The Buffalo Bills completely controlled this highly anticipated Sunday Night Football affair — pre- and post-weather delay. In the end, the Kansas City Chiefs’ explosive passing attack was nowhere to be found, while Bills quarterback Josh Allen delivered numerous strikes downfield to lead Buffalo to a 38-20 victory.
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Josh Allen’s arm strength is no secret at this point in his career. And that arm strength paid dividends in the deep passing game tonight, where he delivered a whopping five big-time throws.
Josh Allen: Deep passing (20-plus air yards) vs. Kansas City
Those five deep shots were the driving force behind Buffalo's 38 points.
Allen also generated value in the running game. The former first-rounder picked up a first down or touchdown on half of his 10 attempts, three of which picked up 10 or more yards.
After an up-and-down start to the 2021 season, this performance was reminiscent of Allen's 2020 breakout campaign.
Allen was the Bills' only successful ball carrier against the Chiefs. Zack Moss and Devin Singletary combined for 17 carries and picked up only two first downs, with their longest run going for just nine yards.
Wide receivers/tight ends
Tight end Dawson Knox entered Week 5 with only six career deep receptions to his name and only one since the start of the 2020 season. However, he ended up being Allen’s go-to deep target tonight, with three deep receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught only two passes, but both were important third-down receptions that moved the chains. His longest reception of the night was a 61-yard snag that came far too easily against Kansas City's Daniel Sorensen.
Slot receiver Cole Beasley had the second-least productive game of his Bills career, as he managed just 0.31 yards per route run. He ran a route on only 16 of Buffalo’s 30 pass plays.
Buffalo’s offensive line put the clamps on the Chris Jones-less Kansas City pass rush. Four of the five starters allowed zero pressures on the night, and the one player who did allow pressure — right tackle Spencer Brown — only allowed a couple of hurries and zero sacks or hits.
Veteran edge defender Jerry Hughes was hands down the best defensive lineman in this contest. He racked up nine total pressures and a 22.7% pass-rush win rate on 44 pass-rushes, his second-largest single-game workload since 2016.
Rookie edge defender Gregory Rousseau came away with three pressures on the night and got his hand on a ball for a batted pass that he picked off inside his team's 10-yard line.
Tremaine Edmunds was a liability against the run. While the Chiefs’ running game was nothing great, the Bills linebacker found himself out of position several times and earned a poor run-defense grade for the night. He wasn’t too bad in coverage, with only 27 yards allowed on 70 reps, but he did give up a goal-line score.
Slot corner Taron Johnson was the secret superstar of the Bills defense on Sunday night. He saw 10 targets in the slot and allowed only one first down while forcing two incompletions and three passing stops.
Johnson is now one of the highest-graded slot corners of the NFL this season. In four games, he has given up only three first downs on 25 targets.
Buffalo’s top-tier safety duo of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde also put on a standout performance. Neither allowed a catch in coverage while combining for three plays on the ball. Poyer forced two incompletions, and Hyde grabbed a dropped pass out of the air for a pick-six.
Everything was out of sync with the Chiefs’ offense, including star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Kansas City signal-caller made very few throws of note, completing just one deep pass attempt on the night.
Mahomes averaged only 5.0 yards per attempt from a clean pocket. That’s the lowest regular-season mark in his entire career — by a large margin.
Patrick Mahomes: Fewest yards per attempt from a clean pocket since 2017
|Game||YPA When Clean|
|2021 W5 vs. BUF||5.0|
|2018 W13 at OAK||5.7|
|2019 W11 at LAC||5.8|
|2020 W2 at LAC||6.3|
|2020 W15 at NO||6.3|
Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a rough night that unfortunately ended in what could be a serious knee injury. Four of his seven carriers went for one yard or less. He also saw a couple of targets in the passing game but finished with an underwhelming grade in that facet due to a drop.
Wide receivers/tight ends
It's almost hard to believe that Tyreek Hill saw 14 targets yet generated only one explosive pass play of 15-plus yards. Some of this was due to the offense by design, but there were moments where he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain, such as his dropped pass that Micah Hyde picked off and took to the end zone.
As usual, tight end Travis Kelce was tasked with playing all over the field, running 15 or more routes in-line, from the slot and on the outside. Kelce was targeted on only 14.3% of his routes on Sunday night, which was his second-lowest target rate in a game since Mahomes took over the offense in 2018.
The Chiefs' offensive line was tasked with 31 total true pass sets, 38 when you include plays negated by penalty. Four of the five starters lost two or fewer reps on that massive load. Lucas Niang provided the only blemish, as the right tackle allowed six pressures and lost eight total reps on true pass sets.
The Chiefs’ defensive line almost got blanked in the pass-rush without Chris Jones on the field. The unit as a whole combined for five total pressures, only two of which were a genuine win and not a cleanup pressure or unblocked pressure. Those five pressures tie for the second-fewest by a Chiefs defensive line in a single game in the last five years.
Kansas City’s young linebackers shined against Buffalo while veteran Anthony Hitchens struggled. Hitchens allowed three first downs in coverage and owns a PFF grade in the low 40s upon first review.
Rookie Nick Bolton tallied a couple of tackles for loss against the run and a passing stop, while 2020 second-round pick Willie Gay Jr. produced one stop against the run and pass on his limited action (25 snaps). Both players have a grade above 75.0 on first review.
Daniel Sorensen’s rough start in 2021 continued into Week 5. He gave up three explosive receptions in the contest, resulting in 130 yards and a touchdown for the Bills offense. Sorenson has now allowed 14.3 yards per target this season, the third-worst among all NFL defenders through Week 5.
Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed also had a disappointing night and was responsible for some of Buffalo's big pass plays. He gave up four catches on six targets for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Of those four receptions allowed, three went for an explosive gain of 15-plus yards.