Bills Browns score summary: Five things we learned from Buffalo’s 31-23 victory

The Buffalo Bills defeated the Cleveland Browns 31-23 at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday. In doing so, they avoided their first three-game losing streak since 2018 and moved to 7-3 to climb back into a tie for first place in the AFC East with the Miami Dolphins (who, yes, are currently the head-to- main tiebreak). Buffalo has a quick turnaround for the Week 12 game as they fly home for a few days and then head straight back to Detroit on Wednesday for a Thanksgiving Day showdown with the Detroit Lions.

Buffalo endure some mid-season problems, which is a lot easier to handle if they can win at that. Here are five things we learned from Buffalo’s big win to cap off a crazy week.

Bills ran and stopped the flight

Going into this matchup, Buffalo’s run defense was a bit on their heels; after giving up a combined 382 rushing yards in Weeks 8-9 to the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets, they mostly contained the Minnesota Vikings’ run game last weekend — that is, until an 81-yard touchdown run of Dalvin Cook completely changed the momentum of the game. Cleveland has one of the NFL’s best running back duos in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, so naturally Bills fans were concerned about that matchup.

Chubb finished with 19 rushing yards on 14 carries. As a team, the Browns ran 80 yards on 26 carries (3.1 yards per rush). Buffalo executed a high-quality fast attack and prevented the big play on the ground this week, and it made a huge difference in the outcome of the game.

On the other side of the field, the Bills were finally able to run the ball with their own running backs. Buffalo has run at least 100 yards in every game this season, but quarterback Josh Allen has had to do much of that work himself. In this game, Devin Singletary (18 carries, 86 yards, and a touchdown) and James Cook (11 carries, 86 yards) led the Bills to a 171-yard rushing effort. Their ability to control the ball on the ground masked further second-half shortcomings in getting rid of this play.

Buffalo plays ball without ball

A much-debated point in recent weeks had been the Bills’ inability to wrap up on the revenue front; in their past 10 quarters, they had turned the ball over eight times, coming back to bite them into two losses by a total of six points.

There were some close calls to be sure, but in the end, an obviously struggling Allen (more on that later) was able to play a clean game, and the Bills didn’t care about football in this game. The only turnover in the game was by Cleveland, who found a center quarterback exchange clunky in the second quarter, recovered by linebacker Matt Milano. The wrap battle wasn’t necessarily central to the outcome of this game – although a fourth down stop by Buffalo’s defense and a blocked field goal attempt by defensive tackle DaQuan Jones could change that discussion a bit – but the Bills didn’t beat themselves. this week, and it made a big difference.

Josh Allen is currently grinding

Allen wasn’t the only Bills player to struggle massively during the first half—after all, the team only had one full team workout this week—but as is always the case with star quarterbacks, his struggles were more pronounced. Allen struggled with his accuracy early in this game as Buffalo’s offense sputtered. Even as he found his groove late in the second quarter and helped the Bills score 25 unanswered runs as they built a 28-10 lead, he clearly wasn’t his alien self from earlier in the season. At the end of the day, Allen completed 18 of 27 passes for 197 yards, with one touchdown, the aforementioned no turnovers, and a quarterback rating of 100.4.

Like the team in general, Allen is currently working on a number of things. His lack of practice time may affect him as he has had a limited throw all week while tending to the sprained elbow he suffered in Week 8. He doesn’t see the field as clearly as before. It’s not all up to him; it took offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey way too long to find his running game in this game, which sparked the offense, and Buffalo’s receivers dropped some key passes along the way.

Allen has always found his way through tough times, but even in victory, he’s not out of the woods.

Bills’ pass defense struggles again

Over the past two weeks, Minnesota and Cleveland have adopted a “chuck-it-up” strategy against Buffalo’s young and inexperienced cornerbacks, and it’s paying off. While their coverage has been pretty good, the Bills’ defensive backs — ranging from cornerbacks Dane Jackson and Christian Benford to safety Damar Hamlin, mainly, though they’re not the only culprits — have lost more than their fair share of 50-50 balls. . Justin Jefferson posted the secondary in Week 10, and Cleveland continued that trend this week.

Jacoby Brissett finished this game by making 28 of 41 passes for 324 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 116.3. He was sacked only once – by Milano, who had an outstanding day (11 tackles, 7 solo, three tackles for a loss and that sack) – but the bigger story was Buffalo’s inability to play once the ball was in the air.

Under head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier, Buffalo’s pass defense had not allowed back-to-back 300-yard passing attempts in a season since weeks 2-3 in 2020. It’s now twice this year happened—in Weeks 5-6, and now Weeks 10-11—and it feels like that streak could extend if the team is unable to overcome the tendency to forgo contested catches, avoid penalties, and perhaps most importantly, get linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and cornerback Tre’Davious White back onto the field. The latter does not seem imminent with a four-day working week on the way.

Flying James Cook over Nyheim Hines is the way to go

Buffalo’s trade for running back Nyheim Hines on NFL trade deadline looks more confusing by the week; without the quick counts to hand, Hines felt a little more involved this week, but still only saw one goal pass (an incompletion) and lost eight yards on his only carry.

Meanwhile, it was rookie second round pick James Cook who sparked Buffalo’s offense in the second and third quarters. He looked outstanding wearing 86 yards 11 times, bucking a recent trend of looking like he was ready to give Buffalo’s ailing running game some much-needed juice. He still didn’t play much—ESPN’s Mike Clay had played him on 16 snaps (25.8% of the total) – but Cook clearly made the most of his chances on a day when the Bills needed him.

Right now, Buffalo rightly prioritizes Cook’s offensive involvement over Hines’, and this is the right call from every angle imaginable. Hines may end up becoming a seasonal loanee as his contract will become significantly more expensive after this season. Singletary is also in a contract year. Cook is the only one back on the roster under team control for the foreseeable future. He is clearly talented and is playing an increasing role in attack. Not only does he play well, but the Bills need to know exactly what they’ve got in him. It’s likely we’ll continue to see him involved before Hines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *