Peterson’s next two carries went for a loss of 3 yards by Matt Milano and no gain, with Shaq Lawson and Tremaine Edmunds teaming up to make the stop. After a 4-yard gain, Peterson was stopped again for no gain on his next carry in the second half, this time by Jordan Phillips.

Cornerback Levi Wallace got bowled over by Peterson in a play that will make plenty of highlight films. That was one of several embarrassing moments in the first half against Peterson.

PASS DEFENSE: A

It needed to be a good day for the Bills’ secondary, going up against a quarterback making his first career start. It was, as Dwayne Haskins was limited to 144 passing yards and was sacked four times. The longest completion for Haskins was 22 yards on a screen pass to Peterson.

Tight end Jeremy Sprinkle had a 16-yard catch for Washington, but that came in garbage time, as did a 13-yard completion to rookie receiver Terry McLaurin. That meant the longest pass to any Redskins receiver of any real significance was a 13-yard completion to Paul Richardson in the third quarter.

Tre’Davious White got his first career sack with a perfectly timed cornerback blitz in the second half. White and the Bills limited McLaurin to just four catches for 39 yards.

The Bills had just two passes defensed, one each by Taron Johnson and Lorenzo Alexander.

Trent Murphy got his first sack of the season, showing good athleticism in chasing Haskins to the sideline and preventing him from turning the corner. Jerry Hughes also had his first sack since Week 1.

The Bills have now held opponents to one or fewer passing touchdowns in 12 consecutive games, tying a franchise record set twice, most recently in 2009.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

Andre Roberts’ 66-yard kick return in the second half provided a spark. Fullback Patrick DiMarco also had a solid 24-yard return to open the second half, setting the offense up at their own 36-yard line. Stephen Hauschka made a 42-yard field goal late in the first quarter and converted all three extra points. On another tough wind day at New Era Field, those were all big kicks.

Speaking of the wind, Corey Bojorquez had a woeful 15-yard punt into it in the third quarter. His net average was boosted in the fourth quarter when he had a 59-yard punt going the other way. Roberts did not return any punts, making three fair catches. Based on the wind, though, that qualified as a good job.

The kickoff coverage was solid, allowing an average of 18.7 yards on three Washington returns.

COACHING: B

Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll again took a bunch of heat on social media. The Bills’ inability to gain a yard when they need it is maddening. Faced with first and goal at the Washington 2-yard line in the first quarter, he called an Allen pass that ended with a 6-yard sack. Next was a shovel pass to Isaiah McKenzie that was stopped for an 8-yard loss.

In the second quarter, Daboll called three consecutive Gore runs from the 1-yard line, all of which were stopped. Basically, the offensive coordinator can’t win. Those short-yardage situations have to get figured out.

Sean McDermott wasted a timeout in the second quarter debating whether to challenge that Dawson Knox got the ball over the goal line before those Gore runs. It’s likely he wouldn’t have won the challenge, but with the play clock winding down and it becoming apparent he was going to have to take a timeout, he should have thrown the flag anyway.

The defense made the necessary corrections in the second half, so defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier deserves some credit.

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