With the 2018 NFL season in the books, we look back at the year and our beloved Buffalo Bills. Every week is a story, and we bring this to you through the lens of key plays that defined each game. Your Week 10 match-up:
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A free-agent quarterback walks into a bar. The bartender asks “What’ll it be buddy?” The quarterback replies: “Nothing, I’ve just been signed by the Buffalo Bills and have to start a game in less than two weeks. I need to go get a playbook.” OK, OK. It’s less joke and more “95% accurate version of how Matt Barkley came to be the starting quarterback against the New York Jets.”
I literally only had to change the name and the opponent from the last time I used this joke. After the disaster against the Chicago Bears the Nathan Peterman experiment was nearing the end. Matt Barkley, signed just a few days before the Bears debacle, was handed the reigns against the Jets with Josh Allen still out. On the other side of the field, was
rookie signal caller Sam Darnold Josh McCown. A battle of the veterans ensued. Actually it wasn’t much of a battle. Buffalo pulled away early and never looked back.
Matt Barkley lets it rip (Q1, 15:00)
At this point in the season, playoffs were essentially a pipe dream. Running the table starting with this game would have put the Bills at 9-7. Of their seven losses, only one had been decided by less than two scores. The Bills were starting their fourth quarterback of the year and the second who was signed mid-season and given less than two weeks to prepare. With nothing to lose, the Bills got creative.
Brian Daboll gave Matt Barkley a simplified playbook and let it loose from the first play of the game. With only two receivers running routes, Barkley has enough blockers to buy him time to launch. The pass drifts a little right, preventing Robert Foster from turning upfield for a 75-yard score, but the Jets are reeling. Daboll continued to call aggressive passes with simplified reads and convinced the Jets to back off the line of scrimmage. It was such an uncharacteristic strategy you might recall it warranted its own article.
LeSean McCoy touchdown run (14:20)
It’s rare to have two defining plays occur back-to-back, let alone the first two plays from scrimmage. But this wasn’t an ordinary game. With the Jets still discussing the 47-yard pass to Robert Foster the Bills call LeSean McCoy’s number. Motion from Ray-Ray McCloud makes several defenders look his way. As McCoy bursts through, even the closest man wearing green is too late. A two-play drive has put the Bills ahead by seven. Buffalo takes longer to walk down the field after the long pass than they did running the actual drive.
Jordan Poyer sacks Josh McCown with Milano assist (Q1, 10:20)
With the Jets on their heels defensively, their offense hopes to get something going. The Buffalo defense had other plans and locked things down in the first quarter. This helped set the stage for a blowout. Matt Milano can’t bring down Josh McCown, but makes sure there’s no chance the ball is leaving his hand. Jordan Poyer is right behind Milano to finish the job. All told, the Jets managed to move the ball a net gain of one yard in the first quarter. A pass deflected by Jerry Hughes, two tackles for a loss, and incompletions forced by tight coverage assured the Jets’ misery. The steadily increasing score from Buffalo would add pressure to the Jets’ offense as the game wore on, which helped the defense add to their highlights. Two more sacks, two interceptions, and several more tackles for losses kept the Jets to 199 total yards and under 21 minutes for time of possession.
Jason Croom touchdown (Q1, 2:25)
Sometimes it’s just your day. A well-designed play gets the ball to Zay Jones, but he fumbles trying to extend for the score. While the defense has been pummeling the Jets, the Buffalo offense had yet to score again in the first quarter despite the continued aggressive play. A recovery by the Jets could have turned the game around. Instead, the ball heads right to Jason Croom.
Dion Dawkins touchdown (Q2, 8:02)
A long pass to Zay Jones at the end of the first quarter had set up a Buffalo field goal in the beginning of the second. Another three-and-out from the Jets set up a long drive for the Bills. Continuing to use their creative playbook, they dial up Dion Dawkins’s number. Dawkins sells a quick chip on his way to one of the easiest scores of the year. Matt Barkley has now thrown for 146 yards.
Buffalo would go into halftime up 31-3, and eventually win 41-10. The Jets allowed 212 rushing yards as the early aggressive pass calls rattled them off their game plan. This was the most rushing yards for the Bills in 2018. LeSean McCoy scored a second touchdown and Zay Jones found the end zone on his second try. It was a good day for the Bills.
Which play best defines the Bills stomping the Jets?
Matt Barkley lets it rip
LeSean McCoy touchdown
Jason Croom touchdown
Dion Dawkins touchdown
346 votes total