Report card: Bills top Saints, 31-6, on Thanksgiving

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Coming off a brutal loss in Indianapolis to the Colts, the Bills had a short week to get over their ghosts. They did just that, taking down the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome, 31-6, on Thanksgiving night.

Buffalo (7-4) dominated the Saints (5-6) exactly how they should have with New Orleans missing so many key components.

Here’s how Bills Wire graded Buffalo after the win:

Quarterback: A-

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Josh Allen threw two interceptions or you could say Josh Allen only had three passes hit the ground.

The signal-caller went 23-of-28 passing for 260 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions. His lone mistake was trying to force a pass to receiver Stefon Diggs in the second quarter, which was easily intercepted by corner Bradley Roby.

His second interception wasn’t on him nearly as much. Running back Matt Breida ran what appeared the wrong way on a screen and Allen’s arm was hit as he threw causing the ball to flutter.

Allen still finished with an incredible performance, tossing a touchdown to Diggs, two to TE Dawson Knox, and one to Breida. Seven different Bills caught a pass.

Additionally, Allen ran eight times for 43 yards.

Running back: B+

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Devin Singletary and Breida did little to separate from one another on the stat sheet.

Singletary earned the majority of carries with 15 to Breida’s nine but Breida added a touchdown reception in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.

Each was equally successful running the ball, both averaging 2.9 yards per carry. Singletary had the longest run of 15 yards and maybe the running back conundrum comes down more to the offensive line than who is actually the better player.

The Bills’ most efficient rusher remains as Allen and there’s nothing Singletary and Bredia can’t do that healthy-scratch Zack Moss does. This group will be a committee through the end of the season.

Tight End: A

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Knox continues his career year with a two-touchdown performance that could’ve been three if not for an offensive lineman being too far down the field.

Knox locked in with three catches for 32 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown was from seven yards out to put Buffalo on the board 7-0 and his second was on a leak play where he was left wide open and walked in from 24 yards out.

Knox now has the single-season record for touchdowns by a Bills tight end at seven. With six games to go, there’s a good chance he’ll hit double digits in the category.

Wide Receiver: A

Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Bills’ have gotten back to what made the offense cook in 2020. Pepper Diggs with targets and the other four out there with him get their catches as the game goes on.

This week, Diggs had seven receptions on nine targets for 74 yards and a touchdown. That’s a 35% target share. Last week against the Colts, Diggs was targeted just six times or 15%.

Going back to Week 10 against the Jets, Diggs was targeted 13 times or 46% of the time. They won each matchup when Diggs is the main target on offense.

Helping Diggs was Gabriel Davis with two catches for 47 yards, Cole Beasley with five catches for 46 yards, and Emmanuel Sanders with three catches for 28 yards against his former team.

Offensive Line: C+

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Well, it wasn’t their worst performance.

Still, the run game wasn’t overall successful and Allen was taking hits all night so it’s hard to call it a victory for the guys out there.

Dion Dawkins, Ike Boettger, Mitch Morse, Cody Ford, and Daryl Williams were the starting five. Ford left the game with an arm injury and was replaced by Ryan Bates, who was replaced by Jamil Douglas when he went down with an injury. Spencer Brown remained out, Bobby Hart was inactive.

Allen was sacked twice and the Saints had three quarterback hits. Dawkins had a noticeably poor performance against Saints pass rusher Carl Granderson, who had two tackles for a loss and a sack.

Defensive Line: A

Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Bills’ defensive line produced nothing against the Colts. That wouldn’t remain true against the Saints.

The Saints were without star right tackle Ryan Ramczyk and their top two running backs. The Bills had no trouble corralling what was left off the Saints medical table.

Defensive tackle Ed Oliver was a monster with four tackles, half a sack, a pass defense, and two quarterback hits. Pass rusher Mario Addison had a sack, two tackles for loss, and one quarterback hit. Brandin Bryand and Efe Obada had QB hits as well.

The Saints averaged 1.8 yards per rush on 25 attempts.

Linebacker: A-

(AP Photo/John Amis)

A healthy Tremaine Edmunds was back after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. He and Matt Milano led the Bills’ defense with eight tackles apiece.

Milano added a tackle for loss to his stat line.

The Bills let Tyrel Dodson get frequent run on defense. Andre Smith and A.J. Klein each entered as the game got farther and farther away. It was the most linebackers Buffalo used in a game this season.

The Saints offense had one breakthrough with Nick Van Exel scoring a touchdown in the early fourth quarter but this unit was solid along with the rest of the defense.

Secondary: A+

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

The secondary gave Trevor Siemian fits. The Saints quarterback completed 17-of-29 passes for 163 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Jordan Poyer was the lucky recipient of the Siemian duck.

The secondary remains the Bills’ best group on defense but they’ll need to step up in the absence of Tre’Davious White who is feared to have suffered a serious knee injury. We’ll know more about his status in the next few days.

Dane Jackson stepped in for White which as Sean McDermott so eloquently said he “played well.” Outside of Jackson, the Bills’ only other outside corners are Cam Lewis and Damar Hamlin who were both inactive.

Special Teams: A-

(AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

There’s a new kick returner in town. Rookie wide receiver Marquez Stevenson took over Isaiah McKenzie’s role, returning five punts on Thursday.

Stevenson averaged 9.8 yards per punt return with a long of 18 yards. He muffed one punt but recovered the ball himself. He did not have an opportunity to return a kickoff.

McDermott said postgame McKenzie being inactive was his decision and not a medical one.

Tyler Bass hit his lone field goal attempt from 34 yards away and went 4-for-4 on extra points. Matt Haack punted three times with two landing inside the 20. The Bills committed zero penalties on special teams.

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