Following the Bills’ 27-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, Buffalo improved to 8-3, but this win was unlike others we have seen in 2020.
For most of the year, the Bills offense has carried the team, (or special teams if you count the Week 7 Jets game,) but in Week 12, Buffalo’s defense showed up when they were needed most.
Entering halftime, the Bills held a 17-6 lead, and from there, the offense only managed to add 10 more points, while also turning the ball over three times. The Bills had two fumbles lost and an interception.
The defense, while not perfect, held the Chargers’ fourth-ranked offense to only 17 points and forced rookie quarterback Justin Herbert to have one of the worst games of his young career. While perhaps a surprising effort to observers of the team, their coach said he saw what he is accustomed to seeing from this defense against the Bolts.
“That’s the defense I expect. I expect that every week,” Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott said via video conference following the game. “I think that it just goes back to… fundamentals, technique, spending time in the film room together. All those things is a big part of earning the right to win and they did that.”
The Bills managed to takeaway the ball just once, on a Tre’Davious White interception, but Buffalo pressured Herbert and cause him to miss throws that he doesn’t usually miss.
— Bradley Gelber (@BradleyGelber) November 29, 2020
Essentially McDermott thought it was a full defensive effort from his team. He also hopes that it’s potentially momentum building one.
“I thought that was very impressive… I thought [defensive coordinator] Leslie (Frazier) and his staff did a great job during the week taking a good game-plan with good communication and the players embraced it.” McDermott said. “They spent a lot of time this week, that’s a good offense… they’ve been hot with weapons all over… and then to get that group back was a big jolt for them, in a good way and our guys rose to the challenge, so that’s what we’ve got to do every week.”
While there is still work to be done on both sides of the ball, having your defense show up in crucial moments, especially when your offense and quarterback are struggling, is imperative.
Leading that clutch defense for the Bills was another good effort from AJ Klein. His 14 tackles, three for loss and 1.5 sacks all led Buffalo, the linebacker still knows that it was a full unit effort by the Bills as well.
“Playing four downs of football and trying to create negative plays and I think we did that. We got a big turnover by Tre, we got pressure in Herbert’s face, so overall I thought we played really well,” Klein said via video conference. “It was good to see us respond.”
In the end, the win was not the prettiest, however, you don’t get style points in the NFL. 8-3 is 8-3 regardless of how you get there.
“It’s hard to win this league… it’s good to be 8-3,” McDermott added. “We came off the bye and got a win.”
As we come down the final stretch and head towards the playoffs, the Bills will hope to see more of this defense and not the defense that too often left us scratching our heads during the first half of the season.