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Connection between Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs keeps getting more marvelous


HipKat
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Overview

Josh Allen delivered another magnificent performance on "Monday Night Football," completing 26 of 38 attempts for 317 yards and four touchdowns without an interception or turnover. His QB performance grade of 93.6% illustrated how precise he was, as 46 of his 51 plays were perfect. Allen was masterful at the line of scrimmage, in play action and, specifically, in several important situations early in the game that turned the tables on a limited Tennessee Titans attack and eventually allowed the Buffalo Bills to run away with the game in the second half of a 41-7 victory. 

Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey did a tremendous job creating new looks and using different weapons such as fullback/tight end Reggie Gilliam. He designed a unique RPO with Stefon Diggs in which Allen pulled the football on several running plays to throw it to Diggs with a soft defender on him. The design, throwing a run-pass option to the single “X” receiver, tells you all you need to know about their mental preparation. Dorsey and Allen knew exactly how the Titans were going to react, and took advantage of their style of play. 

Allen and the Bills’ offense dominated, totaling 414 total yards to just 187 total yards for the Titans. Diggs was unstoppable, with 12 receptions and three touchdowns. The story of this game, however, beyond the avalanche of scoring in the third quarter, was the fact that the Buffalo defense allowed Derrick Henry only 25 yards on 13 carries. The Bills’ defense completely shut down Henry, which devastated the Titans’ balanced approach and put the outcome into the hands of Ryan Tannehill, who threw two key interceptions.

First quarter

Play selection: 19 plays: 12 passes, eight runs.

Allen: 9 for 12 passing, 78 yards, one touchdown. One carry, 10 yards.

Performance grade: 95%.

Score: Tie, 7-7.

Allen and the Bills’ offense scored on one of their two offensive possessions in the first quarter. The Titans won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. This gave the Bills an immediate opportunity to jump into the lead, which they did. On the Bills’ opening drive, Allen converted three third downs to keep the 12-play scoring drive alive. This third-and-9 conversion scramble by Allen set the tone of this game, as Allen physically propelled himself beyond the first-down marker.

Here, Allen broke containment and decided to take off to his left. The first Tennessee defender to get his hands on Allen was Jeffery Simmons. Simmons was running at an angle and couldn’t pull him down Then, Roger McCreary had an opportunity to get Allen down, but could not as Allen dove and twirled forward to gain the yardage the Bills needed. Allen willed himself this first down.

Seven plays later, Allen completed a screen pass to the least likely Bills player to be targeted, fullback Gilliam, who took the completion into the end zone for Allen's first passing touchdown of the game.

 

Gilliam lined up as the fullback to the weak side of the formation in what is known as 21 personnel, meaning two running backs and one tight end. The Bills historically run the football with this personnel group, and this time they set up a unique play-action. This was a very creative use of this formation and play-action to come back to Gilliam. Despite being fooled, the Titans recovered and nearly had Gilliam wrapped up. Gilliam’s hustle and physicality prevailed as he stayed on his feet and found his way through missed tackles to the end zone.

On the Bills’ second series, with the score tied 7-7, Allen made one of his only negative plays of the game. On fourth-and-1 from the Titans’ 31-yard line, the Bills were in a rush to try to get the play off in time and not only failed on the attempt, but nearly made a catastrophic mistake.

Here, coach Sean McDermott probably wanted to kick the field goal. This delay in deciding resulted in a late play-call from Dorsey as Allen tried to get lined up and ready to snap the ball before the play clock expired. The hurried nature of this play foiled it before it got started. Allen was surprised by blitzing safety Kevin Byard and tried to unconventionally shuffle the ball away to avoid a more negative play. All this could have been avoided by kicking the field goal and taking the points..

Second quarter

Play selection: 13 plays: 11 passes, two runs.

Allen: 9 for 11 passing, 130 yards, one touchdown. No carries.

Performance grade: 92%.

Score: Bills, 17-7.

