Despite being favored by a whopping 14 points and facing backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the Buffalo Bills barely squeaked out a 14-9 win over the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. Buffalo improved its record to 4-2 but let’s be honest, victory Monday doesn’t have the same sort of buzz normally felt after a Bills win.
While no one likes hearing it, Buffalo didn't deserve to win last night’s game whatsoever. They committed two turnovers and were outgained on the ground and through the air by the NFL’s worst offense — and by a wide margin in terms of offensive DVOA (-39.1%). It was ugly from the first whistle to the last and, frankly, we should be thankful it's over so we can move on and plan to completely burn this game from memory.
Coming into the game, both cornerback Dane Jackson (foot) and tight end Dalton Kincaid (concussion) were ruled out, opening up opportunities for cornerback Kaiir Elam and tight end Quintin Morris to step up. On the Giants’ sideline was a laundry list of injuries, particularly to their offensive line and starting quarterback Daniel Jones (neck).
As always, let’s dive into the Week 6 snap counts from the Bills-Giants Week 6 matchup and try to pinpoint what differences ended up negatively affecting Buffalo’s success to more easily run away with a win against an inferior opponent.
Bills offensive snap counts (61 snaps)
Buffalo’s offense makes me genuinely sick to my stomach sometimes. The Bills’ six first-half drives resulted in the following: three-and-out, fumble by wide receiver Gabe Davis (89%), punt, missed field goal, and interception thrown by quarterback Josh Allen (97%). Not ideal. As a result of the awful offensive game plan against the fifth-worst defense in the league (12.1% defensive DVOA), the Bills snapped a streak of 60 straight halves with a point — their longest streak in franchise history. Oh right, and quarterback Josh Allen injured his throwing shoulder but the scans came back “normal,” per head coach Sean McDermott.
The Bills streak of 60 straight halves with a point was snapped in the 1st half vs the Giants. According to @EliasSports, that was their longest streak in franchise history. pic.twitter.com/raCtnWCvr9— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 16, 2023
This game was chippy from the start and it resulted in a ton of jawing back and forth between the Bills’ offensive line and the Giants’ defensive line. Thankfully, Buffalo didn’t completely shut down on offense, as the offensive line allowed just one QB hit, two tackles for loss, and zero sacks. Right tackle Spencer Brown (95%) was pushed and shoved multiple times during a post-play scuffle and ended up injuring his knee — something to monitor this week along with Allen’s shoulder.
In vintage fashion, offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and the Bills seemingly gave up on the run game until the second half. It’s funny how that works, right? Once the Bills started running the ball, the offense opened up a bit more. Running backs James Cook and Latavius Murray (49%) had a perfect 50-50 split, but Cook was the most efficient back (unsurprisingly), recording 14 carries for 71 yards. Running back Damien Harris (2%) played just one snap before taking a tough hit to the neck area that required him being transported to a hospital for further evaluation.
The “Stefon Diggs is unhappy” crowd can quiet down at this point. In a game where nothing seemed to be working, Allen just looked for wide receiver Stefon Diggs (93%) early and often. Diggs hauled in 10-of-16 targets for 100 yards — marking his fifth overall and fourth-straight 100-yard receiving game already this season. He was targeted more (16) than all of Buffalo’s pass-catchers combined (13). Davis (89%) was presumably placed in the doghouse after his fumble and was out-snapped by Diggs for only the second time this season. Tight end Dawson Knox (75%) returned to his usual TE1 duties with Kincaid sidelined, but tight end Quintin Morris (30%) deserves some flowers for hauling in his first target of the season for the Bills’ second and eventual game-winning touchdown of the game.
Bills defensive snap counts (77 snaps)
Injuries have decimated the backbone of Buffalo’s defense already this season, but the next-man-up mentality remains strong within the culture built by head coach Sean McDermott. With Jackson sidelined by a foot injury, cornerback Kaiir Elam (100%) played every CB2 snap with Christian Benford (100%) on the other side. One of these is not like the other, however, as Benford showed why he’s the starting cornerback while Elam was consistently targeted, repeatedly flagged, and found himself bested on crucial downs. I’m now ready to admit this was a full-blown swing and a miss by general manager Brandon Beane and company.
