It wasn’t always pretty, but then again no one thought it was going to be. And to be clear, while the Buffalo Bills didn’t play their best game, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers who had the ugliest duckling. A couple injury scares impacted this week’s snap counts, but let’s check in for Day 1 of the playoff-clinching celebration week.
Offense (65 snaps)
It’s always great to see a Jordan Poyer snap on offense as it means it was a kneel down. In this case, to close a victory that ensured at least the five seed in the playoffs.
The 100% club was mostly intact. Josh Allen, Dion Dawkins, Cody Ford, Quinton Spain, and Mitch Morse all made the cut. Jon Feliciano exited temporarily due to cramps, but came back out to play later in the game. Spencer Long took his place for seven reps.
John Brown remains at the top for the receivers. He’s followed by Cole Beasley and Isaiah McKenzie as usual, but both saw large drops in playing time. Beasley went from 97% last week to 69% last night. McKenzie fell to 46% from 72%. Andre Roberts rounds out the group.
It seemed like Devin Singletary vanished after a late fumble, but he still handily outpaced Frank Gore. The rotation for the last couple weeks though has been 4:1, so this game does represent a slight shift back to Gore.
Dawson Knox has been the man at tight end for quite some time but shared the day with Lee Smith, both at 48%. Tyler Kroft was a distant third but I’m sure you recall he made the most out of his opportunity. It was a heavy kind of day as Patrick DiMarco saw the most snaps on offense since Week 1. If you’re wondering about Smith, you have to go back to Week 3.
Defense (59 snaps)
The 100% club for defense had an early scare when Tre’Davious White left the field in obvious pain while grasping his shoulder. Thankfully he came back into the game. The rest of the grouping of Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde, Matt Milano, and Tremaine Edmunds all hit their usual mark.
The Levi Wallace and Kevin Johnson rotation continues. The latter also subbed in for White for his one missed play. Taron Johnson was also dinged up, but returned to the game and made it to 81% of defensive snaps. As a brief reminder, T. Johnson’s snaps counts reveal the amount of nickel defense used. After a brief hiatus away from it to limit the Baltimore Ravens, the Bills went back to their typical game plan with all but 11 plays in nickel.
No surprises at defensive end as the trio of Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy, and Shaq Lawson continue to rotate with Lawson as the primary sub on both sides. At this point, all three are receiving a starting share of snaps. Darryl Johnson Jr. continues to be sprinkled in.
Ed Oliver had been hovering around 50% the last few weeks, after seeing a mid-season decrease. The 59% this week is the most he’s seen since the Tennessee Titans game. He’s followed by Jordan Phillips and Star Lotulelei. Vincent Taylor plays clean up in lieu of Corey Liuget.
Lorenzo Alexander also dealt with an injury, but rotated in as he typically does. Looking at the numbers above, Alexander played 11 linebacker reps, one at defensive end, and eight at defensive tackle.
Special teams (23 snaps)
Three players were in for 78% of special-teams snaps. Siran Neal, Julian Stanford and Senorise Perry led the way. Last week Corey Thompson was with this group, but fell to 52% against the Steelers. Also ahead of Thompson at 57% were Lorenzo Alexander, Kevin Johnson, Darryl Johnson, Robert Foster, and Kurt Coleman.