After two weeks of heartbreaking losses and unfavorable Next Gen Stats (NGS), the Buffalo Bills got back on track with a 31-23 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
How the Bills’ players fared in their victory over the Browns
Buffalo’s running game was arguably its best of the season, and it kept the Browns’ defense guessing throughout the game.
Rookie running back James Cook had his best game yet totaling 86 yards on 11 carries (+32 yards more than expected).
According to NGS, he logged only 25% of snaps and ran against a stacked box on nearly half of his carries (45.45%), but he still outgained expectations on 54.5% of his carries.
Meanwhile, Devin Singletary gained the same amount of yards while carrying the ball seven more times and taking +47% more snaps.
Last week’s stats did not favor the Bills, emphasizing how dominant Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson was and how bad quarterback Josh Allen was at times.
Allen wasn’t asked to do much against the Browns, completing just 18-of-27 passes for 197 yards and one touchdown, but he did connect with tight end Dawson Knox seven times for a career-high 70 yards. Knox had the most separation of any receiver, according to NGS, averaging 6.5 yards.
On defense, the Bills did an excellent job of limiting Browns running back Nick Chubb to just 14 carries for 19 yards, but they struggled noticeably against wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Cooper caught four of seven targets for 71 yards and two touchdowns, with a 50.3% air yards share—his fourth game this season in which he accounted for more than half of his team’s air yards.
The Bills made an effort to keep him close, as he only had 1.5 yards of separation on average (fourth-lowest), but he still managed to haul in two touchdowns, one of which had a 19.4% completion probability. His fourth-quarter touchdown catch was the fourth-most unlikely of the week and the 20th-most this season.
Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett was the one throwing long balls to Cooper all game, throwing for 324 yards and three touchdowns.
According to NGS, despite throwing the ball into tight windows at the highest rate (24.4% of his attempts), he still completed 68.3% of his passes (+11.2% higher than expected)—tied for fifth-best in Week 11.