In the modern era of the National Football League, where teams gear their offenses around a high-octane passing game, the Buffalo Bills are a throwback to the NFL of yesterday. Buffalo has always taken pride in being able to run the ball, and run it well, leading the league in rushing yards per game (164.4) during the 2016 season. While the numbers have dropped off some in 2017 — Buffalo ranks eighth with 122 rushing yards per game — one of the few bright spots during Sunday’s 23-3 setback to the New England Patriots was the rushing attack.
Despite suffering their 10th straight loss to Tom Brady (not counting a 17-9 win in the 2014 regular-season finale, when Brady only played the first half), Buffalo (6-6) put up impressive numbers on the ground against New England (10-2).
Led by LeSean McCoy, the Bills averaged 7.0 yards per carry in amassing 183 rushing yards on 26 carries. McCoy had a big day toting the football, rushing 15 times for 93 yards, good for an average of 6.2 yards per carry. Displaying his textbook elusiveness and quick cut ability, McCoy broke off five runs of 10-plus yards (one was called back thanks to a holding call against Eric Wood), making the most of his touches.
McCoy was one of five Bills with a rushing attempt, and all five ball carriers averaged at least 5.5 yards per rush. Tyrod Taylor ran three times for 32 yards, with a long of 18, while Joe Webb rushed three times for 27 yards, with a long of 22 coming on a designed run out of the so-called wildcat formation.
Backup running back Travaris Cadet added four carries for 22 yards, with a long run of 12, while backup Nathan Peterman added a 9-yard scamper for the Bills ground game.
In a game where the Bills never had the lead, Buffalo did an exceptional job running the ball...even if it came against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. Through 13 weeks, the Patriots rank seventh in most rushing yards allowed per game (120.8).
A major reason for Buffalo’s sustained rushing success against the Patriots was the strong play of left tackle Dion Dawkins, who has shown plenty of progress and development over the season. Dawkins put forth another outstanding game against the Patriots, receiving a grade of 82 from Pro Football Focus, the second-highest grade on the team this week.
The Bills rolled up their seventh game with 100-plus rushing yards this year, and their 183 yards were the second-most in a game, trailing only the 190 during the season-opening win over the New York Jets.
This is the second time in three weeks that Buffalo’s running game carried the day in a blowout loss, as the Bills also rushed for 173 yards during the loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 11.