One of our Monday morning rituals after a Buffalo Bills game, win or lose, is to run through the snap counts released by NFL.com to look for patterns that emerged from the latest contest. Here are the numbers from the Bills' 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens yesterday.
As we suggested might happen in our game preview on Saturday, Lee Smith played a ton as the Bills worked to not only improve in the running game, but help out their tackles against elite edge rushers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. Smith was on the field more than fellow tight end Scott Chandler; the tape will give us a better idea of how well he blocked, but he got into the act as a receiver with a 28-yard gain and a trip over the turf monster that cost the Bills a touchdown.
Frank Summers also made a return to the field of play. He logged zero snaps in the Bills' two losses, and played a significant role in the offense in both wins. Buffalo ran wild in both wins. Go figure.
This is the second straight game that Robert Woods, and not Stevie Johnson, has led Bills receivers in number of snaps played. That probably has something to do with the fact that Johnson is nursing a hamstring issue, but given the way Woods is playing right now, it bears watching.
Kyle Williams is a warrior. While the Bills limited the snaps for Marcell Dareus (ankle), Williams played virtually the entire game - even as he continues to deal with fatigue brought on by two Achilles-related surgeries.
Over the past few weeks, Manny Lawson has started to take a lot more reps on passing downs - not just as a coverage linebacker (a role he plays surprisingly well), but as an edge rusher. He recorded his first sack of the season on Sunday, and is off to a very strong start playing in Mike Pettine's system.
Another game, another huge disparity between Kiko Alonso - who has yet to miss a snap on defense this season - and the rest of the team's linebackers. We talk about Stephon Gilmore being the Bills' most invaluable defender a lot, and that certainly has merit, but Alonso may be just as important. Stay healthy (and productive), rook.
Aaron Williams had a whale of a game playing cornerback, but when he left late with a back issue, Brandon Burton came in and held his own, registering a pass break-up in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. It was the first time the Bills had let one of the cornerbacks they acquired just prior to the regular season on the field, and Burton didn't let down. We might see more of him in future weeks.
Bills head coach Doug Marrone said after the game that the plan is to move Williams back to safety whenever the option becomes available. When that happens - and when Jairus Byrd finally makes it back into the lineup - the Bills will have a ton of depth at that position. Pettine's is a safety-reliant defense, and the Bills are in very good shape there.