I know I lot of people don’t like these low scoring games that are decided by field goals, but I kind of love them. Each play ends up meaning so much. Neither team could get anything going all game, Tennessee averaged just 4.33 total yards per play. But not to be out done, Buffalo averaged just 3.54 yards per play. There were plenty of interesting things from this game, so let’s get into it.
There was only one touchdown scored all game between these two teams, and it happened on the second drive of the game. I chose the touchdown play for my article where I break down a play from every team, as it was a pretty interesting play design. despite having a fullback in, Buffalo had Josh Allen run a bootleg and he ended up rushing for a touchdown. interestingly enough, Buffalo rushed all 11 times they had a fullback in the game, and gained just 2.73 yards per play.
Tennessee was amazingly even worse rushing with a fullback in, as they gained just 6 yards on 5 rushing plays. They did find some success passing with a fullback in, as they gained 4.83 yards per passing play on those plays. That’s typically not great, but in this game where yards where hard to come by, it’s pretty decent. They did an even better job when it came to 4 wide sets, as they gained 5.8 yards per play from those. However that was only over 5 plays. I’m not really sure why Tennessee didn’t use that set more often, but they probably should’ve.
While the Titans probably should’ve used a 4 wide set more frequently, Buffalo maybe shouldn’t have used them at all. The Bills gained just 1.88 yards per play over the 9 plays they ran from a 4 wide set. It’s also worth mentioning that the Bills ran the ball 5 of those 9 times, which is certainly unusual, but Buffalo was committed to the run, as they rushed the ball on 43 of their 63 total plays (68.3% of the time).
It’s so crucial in the NFL to be able to move the ball out of standard personnel sets (sets with 3 receivers a tight end and a halfback). The Titans struggled throwing the ball out of those sets, as they gained just 2.80 yards per passing play from them. However they had great success rushing from those sets, gaining an even 7 yards per rushing play from them. Although they only rushed from those sets 7 times. Much like how they had success from 4 wide, the Titans had success on a play they they used infrequently. If Tennessee made more adjustments and used what was working more often, they might’ve been able to have more offensive success.
Meanwhile for Buffalo, they had similar overall success (or lack thereof) out of standard sets. They gained 4.31 yards per play from those sets. However they were pretty much the same whether it was running or throwing the ball from those sets. They gained 4.18 yards per passing play and 4.6 yards per rushing play. They also had success rushing the ball from a two tight end set, as they gained 4.14 yards per play from those. I know it might sound odd to consider just over 4 yards per play as one of a team’s better sets, but when you only averaged 3.54 yards per play, every little bit helps. And while Tennessee didn’t use their best plays as often as they probably should’ve, the Bills did. 34 of their plays were out of those two sets I just mentioned, which is 52.3% of their overall plays. It might not have been super flashy, but it got the job done.
The last thing I want to touch on is Buffalo’s game winning drive. So often I feel like teams will try to get all the yards they need in one play, and they can especially abandon the run game. Buffalo continued to do what they do best of offense, and that’s run the ball. 7 of their last 9 plays were designed rushes. 6 of those 9 plays had multiple tight ends, 4 of which had 3 tight ends in the game. This allowed them to move the ball, run out the clock, and kick a game winning field goal to win the game and move up to 2-3.