NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 17 Game Recap: Buffalo Bills 29, Atlanta Falcons 15

Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) sheds a tackle by Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. (6) in the third quarter at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Things were looking shaky for the 14-point favorite Buffalo Bills at halftime, but Josh Allen & Co. outscored the visiting Atlanta Falcons 14-0 in the second half to win 29-15 in Week 17.

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Buffalo Bills

Quarterback

A week removed from PFF Offensive Player of the Week honors, Josh Allen struggled to get much rolling against a middling Falcons defense. PFF charted only one of Allen’s three interceptions as a turnover-worthy play, but several inaccurate passes and a lack of big-time throws means that he'll likely be heading for a sub-60.0 PFF grade for Week 17.

Allen by average time-to-throw against the Falcons

2.5 sec or less 2.6 sec or more
4/8 Comp/Att 7/18
45 (5.6) Yards (YPA) 75 (4.2)
0:0 TD:INT 0:3
0:0 BTT:TWP 0:1
67.2 Passer Rating 12.3

Allen did make up for his passing woes with a standout day on the ground. The quarterback took four scrambles and 11 designed runs for 81 yards. Of those 15 carries, three went for 10-plus yards, and eight resulted in either a first down or touchdown.

Running Back

Devin Singletary had the best game of his 2021 season. He handled a season-high 23 carries, and 94 of his 110 rushing yards came after contact. Singletary broke five total tackles and averaged 4.1 yards after contact per attempt.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Stefon Diggs was Buffalo’s most targeted receiver despite seeing a lot of single coverage against A.J. Terrell, PFF’s highest-graded cornerback. He received eight targets on 27 routes, 15 of which came against Terrell in press coverage. Diggs caught only two of his six targets against that coverage for 19 yards.

Cole Beasley struggled all afternoon, dropping one pass and mustering only 1.05 yards per route run.

Buffalo generated only three explosive pass plays of 15 or more yards, and Gabriel Davis was responsible for two of them.

Offensive Line

Buffalo’s offensive line held up well despite Josh Allen’s long average time to throw (3.4 seconds). Not one of the starters was responsible for a sack or a hit on the quarterback, and the group combined for six hurries allowed on first review. Center Mitch Morse was the lone player to pitch a shutout with no pass-block losses on the day.

Defensive Line

Believe it or not, the most productive players in the pass rush for Buffalo included interior defensive linemen Harrison Phillips and Efe Obada. Those two have been afterthoughts in the pass-rush this season but ended up ranking first and tied for third among those on the team in pass-rush wins.

Linebacker

Tremaine Edmunds had a performance to forget. Nearly half of his 20 run snaps netted a negative grade from PFF on first review. In coverage, he gave up three catches for 42 yards and three first downs and made no plays on the ball.

Secondary

Dane Jackson is likely to be Buffalo’s lowest-graded defensive back in coverage on first review. He allowed three catches for a team-worst 87 yards in his coverage. It’s also the most yards Jackson has allowed in a game since taking over for the injured Tre’Davious White.

Atlanta Falcons

Quarterback

Matt Ryan saw considerable pressure against the Bills, just as he has all year, and that took a toll on his output.

Ryan vs. the Bills

When Clean Under Pressure
17 Dropbacks 13
11/15 Comp/Att 2/8 
165 (11.0) Yards (YPA) 32 (4.0)
0:2 BTT:TWP 0:1

Overall, Atlanta generated -0.31 expected points added (EPA) per pass play against Buffalo, the Falcons' fourth-worst single-game mark of the Arthur Smith era. According to PFF's first review of the game film, this is set to be one of Ryan’s lowest-graded games of the year.

Running Back

Cordarrelle Patterson, Mike Davis and Qadree Ollison all took multiple carries and came out with one explosive run of 10 or more yards apiece. They were all reliant on perfect run-blocking, as they combined for zero broken tackles and 44 yards after contact on 20 carries.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Rookie phenom Kyle Pitts pulled up with a leg injury early in the third quarter and didn't return. However, he was productive on the snaps he did get, breaking a couple of tackles and averaging 4.93 yards per route run (69 yards on 14 routes).

Wide receiver Russell Gage was targeted on at least 20% of his routes for the seventh straight game and recorded multiple explosive receptions of 15 or more yards for the third time this season. However, he wasn’t productive enough to make a significant dent and finished with just 2.00 yards per route run.

Offensive Line

Right guard Chris Lindstrom was the lone standout performer in pass protection. He didn’t lose a single pass-block rep.

Left guard was a significant issue for Atlanta. Rookie Jalen Mayfield allowed five total pressures on 28 pass-block snaps, one of which was a sack. Colby Gossett played two snaps in replacement for Mayfield, and he allowed a hit.

Defensive Line

Edge defender Dante Fowler Jr. finished with four of the defensive line’s nine pressures generated, but two were deemed unblocked while the other two were cleanups.

Linebacker

Foyesade Oluokun had the best performance of his season from a coverage perspective, allowing only one catch for nine yards while intercepting one pass and forcing an incompletion.

Secondary

A.J. Terrell did give up four catches for 37 yards, but he made up for it with an interception, a forced incompletion and two passing stops.

Safety Duron Harmon was a standout player with no yards allowed in coverage while intercepting one and forcing an incompletion. As a result, he will likely end up as Atlanta’s highest-graded defensive back in coverage.

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