The Buffalo Bills are 10-3, atop both the AFC East and the conference, after beating the New York Jets in Week 14. Buffalo now has a four-game winning streak, and a 2-2 divisional record after dropping their first two games to the Miami Dolphins in Week 3 and Jets in Week 9 — with a chance to make it 3-2 next week when Miami travels to Orchard Park, NY.
Although the majority of the game was ugly, Buffalo got the job done against a physical and elite defense. The Bills’ defense stepped up without the presence of edge rusher Von Miller (torn ACL), and despite the offensive struggles in the first half, quarterback Josh Allen and company put points on the board when it mattered.
Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (shoulder) and fullback Reggie Gilliam (ankle) were ruled out on Friday ahead of the game, with both linebacker Matt Milano and tackle Dion Dawkins suiting up despite being labeled questionable and logging practices in limited fashion all week.
Let’s take a look at Week 14’s snap counts to see what Buffalo did differently this time around as opposed to the loss in Week 9.
Bills offense snap counts (59 snaps)
It was nice to see Dawkins return to the lineup and log every offensive snap, even though he had multiple holding penalties called on him, which cost the Bills momentum. The offensive line has looked out of sync recently, considering Allen was practically running for his life nearly every play. Right guard Ryan Bates left the game early with an ankle injury, resulting in Greg Van Roten (32%) coming in to replace him. Despite the Bills barely running the ball yet again, the offensive line looked solid on running downs.
Considering Allen led the Bills in rushing with 47 yards, it’s safe to assume running backs Devin Singletary and James Cook had days to forget. Singletary logged his lowest snap-count total of the season at 29 snaps, with Cook not too far behind at 24. The Jets’ defense didn’t make it any easier on the Bills’ potential running game, but they didn’t even try to establish it at any point in the game.
Tight end Dawson Knox (86%) logged the second-most snaps out of any pass-catcher, only behind wide receiver Gabe Davis (92%), and had himself a memorable day. Allen and the offense weren’t able to generate much of a passing game — which explains the low yardage totals and points — but Knox caught 4-of-7 targets for 41 yards, including a touchdown right before the end of the first half. The majority of the Bills’ pass-catchers had very unproductive games, including Stefon Diggs (78%), who posted his worst game of the season, catching just three balls for 37 yards — with one of those receptions being a 32-yarder.
Bills defense snap counts (74 snaps)
Seven defensive players logged 100% of snaps, including cornerback Tre’Davious White. It’s very promising to see White get back fully into the mix of things and log every single defensive snap. A head-scratcher from Week 13 was the healthy scratch of rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam and the start of veteran Xavier Rhodes, but it was the opposite this week. Despite being declared active, however, Elam didn’t log a single snap. What’s going on here?
The linebacker duo comprised of Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano struck again — with both logging every snap and making plays all over the field. Milano totaled nine tackles, one tackle for a loss, one fumble recovery, one QB hit, and two pass deflections. The obvious boost this defense has when both of these guys are on the field at the same time will be instrumental to the unit’s success in the playoffs, when good defense really matters.
The biggest question mark heading into this matchup, and rest of the season, was if the Bills’ pass rush can still generate viable pressure without Miller. Edge rusher Greg Rousseau (59%) stepped up in a huge way, totaling two sacks, a forced fumble and a pass deflection. The interior of the defensive line wasn’t able to generate much pressure outside of defensive tackle DaQuan Jones generating two QB hits, but it allowed defensive ends A.J Epenesa (49%) and Shaq Lawson (53%) to win their battles and get to quarterback Mike White more often.
Bills special teams snap counts (30 snaps)
- 27 snaps, 90%: TE Quintin Morris
- 26 snaps, 87%: LB Tyler Matakevich, RB Taiwan Jones
- 25 snaps, 83%: LB Tyrel Dodson
- 24 snaps, 80%: LB Terrell Bernard, S Jaquan Johnson, CB Siran Neal
- 23 snaps, 77%: LB A.J Klein
- Others: TE Tommy Sweeney (21 snaps, CB Cam Lewis (15 snaps, 50%), P Sam Martin (13 snaps, 43%), RB Nyheim Hines (10 snaps, 33%), K Tyler Bass (9 snaps, 30%)
The special teams certainly benefitted by having tight end Quintin Morris (90%) back in the lineup, as he overtook his normal snap-count leader role again. Running back Nyheim Hines (33%) had a few returns that looked like he had a chance to take it to the house, making the trade feel a little bit better even though he remains a non-factor in the offense. Considering there were a ton of ball-security issues before he joined the team, the trade was still a net positive.
The Bills punted on their first five possessions of the game. Punter Sam Martin (43%) punted eight times, and had one of them blocked late resulting in a safety, but he was on the money for the majority of the afternoon. Kicker Tyler Bass continued to come up clutch when the Bills needed points, drilling both of his attempts and bringing his streak of consecutive field goals made to 15.