The Buffalo Bills advanced to the next round of the NFL playoffs after beating the Miami Dolphins in typical Bills fashion. The game was ugly and not what Bills Mafia expected, but it’s the playoffs, and the only goal is to win: it doesn’t matter how you do it! Buffalo’s on to the Cincinnati Bengals in what will be a very action-packed and emotion-filled afternoon of football.
Coming into Super Wild Card Weekend, the Bills ruled out both defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (shoulder) and wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (hamstring). Meanwhile, the Dolphins had a very banged-up offensive line, and started rookie third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson. Bills fans and the rest of the NFL world fully expected this game to be a blowout, but the Bills played down to the level of their opponent, again, rather than playing at their best.
Let’s take a look at Sunday’s playoff snap counts, and see which players made a difference.
Buffalo Bills offensive snap counts (74 snaps)
It’s nice to see a healthy offensive line, but the unit’s a liability at this point. The Dolphins sacked Allen seven times and totaled 13 QB hits and seven tackles for a loss. We’re used to Allen running for his life and extending plays, but this game felt different, and the offensive line couldn’t handle blitzes.
With McKenzie out, his snaps were split between wide receivers Cole Beasley (42%) and Khalil Shakir (41%). Both made big mistakes, but also came up with huge catches in crucial moments. It’ll be interesting to see how the snap counts look if McKenzie returns next week. For the first time all season — in which both receivers were healthy — Stefon Diggs out-snapped Gabe Davis, 59 to 56, respectively. Both receivers eclipsed 100 yards receiving and accounted for over half of Allen’s yardage total — something the Bills will need consistently to keep up with the remaining high-powered AFC offenses.
Running back James Cook out-snapped Devin Singletary last week, but it didn’t last very long, as Singletary led the charge this week, nearly doubling Cook’s total. It’s worth noting that Cook found the end zone and registered more carries, but Buffalo likely prioritized the protection of Allen, which is why Singletary still ended up with more snaps.
Buffalo Bills defensive snap counts (71 snaps)
The Bills’ secondary has had its fair share of struggles throughout the season. But dare I say it — is cornerback Tre’Davious White (100%) back? His struggles since returning from an ACL injury were noticeable, but he made a lot of plays that proved why he’s one of the best in the league when healthy. Safety Dean Marlowe (100%) had big shoes to fill, and came up with the first of two interceptions thrown by Thompson.
Cornerbacks Dane Jackson (38%) and Kaiir Elam (62%) split reps, but an injury to Jackson opened the door for Elam to make his presence known. He certainly did that and more, all while guarding Tyreek Hill the majority of the time — coming up with an interception and the game-clinching pass breakup on fourth down.
Where would this defense be without the linebacker duo of Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano? Both players made countless huge plays for the defense, and their availability and production will be instrumental to Buffalo’s success throughout the playoffs. The pair combined for two sacks, three quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, and 15 total tackles.
The pass rush totaled 11 quarterback hits and four sacks, but it’s obvious the Bills are severely missing Von Miller right now. The stats look good on paper, but Buffalo will need to build off this and bring even more heat into next week’s game against Cincinnati. Edge rusher Boogie Basham (49%) posted the best game of his career, totaling one sack, one tackle for loss, and two quarterback hits, while edge rusher Greg Rousseau (58%) was nearly non-existent.
Buffalo Bills special teams snaps (36 snaps)
- 31 snaps, 86%: TE Quintin Morris, FB Reggie Gilliam
- 30 snaps, 83%: CB Siran Neal, RB Taiwan Jones, LB Tyrel Dodson, LB Tyler Matakevich
- Others: LB Terrel Bernard, S Jaquan Johnson (20 snaps, 69%) — CB Cam Lewis (20 snaps, 56%) — RB Nyheim Hines, K Tyler Bass (13 snaps, 36%)
After a historic performance last week, kick returner Nyheim Hines (36%) didn’t take any kick returns to the house against Miami. He picked up solid yards on the majority of his returns, but muffed a punt on the wrong end of the momentum shift that was thankfully recovered by linebacker Tyrel Dodson (83%).
To be fair, the special teams wasn’t as good it usually is. Kicker Tyler Bass (36%) shanked a kickoff that gave Miami good starting field position, and if not for punter Sam Martin, Miami would’ve added another seven points on the board from a punt return. It’s only a few negatives, compared to way more positives, but I don’t think the Bills could’ve afforded another negative and still come out on top with the win.