Walking in a winter wonderland was out of the question, but the Buffalo Bills waltzed with a win nonetheless in an unfamiliar habitat.
Forced from the friendly confines of Highmark Stadium to Detroit's Ford Field by snowstorms in Western New York, the Buffalo Bills got back on the right track against the Cleveland Browns after a slow first half. A 31-23 victory over their fellow visitors thrust the Bills back into a first-place tie in the AFC East with Miami, returning to the win column after consecutive losses.
But maybe the confines in Detroit were more friendly than anybody could've guessed.
"When you get home, pay those fans some f---ing respect,'' QB Josh Allen said of the Bills-loving ticket-holders at Ford Field. "Get 'em something nice. Treat 'em well, because that was f—ing awesome to see. It took a lot of s— to get us here. That could have drained us, but it didn't.''
There's much to discuss in a victory that was anything but perfect ...
Cooking Up Some Run Traction
When it comes to rushing, the Bills have struggled to gain traction with any individual name, often relying on Josh Allen for ground production in addition to his aerial antics. But the James Cook/Devin Singletary tandem built some strong momentum in Detroit after Allen headlined a 175-yard effort against Minnesota last week. The traditional rushers united for 172, an even 86 each, on Sunday, with Singletary earning the Bills' lone second-half touchdown and Cook earning nearly half of his entire rookie output to date (169). If the run game can bring relief to Allen while he works off the lingering aftershocks of injury, the Bills could recapture the offensive spark that propelled them through the early stages of the season.
The Bills who literally dug Dawson Knox out of the snow to allow him to catch the the bus to Detroit should probably get one of the game balls: Knox, perhaps finally living up to his big contract, picked up a team 70 yards and caught all of seven of his targets, providing a sense of stability as Allen and the offense continue to seek clarity and traction. Each of his second half receptions set up scores, including Singletary's touchdown.
Kicking field goals will probably bite the Bills against greater competition, but Tyler Bass came through for a Buffalo offense struggling to find its land legs again. His six field goals tied a career-best and half of them came from at least 40 yards away. His boots were part of a stellar special teams day for the Bills, who enjoyed strong starting field position set up by the antics of Nyheim Hines, who earned 113 yards on five runbacks.
No Hubbub For Chubb
While the Bills had some trouble stopping Cleveland's passing attack (particularly Amari Cooper), they made sure that Nick Chubb never got off to a good rhythm. The star rusher had only 19 yards on 14 attempts...seven on 13 if a single 12-yard tally was removed. Buffalo improved to 6-0 with Jordan Poyer (five tackles, two pass defenses, and a tackle for a loss) in the lineup while Matt Milano might've spent more time in the Browns' backfield than Chubb himself to the tune of three tackles for a loss (including one sack).
Buffalo won't have long to rest, as it'll stay in the Motor City to partake in the Thanksgiving festivities against the Detroit Lions on Thursday (12:30 p.m. ET, CBS). The Lions (4-6) enter on a high note, having crawled back into the outskirts of the NFC playoff picture with consecutive victories, the latest coming on Sunday at MetLife Stadium over the New York Giants.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
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