Wildcard Observation: McDermott and Josh Take Another Step.

Last time the Bills won a playoff game, I was five months old, Bill Clinton was entering his second year of his first term as president, The most popular car was a Ford F Series Pick Up, and One Sweet Day by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men topped the charts. 

There is so much I could write about what this win means to Bills fans. Especially Bills fans such as myself, who did not live the Super Bowl Years. Millennial Bills fans, who know nothing but drought, misery, and futility. I would be lying if I told you I don’t google the NFL Playoff bracket just to see the Bills in the divisional round of the playoffs. 

But this is not the space or the time for genuflecting. Not yet. There is at least another week left and another Bills win to breakdown. 

Win number 14 was throwback to early season Buffalo Bills football. Even as I write this at 5:47pm on Sunday my heart rate is just returning to normal. Luckily when it’s win or go home, the quality of win doesn’t matter. That doesn’t mean that we can’t break it down.

The Bills Get Outplayed and Win?

  • Let me lay out a game for you and you tell me who you think wins. Team A gets 472  total yards, 309 passing, 163 rushing, gets 27 total first downs, goes 9/17 on third down, does not turn the ball over, and is on offense for 34 minutes. Team B gets 397 total yards, 324 through the air, 96 on the ground, gets 22 first down, goes 2/9 on third down, controls the ball for 26 minutes, and has no turnovers. If you look at history, team A almost ALWAYS wins. Team A was the Colts. And that is not to mention the Colts DOMINATED the field position game. But the Colts did not Saturday. The Colts did everything they needed to do to beat the Bills. They kept River totally clean, kept the Bill to four second half possessions, ran as much as they wanted, and found ways to fluster the offense early on. They played their perfect game. Despite the Colt’s stellar game plan, the Bills capitalized just enough to get the win. Not every playoff game will be pretty, but good teams win even when they don’t play their best. 

Defensive Regression. 

  • Prior to Saturday, the Bills had put together six consecutive weeks of solid defense through the ground and air only to see them return to their  frustrating early season form. Matt Milano was picked on a ton by the tight ends, and River found holes in the zone all day long. The run defense started out relatively strong, getting penetration and containing the dynamic duo in the Colts backfield, only to get gashed with some big runs in the 4th quarter. Every player seemed to have their struggles on the Bills defense. Tre’Davious White had missed tackles, Levi Wallace got beat by Pittman, and the Defensive line could not generate a single pressure. Some of this can be chalked up to the Colts All Pro offensive line and a hall of fame quarterback playing his absolute ass off to extend his career one more week. Regardless, depending Bills cannot afford a repeat performance going forward. 

Daboll Was Fine, Relax. 

  • For the sake of transparency, I will admit I was among the chorus of twitter voices that reigned down judgment on Daboll for the three straight runs in the first half. He also really wanted the QB runs to work, despite evidence showing that they clearly wouldn’t. But Indianapolis may have been the best defense the Bills faced all year. When the Bills only had four second half possessions, they scored on three of them. When they got the ball back under 2 minutes in half and 96 yards to go, he got every single one of those 96 yards. This was not Daboll’s best game, but in going against another future head coach coordinator in Eberflus, he was effective.   

Josh is the Offense. 

  • I have touched on this multiple times through the season but never was it more obvious than today. Of Buffalo’s 397 yards, Josh accounted for 378 of them. That is 95% of the total yards.In the last section of this I critiqued the use of Josh as runner, but there is some room for nuance in this discussion. Part of what makes Josh dangerous is that he can run or pass off script. When used right, Josh’s running game is a weapon. Despite finding success with the QB runs early in the year, Daboll had mostly avoided using them until today.
  •  Over the last couple games Josh has made some just unbelievable throws, rolling left, rolling right, in the pocket, and even falling down. This offense is Josh Allen and is built around him unlike any team in football. He almost had  a 2019-esq mistake in fourth but besides that Josh had another stellar game on a HUGE stage. With a playoff win under his belt, he has seen just about anything a team can throw at him.

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