ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A matchup between the NFL's third- and fourth-ranked passing offenses seems destined for a shootout, right? Especially when conditions in western New York were abnormally, well, nice?
In a normal year, maybe. Not in 2020, though.
The Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers dinked and dunked their way to 451 combined passing yards during Buffalo's 27-17 victory Sunday. The Bills didn't eclipse 100 passing yards until well into the third quarter. Buffalo spent its Week 11 bye taking a "deep dive" into its 27th-ranked rushing offense and sought to establish the run early against Los Angeles, feeding the ball equally to running backs Zack Moss and Devin Singletary while dialing up several designed runs for quarterback Josh Allen.
It resulted in what appeared to be a far more conservative game plan for the Bills than they've displayed during a resurgent offensive season.
Buffalo's 172 yards on the ground marked its second-highest rushing total of the season, thanks to 82 yards from Singletary on 11 carries. For most of the game, it was difficult to justify the game plan but both Singletary and Moss successfully broke off chunk gains late in the game against a fatigued Chargers defense. The performance wasn't quite enough to pronounce Buffalo's rushing woes cured but proved once again that the Bills can win with a run-heavy script.
Describe the game in two words: Circus act -- only because comedy of errors is too many words. In the fourth quarter, both teams traded empty possessions like the world's saddest game of Pong. Turnover on downs. Fumble. Field goal. Fumble. Punt. Interception. Buffalo at one point committed turnovers on three straight possessions before breaking the skid with a Tyler Bass field goal to take a 10-point lead with 3:26 left.
Biggest hole in the game plan: Stefon Diggs did not record his first official catch -- or target -- until the Bills' opening drive of the third quarter. Establishing the run is nice and all, when you can successfully establish it. But considering Buffalo owns the fourth-best passing offense in the league, it seemed odd not to use that. Clearly, the Bills' coaching staff is frustrated by the ineffectiveness of their team's run game entering Week 12 and somewhat forced the issue Sunday.
Promising/troubling trend: Buffalo entered the day ranked 30th in rushing yards allowed, giving up a whopping 135 per game. Two weeks removed from allowing 217 rushing yards to the Cardinals, the Bills bottled up the Chargers on the ground. In his first game since Week 4, Austin Ekeler rushed for 44 yards on 14 carries as Los Angeles mustered just 76 rushing yards as a team. It marked the Bills' fifth time holding an opponent to less than 100 rushing yards and it was no easy feat, considering the Chargers averaged the 10th-most rushing yards in the league entering Week 12. Overall, it was Buffalo's strongest defensive performance of the season, outside of its two games against the winless Jets.
Buy/sell on a breakout performance: With John Brown spending at least the next three weeks on injured reserve, Gabriel Davis figures to see an increased workload in Brown's stead. He did not disappoint Sunday, reeling in three catches for 79 yards and a touchdown on four targets. It marked Davis' second-highest yardage total of the season and pushed his touchdown total to a team-high four. The Bills trust the rookie completely and will need him to step up, as their offense has struggled thus far when Brown misses time.