Buffalo put together an effort that was strong throughout the contest. But not all three phases. While not a team that has covered the spread often this season, Pittsburgh was behind it throughout most of the game because of a strong effort up-and-down the Bills roster.
With that, here’s Bills Wire’s report card following the team’s 31-17 Wild Card win:
Josh Allen put together a masterclass for the Bills, but truth be told, we’ve seen better passing yard totals. Alen was 21-for-30 throwing for 203 yards and he three touchdowns. It’s the 203 that’s low, but he was still excellent otherwise and the grade reflects that. His 52-yard touchdown run was something special.
Running back: A-
Cook averaged a solid 4.4 yards per carry in a game that called for carrying the ball a bit more because of the elements. The weather turned out not to be too bad, but Cook’s production was still top-notch rushing. He found no room as a receiver, though.
Wide receiver: B
The Bills receivers had a bump up in production from recent weeks. But there was no real game breaker out there.
Khalil Shakir’s incredible broken tackle for a touchdown was the best icing on the cake imaginable. Stefon Diggs wasn’t the force we’ve seen earlier this season but he was back to being a reliable target.
Gabe Davis (knee) did not play because of injury. If he can play next week and provide a deep threat, that’d be a boost.
Tight end: A
Any shortcomings from Buffalo’s receivers were easily picked up by the tight end group. For the first time this season, both Dawson Knox and Dalton Kincaid produced. Knox opened the scoring and Kincaid followed him, putting the Bills up 14-0. Both were productive blocking, too.
Offensive line: B
Pro Football Focus provided some pretty poor grades for the Bills offense live. Connor McGovern (44.8), Mitch Morse (49.2) and O’Cyrus Torrence (51.7) were three of the four lowest-graded players on offense.
But there’s no doubt the rushing game was assisted by the blocking.
Defensive line: B+
Huge props have to go to the likes of Linval Joseph and DaQuan Jones for the run stopping the Bills defense had. Leonard Floyd and Greg Rousseau were very productive off the edge, too.
Terrel Bernard was having an excellent game before an ankle injury ended his night early. He had a pair of pass deflections and recovered a fumble. The latest update is that he did not break his ankle which is a positive update.
Eventually the likes of AJ Klein had Dorian Williams had to play snaps. Buffalo’s defense still held it together. The defensive line deserves kudos there, too.
Injuries hurt the Bills here, too… but Buffalo’s secondary stepped up. Kaiir Elam was pressed into duty and after some bad plays he picked off Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the end zone. Dane Jackson had a team-high three passes defended as well.
Special teams: C-
The highlight was a bad one: Tyler Bass and his blocked kick. Not only was that awful, Sam Martin was hurt trying to recover it, probably because it was so cold out.
Making up for that was a few tough kicks converted by Bass. The snow wasn’t as heavy, but winds were at points during the game.