Shoutout to nickel cornerback Taron Johnson (95%), who finished the game with a team-high 15 total tackles and didn’t get called for pass interference on the last play of the game — The later of which is for certain a controversial topic that will be discussed all week by the national media.
It’s becoming clear why McDermott didn't have linebacker Dorian Williams (84%) learn the MIKE position during training camp and preseason. That’s because he’s been impressive in limited action thus far alongside Terrel Bernard, as the team’s SAM ‘backer. He’s still ramping up and missed quite a few tackles last week and in Week 6 (against Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne, and Giants running back Saquon Barkley, respectively) but the linebacker room is a promising group to keep an eye on as the season progresses. Most of Bills Mafia probably didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel once linebacker Matt Milano fell to injury, but Williams is steadily convincing people. Buffalo’s linebacker duo combined for 22 total tackles, three tackles for loss, and one QB hit.
Due to the amount of injuries to New York’s offensive line, I was expecting the Bills’ pass rush to get home multiple times and wreak havoc behind the line of scrimmage. Edge rusher Von Miller (35%) had his snap count increased slightly this week, but he was relatively quiet. It appears as though Miller’s playing in quicksand, and it’s clear that he has a ways to go before making a full return to the defense. Luckily, the rest of the pass rush brought the pressure all game. Defensive tackles Ed Oliver (87%) and Jordan Phillips (48%) clogged the interior rushing lanes while defensive ends Greg Rousseau (70%), Leonard Floyd (58%) and A.J. Epenesa (27%) wreaked havoc off of the edge.
In total, the defense recorded nine tackles for loss, five QB hits, three sacks and two pass deflections.
Bills special teams snap counts (21 snaps)
- 18 snaps (86%): FB Reggie Gilliam
- 17 snaps (81%): CB Siran Neal, LB Tyrel Dodson, LB Tyler Matakevich
- 14 snaps (67%): DE Kingsley Jonathan, SS Taylor Rapp, LB Baylon Spector
- 13 snaps (62%): CB Ja’Marcus Ingram
- 12 snaps (57%): TE Quintin Morris
- 7 snaps (33%): WR Khalil Shakir, P Sam Martin, K Tyler Bass, LS Reid Ferguson
- 6 snaps (29%): WR Trent Sherfield, CB Christian Benford
- 4 snaps (19%): G O’Cyrus Torrence, G Connor McGovern, T Dion Dawkins, G David Edwards, C Ryan Bates, WR Deonte Harty
- 3 snaps (14%): CB Cam Lewis, DE Shaq Lawson, DE A.J. Epenesa, DT Tim Settle, DT Poona Ford, FS Micah Hyde, SS Jordan Poyer, T Ryan Van Demark, RB Damien Harris
- 2 snaps (10%): LB Terrel Bernard
- 1 snap (5%): T Spencer Brown
I’m not sure if it’s just me being overly negative, but the Bills’ punt-return team looks very bad at times. Every time wide receiver Deonte Harty (19%) fields a punt, the opposing team’s gunners are all over him almost instantly, and he has had next to nowhere to run with the ball to make a play. Also, since we’re on this topic at the moment... Why doesn’t kicker Tyler Bass (33%) kick the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs anymore?
Much like the rest of the squad, Bass was just a bit off. He entered Week 6 perfect — making all 27/27 of his field goal and extra point attempts — but missed two 50-plus-yard field goals, including one with under two minutes to play in regulation to increase the lead to eight points instead of five.
On a positive note, linebacker Baylon Spector (67%) suited up for the first time this season and logged 14 special teams snaps. It’s unknown whether or not he’ll be featured defensively at any point this season, but considering Williams moved into a full-time defensive role on Sunday night, I’d be willing to bet Spector becomes a full-time special teams leader as the season progresses.