What We Saw: Week 12

Is Cordarrelle Patterson the best waiver wire find of the year? Probably.

Bills @ Saints 

Final Score: Bills 31, Saints 6

Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

 

After both teams suffered disappointing defeats in Week 11, the Buffalo Bills and the New Orleans Saints aimed to serve up a feast on Thanksgiving as Sean McDermott and Sean Payton attempted to reignite their team’s push to the playoffs. The Bills cooked up a treat but the Saints fell flat at home once again. Josh Allen threw four touchdown passes to give the Bills a commanding lead midway midway through the fourth quarter, rendering his two picks irrelevant as Trevor Siemian and the Saints’ offense failed to come up with anything at every hurdle in this contest.

On a special edition of Sunday Night Football on NBC (on a Thursday night), Drew Brees returned to New Orleans in place of Cris Collinsworth on the telecast – he paid tribute to Collinsworth with a textbook slide for the introduction.

 

 

Brees watched a torrid first half for the Saints, in which they went scoreless and failed to convert any of their six third-down attempts. This included two turnovers on downs – a failed fourth-down rush and a failed fake punt, which never had a chance.

 

 

Luckily, the Saints defense bailed the team out with a tipped interception in the red zone off Josh Allen late in the first half. It was Allen’s second turnover of the game after he had earlier forced a ball into the arms of Saints cornerback Bradley Roby. The Bills did enough to edge themselves ahead with that opening drive, however, taking a 10-0 lead into the break.

After an inspiring half time message from Brees, it was all about Allen and the Bills in the second half.

 

 

Allen threw touchdown passes to Stefon Diggs, Dawson Knox and Matt Breida to put up an insurmountable lead after the break. The Saints finally managed to get on the board but it was all too late as the Bills ran out comfortable winners, still showing aggression late in the fourth quarter – Allen to Diggs, is there any better sight?

 

 

Buffalo Bills

 

Quarterback

 

Josh Allen: 23/28, 260 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, 2 sacks | 8 carries, 43 yards

 

After a difficult outing against the Colts, Josh Allen came out of the gate with an impressive 10-play, 65-yard drive that ended in a familiar connection – a touchdown pass to tight end Dawson Knox. Knox doing brilliantly to haul in a low pass and fight for the end zone.

 

 

Much like last week, however, the offense then struggled to recreate that momentum settling for a field goal on their next drive and failing to take advantage of great starting field position. Clearly frustrated, Allen then forced a ball in the direction of Stefon Diggs on second down but Bradley Roby was waiting to take the ball away for the turnover.

 

 

Allen turned the ball over again just before the half, albeit on a tipped ball. Allen found Knox once again in the end zone on a broken play but the touchdown was negated by a penalty for an offensive lineman illegally downfield. On the very next play, Allen held onto the ball for too long and Curtis Granderson, who ran rings around tackle Dion Dawkins all night, got his hand on the ball sending it spiraling into the arms of K’won Alexander, who made a terrific play to secure the ball for the interception.

 

 

Like all great quarterbacks, Allen responded by coming out and dominating the second half with some sharp passing and smart decision-making. Allen led touchdown drives on three of the first four possessions after the break, including a game-deciding screen to Matt Breida on 3rd-and-10 from just outside the red zone. It was that kind of outing in the second half, with Allen showing restraint in forcing throws and instead trusting his weapons to make plays on the back of Daboll’s excellent play calling.

 

 

Running Backs

 

Devin Singletary: 15 carries, 44 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards

Matt Breida: 9 carries, 26 yards | 2 targets, 2 reception, 29 yards, TD

 

Brian Daboll has added a few new dimensions to this offense in recent weeks, one being the pitch out to Matt Breida out of the backfield which we saw early in this game. Breida is carving out a role in this offense, and he touched the ball four times in the opening touchdown drive, showing a burst through the middle that the team had been lacking to move the chains recently.

 

 

It became clear in the first half that Breida was being given an opportunity as the lead back for this offense. He ran eight times for 28 yards in the half but then disappeared in favor of Devin Singletary after the break.

Singletary ran beautifully on the touchdown drive to open the second half, gaining 34 yards on five touches including a couple of tough runs to setup the Bills in the red zone. This first run straight up the middle relied on his balance and ability to keep his legs driving after contact.

 

 

On the second run, Singletary shows a couple of nice changes of direction before ploughing into the tackle and keeping his legs driving once more to get the first and goal.

 

 

Breida and Singletary then shared touches for the rest of the game as the Bills dominated through the air. Breida was the beneficiary of a screen pass in the fourth quarter that he took to the house thanks to some good blocking out front. A nice fantasy day for the unheralded back who has endured a rough few years.

