‘It Was Certainly Up There’: Bills Defense Turns in Solid Performance Against Unique Offense

Tremaine Edmunds

Getty Buffalo Bills middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds

For the first three years of Sean McDermott’s tenure in Buffalo, the Bills were one of the best defensive teams in the league as they looked to control the clock with the run and limit teams as much as possible with their defense.

But, at the beginning of this season, Buffalo’s philosophy flipped. The Josh Allen led offense tore teams apart by spreading the ball around and attacking teams through the air. Then, at least through the early part of the season, it seemed like the defense was trying to catch up to the production of the offense.

As the season went on though, the defense started to play to the level that they have the past three seasons and Saturday’s performance against the Baltimore Ravens might’ve been a sign of what they are truly capable of.

They limited former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson to 34 yards rushing, 162 yards passing and sacked him three times. Nickel cornerback Taron Johnson also turned in one of the biggest plays of his career when he picked off Jackson on the goal line and returned it 101-yards for the touchdown to put Buffalo up 17-3. It was also Jackson’s first interception in the redzone in his NFL career.

McDermott said the effort from the entire defense might’ve been one of the best defensive performances of the season.

“It was certainly up there,” McDermott said in his post-game video conference call. “To hold a team in the playoffs, in the divisional round, to three points is tough to do, especially with the weapons on offense that they have in Lamar Jackson and so on and so forth. Just a really gutty performance by then. We knew we had to be disciplined and they were disciplined. They played hard throughout the entire game.”

Baltimore running back J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards combined for 84 yards in the game and neither found the endzone. But, the Ravens offense was highlighted by Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Dobbins. Brown caught four passes for 87 yards and Dobbins had three catches for 51 yards.

Overall, McDermott said he loved the game plan of the defense as they held the best rushing offense in the league to 150 yards.

“They had a great plan, it was a well-executed plan, and the way they practiced during the week was well mapped-out and intentional and I thought the players showed that in the way they practiced tonight,” McDermott said on Saturday.

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Jerry Hughes Stepped Up In a Big Way for Buffalo

Defensive end Jerry Hughes is the longest-tenured Bill and he showed up on Saturday.

Hughes only tallied three tackles, but two of his tackles were sacks and he was putting pressure on Jackson all night long. He joined Bruce Smith and Jeff Wright as the only players in team history to record multiple multi-sack playoff performances. He tallied three sacks against the Houston Texans last season in Buffalo’s playoff loss.

“That speaks volumes to the guys in this locker room,” Allen said of Hughes’ performance during his post-game video conference call. “To go out there and make plays when your number is called, Jerry is just one of those vets that just does his job. We respect him and he’s just one of those guys that you love having on your squad.”

Hughes also joined Smith, Wright, and Darryl Talley as the only Bills to have 5-plus sacks in the playoffs since 1982.

The Bills Sealed the Edge To Contain Lamar Jackson

It takes an entire team to stop Jackson and every defensive player always has to know where No. 8 is on the field. So, in order for the Bills to stop Jackson on Saturday, McDermott said it started with sealing the edge, which the Bills did for a majority of the night, but even at that point, Jackson can still break free.

“We wanted to make sure we knew where he was, but as you saw there was a 3rd and 15 maybe and he scrambled for a first down right up the middle,” McDermott said during his post-game video conference call. “There’s not a whole lot of quarterbacks in the NFL that can scramble on a 3rd and 15 right up the middle for a first down. So, he’s a special player.”

While Hughes recorded two sacks for the Bills, Levi Wallace and Mario Addison also got to the quarterback on Saturday in the big victory.


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