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Bills’ pass rush dominated Patriots without Von Miller

Our first look at this season’s Von Miller-less Bills pass rush

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills suited up for their Week 13 matchup with the New England Patriots without their star pass rusher Von Miller for the first time this season. Miller was placed on Injured Reserve shortly before the Thursday Night Football game, sidelining him for a minimum of four weeks.

Offsetting the loss of Miller, the Bills saw the return of some defensive line talent agianst the Patriots. Defensive ends Greg Rousseau and A.J. Epenesa both missed time with injuries but were able to suit up for the Week 13 victory. This is our first look at a pass rush that doesn't include Von Miller, so let’s take a look at how it turned out.

Bills’ defensive line pressure up the middle

The Bills get good pressure up the middle from defensive tackle DaQuan Jones after the Patriots choose to double-team defensive tackle Ed Oliver. New England tries to block defensive end Greg Rousseau with the backside guard and Rousseau runs right through him, which causes quarterback Mac Jones to break the pocket. At the end of the play defensive end Boogie Basham draws a holding call trying to get to the scrambling QB.

Shaq Lawson forces intentional grounding

This is the best game defensive end Shaq Lawson has played all season. He looked explosive and powerful throughout the game. On this play he beats the cut block with ease and get quick pressure on the QB and causes intentional grounding. Outstanding effort by Lawson.

Rousseau isn’t fooled by play-action fake

Rousseau stays disciplined on this play. The Patriots run a play action where everyone fakes a toss play to the left and the QB bootlegs back to the right. Instead of falling for the fake, Rousseau fights back against the grain and doesn’t let the QB get to the outside on the bootleg. This causes a quick throw for no gain.

Oliver and Rousseau twist stunt

Oliver and Rousseau execute a textbook “twist” stunt on this play. Oliver fakes like he’s going to engage with the guard but then pushes outside to the tackle, and then Rousseau loops in untouched for an almost sack.

Rousseau bats Jones’ pass down

It is clear to see the Bills missed having Rousseau in the lineup the past few weeks due to injury. He’s a difference maker. He’s solid in the run game, can pressure the QB, but he can also affect passes without even getting to the QB. On this play he beats the cut block and gets his long arms in the passing lane to knock the ball down for an incompletion.

Defensive trickery

The Bills show a unique look on this play with Rousseau lined up at DT and Jordan Phillips lined up at DE. They run a line stunt where Rousseau loops outside from the opposite DT position. Ed Oliver and Rousseau end up meeting in the middle and put pressure on the QB as he’s throwing the football.

Boogie Basham coming into his own

Boogie Basham had one of his best performances this game. It’s nice to see him developing after the Bills used a second-round pick on him. On this play Basham engages his blocker and extends his arms to gain control. You can see him looking into the backfield to check if it’s a run or play action. After he realizes it is play action, he sheds his blocker and charges in for a big hit on the QB. Also, check out the pass rush by A.J. Epenesa on this play. He swipes the OT’s arms off of him and then dips his shoulder, leaving nothing for the OT to put his hands on. Solid technique by Epenesa.

Lawson explodes off the edge

Lawson isn’t known to be a speed rusher, but don’t tell him that. He shows superb explosiveness around the edge on this play and gets a QB hit as a result.

A.J. Epenesa sacks Mac Jones

This is exciting to see if yoy’re a Bills fan. A.J. Epenesa records a sack. Pay attention to how Epenesa grabs the OT’s hands and then how he uses that to pull the OT out of the way with ease. This looks so simple but is difficult to do, and is extremely effective. Epenesa has shown flashes like this throughout his career, but it would be great to see him do this with some more consistency, especially now with Von Miller out for four weeks.

Basham’s swim move

Basham shows another splendid pass rush on this play, and this time he does it from the DT position. It’s exciting to see him get quick pressure, but it would have been nice to see him get the QB down for a sack. When “swim move” is searched in google, this should be the first example shown — outstanding move.

In summary

Buffalo’s defensive line was impressive against New England and dominated the line of scrimmage all night. They will have to continue to step up until Von Miller is eligible to return in Week 17 versus the Cincinnati Bengals. Even with Miller out, the Bills appear to be deep throughout the defensive line and are able to keep fresh bodies in the game. This will give some of the younger guys more playing time and an extended chance for them to show what they can do.