Allen and the Bills’ offense took over on their third possession of the game with 9:36 remaining in the second quarter. Allen capitalized on a five-play drive, which included two defensive penalties, resulting in a go-ahead field goal to make the game 10-7. The Bills came back again with another drive with 5:10 remaining to break the game open before half with this fourth-and-1 play.

The key to visualizing this play is the fact that Isaiah McKenzie started as the most outside receiver to Allen’s left in what was a four receiver set. McKenzie’s motion created a “new” most outside receiver, Diggs. This is who Titans cornerback Caleb Farley was supposed to have. Farley should have bumped down to take Diggs, but the crazy loop motion by McKenzie caused panic and confusion. Farley immediately reacted and lost track of Diggs, who snuck across the field undetected. Allen, somehow, was able to read and see this blown assignment while rolling to his left. Allen saw and knew Diggs was uncovered and rifled a strike to Diggs for the 4-yard score with a minute remaining in the half for a 17-7 lead.

Third quarter

Play selection: 18 plays: 16 passes, two runs.

Allen: 8 for 15 passing, 109 yards, two touchdowns, two sacks. No carries.

Performance grade: 94%.

Score: Bills, 41-7.

The Buffalo defense held on the opening kickoff to begin the second half. This is when the real fireworks occurred, as Allen and the Bills’ offense took a commanding 24-7 lead on this tremendous post throw to Diggs.

On second-and-10 from the 46-yard line, Allen got solid pass protection that allowed him enough time to see the safety and corner bite on two dig routes, which left Diggs one-on-one with cornerback Tre Avery. This completion on Avery put the game virtually out of reach.

The Bills were able to get the football back with another defensive stop with 9:14 remaining in the quarter. They could not convert a third-and-1, and McDermott decided to punt. The Titans muffed the punt return and turned the football back to the Bills on the Titans' 20-yard line. The Bills could not convert again, but instead settled for another field goal to push their lead to 27-7.

The Bills’ defense created another turnover and handed Allen and the offense another scoring opportunity at midfield with 6:47 remaining in the quarter.  This time, Allen made them pay with this scintillating RPO touchdown pass to Diggs.

Here, Allen’s long play fake to Zack Moss caused safety A.J. Moore Jr. to fill the run box with run support. As Allen saw this, Diggs had a built-in slant behind Moore. All Allen had to do was allow Diggs time to get to that space Moore had vacated. This was a tremendous read and even better execution between Allen and Diggs. Give credit to Dorsey, who called these plays to take advantage of the anticipated defensive reactions of the Titans’ personnel.

This fourth and final touchdown from Allen increased the Bills’ lead to 34-7 with more than 5 minutes remaining in the quarter. The game at this point was over for Allen and the offensive starters.

Adding insult to injury, the Bills’ defense put one more score on the board with an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Matt Milano.

The Titans' game plan was to keep pace with the Bills into the fourth quarter. This plan went out the window early in the third, as three costly turnovers upended all hopes for Tennessee.

Conclusion

In all my years of rooting for and following the Bills, there is only one other game I remember in which the Bills fulfilled the promise of their greatness to the extent they did Monday. The game I’m referring to was the AFC championship win on Jan. 20, 1991, against Howie Long and the Oakland Raiders. The Bills excoriated the Raiders to the tune of 51-3. This contest against the Titans felt the same way. It was the fulfillment of the potential and promise of a team, on prime time, hitting on all cylinders, executing in all phases and dominating in a way we rarely see at this elite level of competition.

Allen was, and is, everything the Bills’ franchise could have ever hoped for. His development, command, and leadership is unparalleled. To the credit of general manager Brandon Beane and McDermott, they have assembled a team whose physicality, depth and hunger for a championship runs as deep as I’ve seen in all of my years studying the game. Clearly, the right pieces are in place with the right attitude to saw through opponents and take their place in franchise history as one of the most talented and capable groups ever. 

This is very high praise for a team that deserves it, a team that has the ability to physically and strategically dominate. It is only Week 2, and there is a great deal of football to be played, but should the Bills stay healthy and continue to perform the way they did Monday, there isn’t a team in the game that can match them.

“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”
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