How ‘bout them Buffalo Bills, huh? After a rough start to the season, the Bills find themselves back atop the AFC East with a 3-1 record by dismantling the high-powered Miami Dolphins, 48-20, on Sunday in Orchard Park, NY. The hype surrounding this matchup was very real and many media outlets and “analysts” were rolling with Miami to come into Buffalo and build off of its dominant 70-point Week 3 performance.
Quarterback Josh Allen and the Bills, however, had other plans. The Bills won in all three phases of the game and simply came better prepared for the divisional matchup. There are very few things to complain about from this game because the coaching, offense and defense were in sync with each other from the first whistle to the last.
As always, let’s dive into the snap counts for the Bills-Dolphins matchup and see what changes employed by head coach Sean McDermott both defensively and offensively made the difference in the end to secure a 28-point victory against a team that had just put up a 70-burger the week before.
Bills offensive snap counts (58 snaps)
No surprise here, folks. The right side of the offensive line remains fully protected by both guard O’Cyrus Torrence (100%) and tackle Spencer Brown (100%), who haven’t missed a single offensive snap this season. Yes, you read that right. The best ability is availability! Compared to previous seasons, watching quarterback Josh Allen have time to go through his progressions and not get swallowed up instantly is so refreshing. He was sacked twice and hit only three times on Sunday, and is only being pressured 12.4% of the time per dropback on the season.
Due to blowouts in three straight games, Allen (86%) continues to sit out during the fourth quarter. It was well deserved, though, as he finished the game with five total touchdowns, nearly 350 total yards and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. As much as Allen dominated, he couldn’t just celebrate himself and had to get wide receivers Stefon Diggs (76%) and Gabe Davis (72%) involved in the fun. Davis hauled in three balls for 61 yards and the first touchdown of the game while Diggs was unstoppable all game — hauling in six of his seven targets for 120 yards and three touchdowns. It marks Diggs’ third 100-yard receiving game already this season.
Buffalo’s running game led by running back James Cook (40%) has been humming to start the season, but Miami shut it down for the most part. Cook totaled 12 carries for 29 yards (2.4 yards per carry) but running backs Latavius Murray (33%) and Damien Harris (28%) averaged over 4.5 yards per carry, evening out the lack of rushing production. Nonetheless, this felt like the 2022 Bills offense. There wasn’t much of a need to run the ball when Allen was as efficient as he was through the air.
One last very important thing to note: tight end Dalton Kincaid (52%) out-snapped tight end Dawson Knox (50%). Granted, it was just a one-snap difference, but this is promising. Kincaid caught four of five targets for 27 yards and it felt like the Bills were making it a point to get him involved as early as possible. I’d personally like to see some different routes added to his route tree rather than just flat or slant routes eventually, though.
Bills defensive snap counts (65 snaps)
That’s now three consecutive weeks of defensive dominance. Yes, the Dolphins scored 20 points and looked very sharp in the first half, but holding a high-powered team like that to just 20 points is impressive work. Coming into Week 4, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was rarely pressured because he got the ball out so quickly, but Buffalo created the blueprint to slow Miami down. Tagovailoa was sacked just ONCE through the first three weeks... can you guess how many times Buffalo got to him, though? Four times. Led by defensive end Greg Rousseau (57%) with two sacks, two tackles for loss and a pass deflection, the Bills’ defense wreaked havoc. Defensive tackles DaQuan Jones (55%) and Ed Oliver (71%) dominated Miami’s interior line — each getting to Tagovailoa in the backfield once.
Now onto the rest of the defense. Let’s start with the coveted linebacker duo comprised of Matt Milano (100%) and Terrel Bernard (100%) — who continue to just show out every week. Per usual, Milano was all over the place. He led the team in tackles, forced a fumble and applied a ton of pressure on his linebacker blitzes. Bernard, of course, made himself noticeable again, recovering Milano’s forced fumble and making plays in the middle of the field. With Jordan Poyer sidelined, safety Taylor Rapp (100%) stepped up in his absence and did a great job. While both safeties were in deep coverage essentially the whole game, Micah Hyde (100%) showcased his ballhawk abilities by picking off Tagovailoa in the third quarter.
I’d expect Poyer to be available next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars but Rapp proved he can step up in his absence when his name is called. Cornerback Tre’Davious White (Achilles) is expected to have torn his Achilles, which will end his season. It’s an absolute gut punch. Why did it have to be Tre, man? Best of luck to him in his recovery process.
Bills special teams snap counts (28 snaps)
- 26 snaps (93%): TE Quintin Morris, FB Reggie Gilliam
- 20 snaps (71%): LB Tyrel Dodson, LB Tyler Matakevich, CB Cam Lewis, CB Siran Neal
- 18 snaps (64%): SS Damar Hamlin, LB Dorian Williams
- 17 snaps (61%): K Tyler Bass
- 11 snaps (39%): WR Trent Sherfield
- 10 snaps (36%): P Sam Martin, LS Reid Ferguson
- 9 snaps (32%): DE Kingsley Jonathan
- 8 snaps (29%): G O’Cyrus Torrence, G Connor McGovern, T Spencer Brown, T Dion Dawkins, G David Edwards, C Ryan Bates
- 6 snaps (21%): CB Dane Jackson
- 4 snaps (14%): CB Christian Benford, RB Damien Harris, WR Khalil Shakir
- 3 snaps (11%): WR Deonte Harty
- 2 snaps (7%): FS Micah Hyde, SS Taylor Rapp, LB Terrel Bernard, DE Greg Rousseau, DT DaQuan Jones, DE Shaq Lawson, DT Tim Settle
Per usual, there isn’t much to say about the special teams. While I would have preferred to just kick the ball out of the end zone against return specialist Braxton Berrios, the special teams unit contained him enough. Kicker Tyler Bass (61%) is still perfect on extra points and field goals this season — further proving he’s one of the best kickers in the league at this point.
Cornerback Dane Jackson (21%) has had his special teams snaps increase as the season has progressed but with White likely done for the season, he’ll slide into the CB2 spot now. It will be interesting to see how Buffalo handles cornerback Kaiir Elam, who’s been a game day inactive through four weeks. Last season, Elam/Benford/Jackson all essentially split reps but that was when Leslie Frazier was defensive coordinator. While Deonte Harty (11%) hasn’t been able to showcase his speed, his focus on running north and south is refreshing enough for me, especially because of the fumble issues from last season.