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Broncos 3rd & long: shuffled in Buffalo

Josh Allen shredded the Denver Broncos defense on third downs as the Buffalo Bills defense completely smothered Denver's offense.

Denver Broncos v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

I did not watch this game because of family obligations. In many ways I am glad that I was not subjected to it.

The Bronco offense was atrocious on Sunday gaining a grand total of 134 yards. There are only four games in Denver Bronco history where the offense gained fewer yards.

  • 128 yards @ WAS in 1992 in 34-3 loss
  • 82 yards @ PHI in 1992 in a 30-0 loss
  • 130 yards @ CHI in 1984 in 27-0 loss

Two of those three defenses were historically good (92 PHI and 84 CHI) and 92 WAS finished the season 8th in points allowed. The BUF defense is good (currently 3rd in points and yards allowed), but this yardage result is more of a function of the weather and our offensive ineptitude on Sunday than it is a function of great defense.

This game was really a complete system failure - offense, defense and special teams. The defense was unable to stop the run and even failed when the defense forced Buffalo into third and long. The Bills were able to convert on eight of sixteen third down situations and that included converting four of nine on long situations. They converted on their first two third and long situations.

Quarter Time Down Yards Location Score Detail Result
1 8:52 3 9 BUF 11 0-0 Josh Allen pass complete short middle to Cole Beasley for 12 yards (tackle by Justin Simmons) conversion by catch
1 5:59 3 12 BUF 32 0-0 Josh Allen up the middle for 14 yards (tackle by Dre'Mont Jones) conversion by scramble
2 8:52 3 10 DEN 10 0-0 Josh Allen pass complete short middle to Cole Beasley for 5 yards (tackle by Todd Davis) catch but short
2 0:10 3 14 BUF 36 6-0 Devin Singletary up the middle for 9 yards (tackle by Todd Davis and Alexander Johnson) run but short
3 14:17 3 11 BUF 40 6-0 Josh Allen pass complete short right to Robert Foster for 24 yards (tackle by Justin Simmons) conversion by catch
3 13:02 3 10 DEN 18 12-0 Josh Allen pass complete short middle to Cole Beasley for 18 yards, touchdown, touchdown conversion by catch
3 5:48 3 15 DEN 48 6-0 Josh Allen pass incomplete short left intended for Isaiah McKenzie (defended by Duke Dawson) incomplete
3 3:20 3 7 BUF 45 6-0 Josh Allen pass complete short right to Dawson Knox for 5 yards (tackle by Justin Simmons) run but short
4 14:00 3 12 DEN 44 0-0 Josh Allen pass complete short left to Devin Singletary for 8 yards (tackle by Chris Harris) catch but short

Josh Allen was 7/8 for 77 yards and one touchdown on third down against our defense for a passer rating of 146.4. That was the best he has performed on 3rd down against any opponent in his career so far.

Besides stopping opponents on third down so far this year, the defense has done a great job of stopping the run on first down since Alexander Johnson was inserted into the starting lineup. That also failed this games. The Bills were able to run for 116 yards on 25 first down carries. The Bills gained 22 first downs in the game, meaning that they run on first down almost every time on Sunday - and they still were able to gain 116 yards on those carries (4.64 ypc).

The Bills only threw the ball eight times on first down and one of those throws was picked by Justin Simmons. Ten of their 22 first down runs gained 5 or more yards. In a game where the weather was forcing the offenses to run the ball, the Bills were able to do so, even when we knew they were going to do so. Those first down runs has gains of 22, 14, 11 and 10 yards. For comparison the Broncos gained 29 yards on 10 first down carries (2.90 ypc).

Having not watched the game, I don’t know why the defense was so unable to stop the Bills from running the ball on first down. What is strange is that defense did such a great job of stopping the Vikings from running well on first down last game. The Vikings ran the ball 7 times for 12 yards on first down. Given that this defense has been pretty good against the run on first down (and overall) since the Jacksonville game, I could be an effort thing, i.e. that the defense just gave up, but I will not level that charge against them.

I have to assume that the Bills just had a good running scheme and that our coaches had no way to counter it. Keep in mind that while Malik Reed has well exceeded expectations so far for an undrafted rookie forced into a starting role, he is still a 230 lb OLB who is not going to be able to hold the point of attack against an OT in the run game. You have to wonder why opposing offenses have not been trying to exploit that more than they have so far this season.

For the game the Bills ran the ball 47 times and gained 244 yards on the ground. The Bills had the best rushing performance of the season on Sunday against the Broncos. Their previous high for the season was 175 yards against the Bengals. The Bronco defense has now allowed two of the eleven highest rushing totals so far this season. The worst was the Jags defense giving up 285 yards on the ground to Carolina. The Broncos allowed 269 to the Jags and 244 to the Bills.