The 2022 NFL season kicked off the right way for the Buffalo Bills as they controlled the Los Angeles Rams in their 31-10 win. Let’s take a closer look at how the Bills specifically dominated the first half of action despite three turnovers and the 10-10 score heading into halftime.
One of the key signs of domination on a football field is when your players who aren’t supposed to win a matchup do win. Here we have running back Devin Singletary coming out to chip block linebacker Leonard Floyd, one of the better EDGE rushers in the NFL. Normally during a chip block, you just knock the pass rusher off their path to slow them down. Singletary goes above and beyond here. Not only does he slow down Floyd on his chip block, but he pancakes him to the ground. Under no circumstances do you ever expect a RB to put one of the better EDGE rushers in the league on the ground from a chip block. When this does happen though look out.
Here’s backup defensive tackle Tim Settle going against Rams starting guard David Edwards. When you have a matchup like this you expect a team’s starter to dominate the backup. Edwards is tasked with moving Settle off the ball on this run play to the left side. As Settle and Edwards make initial contact not only does Edwards affect zero movement, Settle actually pushes him back. Settle then goes on to shed Edwards’s block and make the tackle on RB Darrell Henderson Jr. When a backup defensive lineman is working a first-string offensive linemen like that in the run game, there are going to be big problems for the opposing team.
One of the clearest signs of domination for any defensive line is the ability to regularly get pressure without blitzing. When you can pressure the opposing quarterback with four and drop everyone else in coverage, it creates less windows for the QB to throw while speeding up his process with pressure. It’s the best of both worlds. We saw the Bills get pressure on Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford regularly without blitzing, to the total of seven sacks. Here we have Stafford in shotgun. Los Angeles is in empty so it’s an obvious pass play. We see defensive tackle Jordan Phillips kill off this play by hitting a beautiful spin move on Edwards then beating him in a footrace to the QB for the sack.
These three plays were a microcosm of a game that saw the Bills near fully dominate the Rams. Even at the half with the game being “tied” 10-10, you had the feeling if the Bills cleaned up their turnovers (3) they would widen the score (which they ended up doing). The Bills essentially played the same way the first and second half. The only difference was three turnovers in the first to one in the second. This is a great reminder that dominance doesn’t always translate to score and the all-evening factor in football is the turnover.