| Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Seven games into his NFL career and Buffalo Bills placekicker Tyler Bass has already etched his name into the team record book which includes 60-plus years of achievements.
“It’s amazing,” the rookie said after he made six field goals Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium to deliver an 18-10 victory over the New York Jets. “It’s a good feeling that we won, that’s the most important thing. I know I’ve got some things to clean up, but other than that I was very proud of what happened and I’ll take it and continue to move forward.”
Bass has produced some serious drama for Bills fans in his brief tenure with the team, and Twitter was ablaze after his first miss with many asking which kickers were available to sign.
On his way to tying Steve Christie’s single-game record of six made field goals set against the Jets on Oct. 20, 1996 in the old Giants Stadium that once stood across the parking lot from the new place, he also set a team record with eight attempts because he missed twice.
The first came on Buffalo’s first possession, a 45-yarder which was part of a gruesome beginning for the Bills as they fell into a 10-0 hole. Then, after nailing four in a row to give the Bills a 12-10 lead, he missed a chip shot from 37 yards early in the fourth quarter before redeeming himself with makes from 29 and 40 yards to close out the harder than it should have been victory.
For the season, Bass has been inconsistent, to say the least. He is now a mediocre 12 of 17 on field goals with three of the misfires from inside 40 yards, though he’s been very good on extra points, making 18 of 19. To his credit, he stuck with it Sunday and that proved vital as the Bills rolled up and down the field but repeatedly failed to finish drives.
“Shout out to T-Bass for making those field goals and getting us the win,” said quarterback Josh Allen, who had a big day with 307 yards passing and 61 rushing.
Said coach Sean McDermott, “Tyler Bass had a couple of miscues, but at the end of the day made some big-time kicks in big-time moments of the game.”
Here’s how I graded the Bills’ performance:
PASS OFFENSE: A-
The fact that the Bills had nine possessions (not counting the kneeldown at the end) and did not score a touchdown against this Jets defense was disconcerting, but Allen played well after two lackluster games. He completed 30 of 43 passes for 307 yards and 16 of the 26 first downs the Bills had came via the pass. His only big mistake was losing a fumble in the red zone early in the game. He was decisive, looked confident, and he did a nice job of getting out of the pocket, keeping his eyes downfield and making throws off platform. Cole Beasley was big as he caught a career-high 11 passes on 12 targets for a career-high-tying 112 yards. It seemed like every time the Bills needed a play, Beasley was making it. He is such a key weapon for Allen because he so often gets open and gives him an outlet when he’s not the primary read. Allen had a nice TD pass to Gabriel Davis wiped out by a dumb illegal formation penalty which just can’t happen in the NFL. Stefon Diggs was oddly quiet. This seemed like a game where he could go off, but he had six catches for a harmless 46 yards. Up front, Ike Boettger stepped in at LG and the line did a pretty good job in pass protection, and there were more gaps created in the run game than we’ve seen this year.
RUN OFFENSE: B-
The Jets seem to bring out the best in Allen when it comes to running the ball. He gained 57 yards on 14 rushes in the season-opening victory and then tacked on 61 on 11 attempts in this game. It was clear that Brian Daboll wanted to get him more involved, something that had been lacking, really, since the first Jets game. Allen generally made good decisions on the read option plays, except the very last one when he should have handed off. He was stopped on third-and-2 and the Bills had to settle for another field goal and left two minutes on the clock for the Jets, not that it mattered. Zack Moss had his breakout game as he broke a 26-yard run in the fourth quarter that helped set up Bass’ fifth field goal, and he finished with a career-best 47 yards. Devin Singletary seems to still be spinning his wheels. He had only 29 yards on eight attempts, so that’s an area that has to improve. Without Allen, the Bills had only 65 yards rushing, though that was partly due to an 11-yard loss by Isaiah McKenzie on a het sweep that went horribly wrong.
PASS DEFENSE: A
This was without question the best performance of the season, and nothing else comes close. The way it started, I couldn’t imagine I’d be tying that previous sentence. The Jets moved at will on their first three possessions, drives of 67, 46 and 80 which resulted in 10 points. It could have been worse if not for the Bills stopping a fourth-and-1 run on the second series. After that, the Jets were simply overmatched. They gained 25 yards net over the final 2½ quarters including just four in the second half. Four yards! Sam Darnold made the Trevor Lawrence draft talk heat up again as he was just 12 of 23 after starting 11 of 13. He totaled 120 passing yards and was sacked six times for 29 yards in losses, plus threw two interceptions, one to rookie CB Dane Jackson and the other on a tipped pass which fell into Jerry Hughes’ arms in the final minute for his first career pick. Hughes had a great game with his pass rush, two sacks and numerous hurries and also made six tackles. Not having slot WR Jamison Crowder clearly hurt the Jets as no one really took that primary target role and Darnold looked lost on several plays where Crowder usually would have been his answer.
RUN DEFENSE: C
Ancient Frank Gore gashed the Bills for 60 yards on just 11 carries, and rookie La’Mical Perine added 39 yards as the Jets finished with a 4.5 average per carry. They would have liked to run it more, but they had the ball for only 13 minutes in the final three quarters of the game, barely over six in the second half. The defensive line played much better overall, but there continues to be an issue on some of these runs where they get pushed back too far and the linebackers and defensive backs have to make tackles downfield. The Jets had 17 first downs and nine of them came on runs by Gore or Perine, the only two players who had rushing attempts. Justin Zimmer again played over inactive Harrison Phillips and that’s probably not changing in the near future. Zimmer has given the Bills a little more stoutness in the middle. Ed Oliver continues to underwhelm as he wasn’t part of any of the six sacks and had only two tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B+
What an eventful game this was for the kicking teams. You start with Bass and the rollercoaster day he had. He has to find more consistency because sooner or later, there will be a miss that costs the Bills a game. That said, he did provide all the points, so that takes precedent. Andre Roberts got the second half off to a great start with a 58-yard kickoff return, and he also had two nice punt returns that were curtailed by penalties on Siran Neal and Taiwan Jones. Punter Corey Bojorquez had the day off as the Jets never made the Bills punt, while the kickoff coverage unit kept speedy Tyler Johnson in check as he averaged 22 yards on three returns on a day when Bass managed only three touchbacks on six kickoffs.
Give credit to the defensive staff for really getting things turned around after a bad start. One of the keys was the Bills generating a pass rush and using blitzers to do it. They knew the Jets were playing without their most productive receiver and that they could cover man-to-man, so they went after Darnold and the result was a lame passing performance from him which included six sacks taken. Sean McDermott would have been roasted had the Bills lost, but he kept his team upbeat when it fell behind 10-0, stayed disciplined in the play-calling on both sides, and eventually the better team won out. On offense, Daboll was incredibly pass-happy early, but it was when he started mixing in the run that the offense began to move effectively. Of course, the play-calling, and the execution in the red zone, was not good as the Bills went 0-for-5. Coming into the game, they had scored 17 TDs on 23 trips, a 73.9 percent success rate.
Sal Maiorana can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana.