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Buffalo Bills stopped Atlanta Falcons’ last play with 10 men on field

Excellent coverage more than made up for the disadvantage.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons came close to scoring a game-winning touchdown against the Buffalo Bills yesterday, but they failed to convert a fourth-and-1 with under a minute left after an incomplete pass from Matt Ryan to Taylor Gabriel. The Bills defended the play very well - and they did it with only ten men on the field, as one eagle-eyed Twitter fan pointed out last night.

The defensive line is made up of Jerry Hughes, Cedric Thornton, Kyle Williams, and Lorenzo Alexander. Matt Milano and Preston Brown are the linebackers, and the secondary consists of Shareece Wright, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, and Tre’Davious White.

What makes that even more interesting is that the Bills were just coming out of a timeout, and they had originally lined up all 11 men on the field.

There are eight men at the line, including both Hyde and Poyer. Nickel cornerback Leonard Johnson is the middle defensive back in the picture.

WIthout knowing the play call, it’s hard to say who should have been out there. Johnson isn’t the only one who didn’t return to the field, and the Bills swapped out Ryan Davis and Jerel Worthy on the interior for Williams and Thornton.

There’s also the injury to Ramon Humber to consider. He suffered a thumb injury and played most of the second half in a cast, but he may have been being tended to by trainers at the time. If Davis was supposed to come back to allow Alexander to shift back to his linebacker spot, that would also explain things.

It’s easy to brush this one off because the Bills defended the play anyway (especially Wright, who blanketed primary target Justin Hardy on the slant to the end zone), but after two years of communication issued under Rex Ryan that culminated in an overtime loss to Miami where the Bills gave up a 53-yard run with only ten men on the field, it’s not a good look.

I’d expect the defensive staff to address that play at their earliest opportunity, and we can only hope it doesn’t happen again. Good thing the Bills won, right?