The Buffalo Bills pulled off what many are describing as a historic upset over the Minnesota Vikings. The Josh Allen-led offense dropped 27 points on the Vikings and coasted to victory. A lights-out defense made long fields for the Vikings and some very short ones for the Bills. As shocking as this upset was, the complete domination from start to finish has many of us reeling (from joy in our cases). Let’s dive into the snap counts to see who helped contribute to this exciting Week 3 game. Data courtesy of Pro Football Reference.
Offense (67 snaps)
Russell Bodine left the lineup for nine snaps, replaced by Ryan Groy. Reportedly this was due to cramping and Bodine returned to the lineup. Vladimir Ducasse missed two snaps seemingly for a similar reason.
Zay Jones remained as the receiver with the most reps. However, he and Kelvin Benjamin both inched closer to the 60% mark this week. Charles Clay and Khari Lee seemed to be the biggest beneficiaries of the decreased receiver reps. Lee took over for Logan Thomas this week and was immediately thrust into the lineup.
Chris Ivory was the workhorse back with LeSean McCoy sitting out. Ivory was in on 54 snaps and had 20 rushing attempts. Patrick DiMarco continues to be worked into the lineup more, seeing a 50% increase in playing time compared to last week.
Defense (66 snaps)
The usual members of the 100% club had the expected snap counts. With Phillip Gaines still hurt and Vontae Davis, ahem...unavailable, the Bills elevated Ryan Lewis from the practice squad. If it weren’t for injury, Lewis also would have hit the 100% mark. Lafayette Pitts replaced Lewis on the field for twelve snaps.
Taron Johnson returned from an injury of his own and played 68% of snaps. As the primary slot corner, Johnson’s counts are a good indicator of how often the Bills use a nickel formation. Rafael Bush saw 19 snaps, which suggests some big nickel looks as well as some prevent defense.
The Bills defensive line was mostly “per usual” at around the two-thirds mark. Star Lotulelei was about half the snap count as expected, however. Trent Murphy was also a little low, but his absence was due to an ankle injury, which is hopefully not serious. Nate Orchard subbed in for Murphy. Lorenzo Alexander saw a good deal of playing time, which included pass rushing from the DT spot. The Bills seemed hellbent on taking advantage of match-ups with their pass rush which might explain Lotulelei’s smaller role this week.
Special Teams (24 snaps)
Thirty-two players saw time on special teams this week, which is actually less than usual. The top ten are in the graphic above. This group has remained mostly stable as the core. Taiwan Jones’ participation was good to see after the scary collision in Week two.
A few players had only one snap. Without looking at the film, it’s a safe guess that Charles Clay, Zay Jones, and Kelvin Benjamin were part of the hands team for Minnesota’s onside kick in the waning moments of the fourth quarter. (We saw Benjamin not be able to come up with the kick, after all.)