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Upon Further Review: Another 7-plus minute drive by offense makes dominant statement

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Bills running back Devin Singletary scored a 51-yard touchdown late in Saturday's big win over the Denver Broncos.

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The Buffalo Bills were all gas, no brakes Saturday.

The troubling trend of letting teams hang around earlier in the season has disappeared the last two weeks. The offense followed up a drive of 7 minutes, 11 seconds that ran out the clock in a win against Pittsburgh in Week 14 with an even longer drive against the Denver Broncos.

The Bills possessed the ball for 7:46 on a single drive – more than half of the fourth quarter  of what ended up being a 48-19 laugher at Empower Field at Mile High.

Even though the 12-play drive stalled at the Denver 9-yard line, leading to a 27-yard field goal by Tyler Bass that gave the Bills a 41-13 advantage, the time run off the clock was a dominant statement.

“That was major,” running back Devin Singletary said. “Early on, you know we had problems with (closing out games). I fell like at practice week after week, we were able to clean it up. It’s just been showing lately. We’ve just got to keep that going. That’s big for us – not letting guys stick around.”

Singletary did his part in that, taking a handoff 51 yards to the house with 1:40 remaining.

“That's one of our favorite run plays that we ran,” he said. “For it to bust out like it did, we can build off of that.”

Thanks largely to that touchdown run, Singletary finished with eight carries for 68 yards. Early in the game, it was apparent that the Bills’ plan was to throw, throw and throw some more – not a big surprise given the Broncos’ injury issues in their secondary. Denver had lost five cornerbacks in recent weeks coming into Week 15.

The Bills attempted eight runs in the first half, compared to 23 passes – a nearly three-to-one run/pass ratio. With the game largely decided in the fourth quarter, the running game took over.

Moss had six carries for 26 yards on the final drive against Pittsburgh, and again was the dominant ball carrier on the late drive against Denver. Moss had four carries for 42 yards to start the drive – including a 26-yard gain that crushed the Broncos’ spirit. After a 23-yard completion from Josh Allen to Cole Beasley converted third-and-3, Moss ran three more times for 13 yards and Singletary ran twice for 4 yards – all when the Broncos knew what was coming.

“It feels good. Every time I come out, I try to leave my best game on film, each and every week,” Moss said. “Thankfully it was a good game like this to help close it out again and get this AFC East championship under our belt. I'm just extremely humbled and blessed to be a part of this team.”

It’s clear by this point in the season that the Bills’ priority offensively is establishing the pass – as it should be with Allen playing at an MVP level. As long as defenses at least respect the threat of a running game – and the running game can help to close out wins like Saturday – the Bills will be getting what they need out of Singletary and Moss.

“You have to have it, whether it's closing games or getting 3 or 4 yards in critical situations, you've got to have it,” head coach Sean McDermott said. “You have to be a balanced team. I was extremely proud of the way the offensive line executed tonight and continue to get better every week. I love that mindset.”

That echoes what McDermott had to say after closing out the win over the Steelers.

“Loved it,” he said last Monday. “Loved it. I don’t care if you’re a pass-first guy or run-first guy, that’s just fun to watch right there. That’s why we practice the way we do.”

By now, the Bills’ plan for their rushing attack is evident. Singletary is used mostly on early downs, while Moss’ physical style is utilized more when the team needs short yardage or is attempting to wear defenses down and drain clock. Moss’ hard-charging style seemed to deflate the Broncos on Saturday.

Other than the game against San Francisco – when he was benched following a fumble near the Buffalo goal line – Moss has become the primary ball carrier. Though Singletary played five more snaps against Denver, Moss had five more carries. 

“Being a rookie and experiencing this for the first time, you can’t really put it into words,” he said.

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