The Buffalo Bills kept their divisional champion hopes alive with a 29-15 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Buffalo’s victory keeps the Bills (10-6) ahead of the New England Patriots in the AFC standings. The divisional tiebreaker is held by the Bills. With the win, Buffalo also secured a playoff berth .
Buffalo’s performance (7-9) against Atlanta was uneven to say the least. The game began in an unfavorable way for the Bills. After the Falcons’ opening drive, Buffalo lost a safety on special team.
Returner Marquez Stevenson misplaced a punt return. Buffalo recovered the ball from the end zone after a scramble. Atlanta took a 2-0 lead in the first quarter.
Buffalo responded with two touchdowns on their next two drives. Because the Bills’ aerial attack was inconsistent, quarterback Josh Allen took the ball and ran for the touchdowns. With the Bills up, 14-2, by the conclusion of the first quarter, it seemed Buffalo would be moving easily throughout the game.
Instead of that, the Bills offense had trouble keeping the ball in its hands and prolonging drives. Allen threw two interceptions during the first half. Atlanta scored 10 points off of the turnovers and entered halftime with an improbable 15-14 lead.
For most of the season, many wondered whether Buffalo’s running game could support an offensive attack that was not led by the aerial game. The Bills’ running attack proved they were capable of carrying the load. After Allen’s third interception, on the first drive of the second quarter. Brian Daboll, offensive coordinator, put emphasis on the ground.
Running back Devin Singletary pounded out 110 rushing yards on 23 carries. In the second half, he added two touchdowns. Zack Moss ran five times the ball for 39 yards. Moss was able to see the most of his game action in the final quarter as the Bills slowed down the clock in the fourth quarter. This secured the win.
Allen, for his part, was effective on the ground, rushing 12 times (before kneel-downs) for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
It was a relief to see the running game function efficiently with the passing attack sputtering. Allen was 11-for-26 with 120 passing yards and three interceptions. The run game was dominant and racked up 233 running yards.
Buffalo won the battle in trenches. The unit was able to allow only one sack, in addition to its stellar run blocking. It was interesting that the sack came when Stefon Diggs, wide receiver, attempted to pass on a flea flicker.
Buffalo had a strong defense, putting the greatest pressure on their quarterback this season. Five sacks were recorded by the Bills, including defenders Taron John, Greg Rousseau and Mario Addison.
The defense contained the explosive Corderelle Patterson who was the Falcons’ back-wide receiver and do-it-all running back. Patterson, the best option for Atlanta, gained 28 yards on nine rushes. He caught two passes for 24 yards. Outstanding tight end Kyle Pitts caught 2 passes for 69 yards.
Matt Ryan was 13-of-23 with 197 passing yards. Ryan thought he had scored late in the game when he ran for a touchdown. The touchdown was not scored because Ryan was too far from the goal line.
To make matters worse, the veteran quarterback. Ryan was teasing. The defense of Buffalo defended Ryan’s fourth-down toss up, and the Bills won the game.
While Buffalo’s defense was strong, it was the offense who needed to make some changes in order to take control of the game.
Buffalo offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll tried a few trick plays but both failed. The pass to Dion Dawkins, offensive lineman, failed in the red zone. Diggs was the thrower and the flea flicker didn’t materialize. Daboll placed the ball on the ground after the problems in the passing game. It worked well.
Buffalo closes their season against the New York Jets (4-12) next Sunday at Hallmark Stadium.
A win will give the Bills their 2nd consecutive division title, and it will place Buffalo at the 4th spot in the AFC standings going into the playoffs.