In full disclosure, the author of this article is raving mad Buffalo Bills fan. That said, members of the Bills Mafia ought to be neither impressed nor disappointed following yesterday's 24-17 loss home loss to the Ravens. Heralding the December 8th matchup against Baltimore as a measuring stick game, the 2019-2020 Buffalo Bills can be considered a firmly established "solid Wild Card team." That's what this author has jubilantly declared them since sometime between a Week 4 16-10 loss to the Patriots, and a Week 5 14-7 win over the Titans. Bills fans the world over should be equally jubilant. This has been a very difficult 20 years. This team is solid. This team competes. Enjoy it.
The typically anemic Bills offense was typically anemic. Josh Allen may be miles beyond where he was up to and through that aforementioned Week 4 loss to New England, a span during which he averaged two turnovers a game, but his abilities don't yet belong spoken in the same breath as those of his 2017 draft classmate in Lamar Jackson. Allen missed three deep-ish throws badly, two of which had scoring potential. He continues to have trouble feeling the blindside rush and, marked intra-season improvement aside, twice moved the team out of field goal range by taking bad sacks. While the offensive line did him few favors against an increasingly vicious Baltimore defense, the Bills quarterback had his struggles. That said, who in the hell is #17 supposed to throw the ball to?
Cole Beasley gets a lot of love in the press and from fans because he looks like a small, quick white guy who should always be open. He is two of those four things: small and white. He neither possesses the Welker-like/Edelman-esque first step to create instant separation nor does he display field awareness similar to that of a Welker or Edelman to provide outlets when Allen is under pressure. Equally frustrating for Buffalo fans who are hungry to see the franchises quarterback take his next step is the fact that none of his option in the passing game seem to be able to do the two things that professional receivers need to do: getting open and catch the fucking ball.
John Brown has been so good this season that he might go to the Pro Bowl. The last Bills receiver to go to Hawaii was Eric Moulds (fact check!) in 2002. Smoke and Josh have a legitimate chemistry when everything is going right. Clean snap, time to throw, first option, out route, step, throw, completion, out of bounds, first down. That recipe has been Buffalo's best offensive concoction throughout the year. But remove or alter any one of those ingredients and Bills fans are likely to see any of the following outcomes: incompletion, sack, strip-sack, or interception.
Young Dawson Knox has shown a knack for making pretty spectacular plays, whether utilizing the Madden '05 truck stick or pulling one down with one hand as he did in the fourth quarter against Baltimore; but through 13 professional games he has yet to prove that he can simply body a safety for position or juke a LB to get open 5-10 yards downfield. After surrendering a 61-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Hurst coming out of the locker room, the Bills needed to respond immediately or else risk surrendering the game early in the 3rd. On their first drive of the second half, a second Allen sack-fumble was negated by a questionable personal foul call against Baltimore. Buffalo made good on the favor received from the officiating crew and ripped off consecutive positive plays of 24, and 18, passes to McKensie and Brown, respectively. On 3rd and 8 Allen delivered perhaps his best ball to that point, a missile across his body to an open Knox who dropped what would have been a first down. Fortunately, Steven Hauschka kept a little wind in the Bills' sails by drilling a 48-yarder through the prevailing Ralph Wilson winds.
So, that sums up the Bills offense for the day and, thus far, on the season. Leslie Frazier called another brilliant game for the defense, and the players executed the game plan as well as any Baltimore opponent has. A combination of fantastic efforts (see Lorenzo's pass defense to force a Baltimore punt late in the 4th) and discipline enabled the Bills to limit Lamar Jackson to his lowest total yardage output on the season, 195 yards. Despite one mistake by Jordan Poyer, on the aforementioned 61-yard TD pass to Jayden Hurst, who otherwise played yet another solid game, the vaunted Bills defense stepped up in semi-primetime and proved, once again, that they are capable of stopping anyone in this league.
Buffalo's final drive of the fourth quarter provided a fitting, summarizing conclusion: Allen overthrew Singletary, who, in all honesty, could have made the catch; Allen overthrew Beasley, who also, in all sincerity, should have made the catch; the Bills were bailed out by some penalties but ultimately the Ravens are Super Bowl contender, while the Bills are a Wild Card team. No shade. Just the truth. With 1:08 remaining in a 7-point game, All-Pro S Marcus Peters ran John Brown's route for him and defended a 4th down throw into the end zone to seal the win for Baltimore. Allen's best throw of the game was an incompletion to turn the ball over on downs. And that's how such games ought to go: Super Bowl contender holds off late charge from scrappy Wild Card contender. Bills fans don't need to be impressed, but they shouldn't be disappointed either.