ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- It's not always the prettiest game when the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots play each other, but Sunday's game felt especially like an ode to the ground-and-pound era of football.
The Bills entered the game averaging the eighth-most pass attempts per game at 37.7, but one week after attempting 43 passes, quarterback Josh Allen threw the ball 18 times during their 24-21 win Sunday. Meanwhile, Buffalo's rushing attack turned in its best game of the season.
After rushing for a season-high 126 yards against the New York Jets in Week 7, Bills players felt like their ground game was getting back on track. Their optimism looked prophetic Sunday, as Buffalo set another season high with 190 rushing yards, finally taking advantage of a bottom-tier run defense (New England's run defense ranked 27th in the league entering the game) for the first time this season.
Devin Singletary and Zack Moss handled an even workload, turning in season highs with 86 and 81 yards, respectively, each on 14 carries. Moss reaped the fantasy benefits of Buffalo's big day on the ground, scoring the first two rushing touchdowns of his NFL career. Given the windy weather conditions, this was a game plan the Bills needed to execute, and they know they will need to do it again later in the season.
"We came in here with a plan. We made a statement to run the ball today," Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins said. "The Patriots had a great plan, but we just kept it personal that we were going to run the ball today."
The Bills owned the league's eighth-best rushing offense in 2019, when they averaged 128.4 yards per game. That figure had dropped dramatically to 97 yards per game entering Sunday's game -- the fourth-lowest average in the NFL.
But both teams knew the Bills would seek to establish the run, and Allen said Buffalo needed to be able to run the ball "when teams know we're going to run."
Said Moss: "They're a very good team. We needed to make sure we weren't one-dimensional. It started from Monday and our mentality working the entire week. It definitely paid off today."
So why the uptick in productivity over the past two weeks?
For starters, Moss is healthy after missing three games with a toe injury. The Bills also activated guard Jon Feliciano, who had missed the previous seven games with a torn pectoral muscle. Buffalo still isn't healthy on offense, playing its second consecutive game without left guard Cody Ford; the Bills might not be healthy next week either, as center Mitch Morse left the game in the first quarter with a concussion and did not return.
But Moss insists he and Singletary are "more than capable" of running the ball effectively, and the team's previous seven games did not reflect their ability to do so. He also credited Buffalo's offensive line for opening up ample running lanes.
"They did a great job knocking guys off the ball," Moss said. "We talked about being physical all week. They did a really good job of that. Me and [Singletary] were able to really get downhill and puncture the defense. There were very few times, if any really, that we were going backwards."
Buffalo gets an opportunity to prove its newfound run game is no fluke next week (1 p.m. ET, Fox) against a Seattle Seahawks defense that ranks eighth in the NFL against the run. Considering the Seahawks' league-worst pass defense, however, it's more likely Allen and the Bills' passing game will shoulder more of the load in Week 9.