It looks like the end of the road for Zack Moss in this offense – the former 2020 third-round pick was a healthy scratch for this game.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Stefon Diggs: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 74 yards, TD

Gabriel Davis: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 47 yards

Cole Beasley: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 46 yards

Dawson Knox: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 32 yards, 2 TD

Emmanuel Sanders: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 28 yards

 

Stefon Diggs showed why he is one of the best receivers in the NFL with a masterful performance to outwit Marshon Lattimore with his route running ability. Diggs was a handful all night, drawing a pass interference penalty before connecting with his quarterback in the end zone a few plays later to extend his team’s lead to 17-0. The Bills opened up the second half with a 10-play, 75-yard drive, that Diggs topped off with a wonderful move to lose Lattimore for the score.

 

 

Diggs burned the Saints secondary once again with a big play in the fourth quarter that setup the Breida score. Despite the troubles of this offense recently, Diggs has managed to accumulate over 250 yards and four touchdowns in his last three games. Elite.

After an electric start to the season, Emmanuel Sanders has gone frightfully cold – the former Denver veteran failing to muster more than 28 yards in the last three games. He made a great adjustment on the final drive of the first half to haul in a lovely back shoulder throw from Allen.

 

 

Dawson Knox continues to be a top target for Allen in the red zone and his impact performances have become a regular feature for this offense. He was unlucky to have a score taken away by penalty in the first half, however he made up for it after the break. Knox put an ankle-snapping move on Lattimore to take a hard play-action pass on 4th-and-2 from Allen in for six to settle this game late in the third quarter. It was Knox’s second multiple-touchdown game of the year. He now has seven scores, a healthy total for the emerging tight end.

 

 

Gabriel Davis and Cole Beasley both fulfilled their important, functional roles to perfection, combining for 93 yards on seven catches.

 

New Orleans Saints

 

Quarterback

 

Trevor Siemian: 17/29, 163 yards, TD, INT, 2 sacks | 3 carries, 3 yards

 

The dreadful performance of the Saints offense in the first half needs a descriptive word to give it meaning. How about we go for dire! Every drive was disastrous in some form, with Trevor Siemian unable to complete a pass for more than 14 yards, completing just 7-of-13 for 68 yards.

It wasn’t much better after the break, with Siemian missing receivers and failing to find any rhythm on the first drive. He did throw a touchdown pass to backup tight end Nick Vannett when down 24-0. The drive was aided by a roughing the passer penalty, which felt like the only way this offense was going to get anything effective going in this game.

 

 

Unable to lean on the non-existent ground game, Siemian struggled mightily against a strong defense that brought pressure all game. Even when the Bills played soft coverage later in the game, Siemian only achieved in tossing up the ball for Jordan Poyer to pick off with ease.

 

 

The Saints had just 12 first downs in the entire game and Siemian’s 4.6 yards per pass feels generous based on what these eyes just witnessed. A miserable showing only compounded by the chorus of boos ringing out around a half empty Superdome at the end of this game.

 

Running Backs

 

Tony Jones Jr.: 16 carries, 27 yards

Ty Montgomery.: 6 carries, 14 yards | 7 targets, 5 receptions, 31 yards

 

Nothing to report here. Without Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II, this running game was hard pressed to be effective against a stout Bills defense led by a dominant performance from Tremaine Edmunds up the middle. The Saints put up just 21 rushing yards going into the fourth quarter and by that time they were down by three scores.

Tony Jones Jr. was given an early fourth down attempt on the Bills’ 41-yard line but was stuffed by Mario Addison. It was a complete surprise that Taysom Hill was nowhere to be seen on this play, given his recent contract extension and his history of success in these situations. It later emerged that Hill had felt discomfort in his foot and he did not end up playing a snap in the game. Another big loss to this offense on the ground.

 

 

Ty Montgomery led the team in targets with seven, all of them dump offs and check downs late in the game as the Bills rolled out the backups. The Saints average a paltry 1.8 yards per carry. Awful.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Lil’Jordan Humphrey: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 47 yards

Tre’Quan Smith: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 31 yards

Marquez Callaway: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 24 yards

Nick Vannett: 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards, TD

Adam Prentice: 1 target, 1 reception, 10 yards

Deonte Harris: 5 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards

 

The inability of Trevor Siemian to move this offense through the air did not help this young, undermanned receiving corps. The loss of Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White in the first half with a knee injury didn’t open things up either. The Saints put up just 163 passing yards the whole game and to be honest it didn’t seem like they even put up that many.

The make matters worse for fantasy managers, the lone touchdown came from tight end Nick Vannett on only his second catch of the season. A Thanksgiving nightmare.

 

Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

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