Sean McDermott Explains Lack of Running Game in 1st Half of Playoff Victory

Sean McDermott

Getty Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott looks out over the field during the fourth quarter of their AFC playoff matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.

Throughout the first half of their 17-3 playoff victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Buffalo Bills relied heavily on the pass, like they have all season long.

But as the winds were whipping and the Ravens were dropping back into the secondary, the Bills continued to stick to their passing attack, despite the lack of success. Outside of a quarterback scramble by Josh Allen with 13 minutes, 56 seconds left in the second quarter, the Bills didn’t record their first designed running play until there was 3:07 left in the first half.

That run by running back Devin Singletary, which resulted in just a 3-yard gain, was the only Bills running play of the first half compared to Allen’s 23 passing attempts.

With the way Baltimore’s defense has played this season – they limited Derrick Henry, who led the NFL in rushing yards this season, to just 40 yards last week – the Bills just stuck to their strengths. But, McDermott did reveal that they got away from their gameplan a little too much.

“It got away from us there in the first half and we had some plays that we didn’t execute well,” McDermott said during his post-game video conference call. “We just got out of bounds way too much there. I think overall we expected to run the ball a little more than we did, but like I said I think it got away from us a little bit. But, they are a good stout front. Big, long upfront and I thought we did come out there in the second half and establish some rhythm there.”

In their first drive of the second half, Singletary carried the ball three times for 20 yards as the Bills marched down the field for an 11-play, 66-yard drive. Allen capped it off with a screen pass to Stefon Diggs on the left sideline for a 3-yard touchdown.

The Bills stuck with the run throughout the second half and tallied 12 more runs between Allen, Singletary, and T.J. Yeldon, but they only tallied 32 total rushing yards compared to Allen’s 206 passing yards.

“The coaches did a great job at halftime of making adjustments and we needed to get into a rhythm after the half,” McDermott said. “We did that and I thought that was a big drive for us. They had scored before the half and if we don’t score they get the ball back and have a chance to double-dip.”

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Singletary Stepped Up Big In Increased Role

It wasn’t the type of increased workload that some expected Singletary to get after rookie running back Zack Moss suffered an injury last week against the Indianapolis Colts, but Singletary filled it seamlessly despite only garnering seven carries for 25 yards.

He played big throughout the game and also caught all three of his targets for 12 yards. The first drive of the second half was one of the most important drives of the game though and Singletary provided a spark for the Bills offense to get into the endzone.

There was a lot of conversation swirling around the running game heading into Saturday’s matchup, but McDermott had spoken about his confidence in Singletary leading into the game and the second-year back rose to the occasion.

John Brown and Cole Beasley Switch Roles

When the Bills took on the Colts last week in the Wild Card round of the AFC playoffs, Beasley gutted out a seven-catch, 57-yard performance and gave the Bills an important performance. On the opposite end, Brown didn’t tally a catch in Buffalo’s 27-24 victory.

But, when the Bills took the field on Saturday, it seemed like the roles were reversed in a way. Beasley was targeted twice but didn’t record a catch and Brown caught eight passes for 62 yards and averaged 7.8 yards per catch. Many of Brown’s catches came right on the sideline and kept long drives alive for the Bills.


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