Early in the game, the Buffalo Bills looked like a team that hardly practiced this week.
On Wednesday, Buffalo had multiple players out due to illness so the team had to do a walk through. After a normal practice on Thursday, Buffalo held their Friday practice virtually due to being unable to get to the team facility after a massive snowstorm. With a lack of practice, Buffalo came out slow on offense and defense.
After falling behind 10-3, Buffalo started to show some signs of life. A fumble by Jacoby Brissett allowed Buffalo to close the gap on Cleveland’s lead to four. Then the Bills double-dipped with a touchdown before halftime and a field goal to open the third quarter. A turnover on downs later and Buffalo found the end zone again to go up 22-10. Buffalo would score 25 unanswered points and go on to a 31-23 win.
Following their seventh win of the season, here is how Buffalo graded out.
Does Josh Allen need to get hit to turn things around?
Allen seemed to come to life after getting hit out of bounds on his injured arm by Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The play did not draw a flag, but Allen seemed to wake up from that point.
After a slow start where Allen struggled to find his receivers, he finished a respectable 18-of-27 (66.7 completion percentage) for 197 yards and one touchdown. He was quiet with his legs on Sunday with just five yards on three carries.
Allen was smart with the football and did not have to play hero ball. Buffalo would have liked a few more touchdowns on Sunday, but Allen did enough to win.
RUNNING BACK/FULLBACK: A
James Cook had a career day and Devin Singletary was solid as usual for Buffalo.
Cook ripped off a 29-yard run in the victory while finishing with an 11-86 stat line. Singletary added a touchdown on the ground while averaging 4.8 yards per carry and finishing with 86 yards of his own.
Cook and Singletary were excellent on the ground. They both had a few tough runs in the victory and finished with 172 rushing yards.
Reggie Gilliam had a crucial holding call against him and seemed to miss a few blocks in the win. Overall, this unit was excellent against the Browns.
WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END: B-
Dawson Knox was the star of the pass-catchers for the Bills. Knox hauled in all seven of his targets for 70 yards. This was the type of performance that Bills fans have been waiting for following his breakout season last year.
Stefon Diggs quietly posted a 4-48-1 stat line in the win. He ran a great route to get wide open for the team’s only passing touchdown. Diggs seemed frustrated early, but he made the most of his opportunities.
Gabe Davis had a big drop early in the game that he absolutely should have had, but he later added a few key receptions. Davis finished with 68 yards on five receptions.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B
Buffalo’s offensive line got off to a slow start. Missed blocks and penalties took their toll on the offense early. The unit did better as the game progressed, however. Singletary and Cook both had some solid rushing lanes at times and Josh Allen had time to go through his progressions on pass plays.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A-
Buffalo’s defensive line did not sack Jacoby Brissett once. They did have four quarterback hits and multiple pressures, but the unit deserves a lot of praise for their run defense.
Nick Chubb is the NFL’s best rusher but you wouldn’t have known it on Sunday. Chubb was held to just 19 yards on 14 carries (1.9 YPC). Chubb’s longest run went for 12 yards on Sunday. For the remainder of the game, he had just seven yards rushing on 13 carries. It was an outstanding job by the front seven with the defensive line accounting for four tackles for loss.
Kareem Hunt added 32 yards on the ground in the loss.
Matt Milano came to play. Milano was all over the field in Buffalo’s win. He had three tackles for loss including Buffalo’s lone sack and finished with 12 total tackles. Tyrel Dodson added 13 total tackles in the victory and had a perfectly timed blitz that led to a throwaway on third down as well.
Buffalo misses Tremaine Edmunds, but the linebacker unit was strong on Sunday.
Welcome back, Jordan Poyer. Buffalo’s starting safety returned and the Bills moved to 6-0 with Poyer in the lineup. He whiffled on one tackle by a hurdling David Njoku, but his play was outstanding overall. He finished with five tackles, one QB hit and a one pass defensed. Damar Hamlin had a ticky tack pass interference penalty called against him and finished with four tackles and one pass defensed.
The cornerbacks, however, really struggled on Sunday and brought the unit’s grade down. Jacoby Brissett is among the worst QBs in the NFL and the team allowed him to complete 28-of-41 pass attempts for 324 yards and three touchdowns. That’s concerning to say the least. Buffalo’s cornerbacks need to work on turning their heads around and breaking up passes when they have tight coverage. Overall, it was a day to forget for the cornerbacks.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A+
Tyler Bass in a dome? Forget about it. Buffalo’s kicker was perfect in the Bills’ win and looked like he could have made 60-plus yard field goals with ease.
Bass finished with six field goals with a long of 56-yards and was 1-of-1 on extra points. Bass is deserving of the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award.
Nyheim Hines was excellent as Buffalo’s return man. He accounted for 76 yards on three kick returns (25,3 YPR) and added 37 yards on two punt returns. He helped flip the field a few times in the win.
Sam Martin was terrific on punts as well. He averaged 49.5 yards on his two punts with one pinning the Browns inside the 20 yard line.