Tremaine Edmunds, Buffalo Bills center-back
During Sean McDermott’s first three years in Buffalo, the Bills were one of the best defensive teams in the league, making sure to control time with the run and keep teams as limited as possible defensively.
But the Buffalo philosophy changed at the beginning of this season. Josh Allen took the offensive teams out of their game by playing the ball around and attacking teams in the air. Then, at least early in the season, it seemed like the defense was trying to take over the offense.
As the season progressed, however, the defense began to perform at the level of the last three seasons, and Saturday’s performance against the Baltimore Ravens could be a sign of what it is truly capable of.
They limited former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson to 34 yards on 162-yard passes and sent him away three times. Cornerback Taron Johnson also had one of the greatest moments of his career when he hit Jackson from the goal line, sending him 101 yards back for a touchdown that gave Buffalo a 17-3 lead. It’s also Jackson’s first red zone interception of his NFL career.
McDermott said the overall defensive performance was perhaps one of the best defensive performances of the season.
She was there, McDermott said during his video conference after the game. Holding a team to three points in the playoffs, in the divisional round, is difficult, especially with the offensive weapons they have with Lamar Jackson and such. In those days it was really an extraordinary achievement. We knew we had to be disciplined and they were. They played hard the whole game.
Baltimore running back J.J. К. Dobbins and Gus Edwards combined for 84 yards in the game and neither found the end zone. But the Ravens’ offense was accentuated by the Hollywood Brown and Dobbins Marquesses. Brown caught four passes for 87 yards and Dobbins had three passes for 51 yards.
McDermott said he liked the defensive game plan because they kept the league’s best offense under 150 yards.
They had a good plan, it was a well executed plan and the way they trained during the week was well thought out and intentional and I think the players showed that in the way they trained tonight, McDermott said Saturday.
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Jerry Hughes plays a big role for Buffalo
Defender Jerry Hughes is the Bill’s oldest fullback, and he appeared on Saturday.
Hughes counted just three tackles, but two of them were sacks, and he kept Jackson under pressure all night. He joins Bruce Smith and Jeff Wright, the only players in team history to make multiple playoffs. Last season, he had three sacks in a playoff loss against Buffalo with the Houston Texans.
That says a lot about the guys in the locker room, Allen said of Hughes’ performance in a video conference after the game. To go play when called upon, Jerry is one of those veterans who just does his job. We respect him and he’s just one of those guys that you like to have on your team.
Hughes joins Smith, Wright and Darryl Talley as the only Bills player to make five sacks in the playoffs since 1982.
Billsclose the edges to keep Lamar Jackson.
It takes a whole team to stop Jackson, and every defender must always know where the number 8 is on the field. To stop Jackson Saturday, McDermott said it started with closing edges, which the Bills did for most of the night, but even at that point Jackson was still able to escape.
We wanted to make sure we knew where he was, but as you saw, it was maybe on 3rd and 15, and he slid right down the middle the first time, McDermott said in a video conference after the game. There aren’t many quarterbacks in the NFL who can make a run through the middle for a first down attempt on 3 and 15. So he’s a special player.
While Hughes racked up two sacks for the Bills, Levi Wallace and Mario Addison also reached the quarterback in a big win Saturday.