The Buffalo Bills are in second place in the AFC East with a 4-3 overall record and 1-2 division record after losing to the New England Patriots, 29-25, on a game-winning touchdown with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Coming into Week 7, the Patriots hadn't eclipsed 20 points all season nor had quarterback Mac Jones successfully facilitated a game-winning drive since Week 5 of 2021. Both of those things happened on Sunday against Buffalo, of course. The Bills were outplayed in all three phases of the game — plain and simple.
Both defensive tackle Ed Oliver (toe) and tight end Quintin Morris (ankle) were declared inactive ahead of Sunday’s game. Some good news, however, was that both tight end Dalton Kincaid (concussion) and cornerback Dane Jackson (foot) practiced throughout the week and were able to suit up.
Let’s take a look at the Week 7 Bills-Patriots snap counts and talk position battles on both sides of the ball.
Bills offensive snap counts (71 snaps)
A major positive is that the entire starting offensive line logged every possible snap and walked out of the game unscathed. The Patriots’ pass rush and blitz game worked pretty well at times, totaling six QB hits and a sack and, quarterback Josh Allen (100%) was forced to work the quick-pass game.
With running back Damien Harris (neck) placed on Injured Reserve, practice squad running back Ty Johnson was elevated to the 53-man roster but logged just one offensive snap. The running back split between James Cook (52%) and Latavius Murray (45%) is still difficult to gauge because while Murray offers his downhill running style in the red zone, Cook is still utilized as a receiver and even caught an eight-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
In his first game back from a concussion, tight end Dalton Kincaid (61%) logged two fewer snaps than Dawson Knox (63%) and led all Bills’ pass-catchers in receptions (8) and yards (75). Both wide receiver Gabe Davis (96%) and Knox essentially did cardio on Sunday, hauling in a combined 2-of-8 targets for 16 yards. Wide receiver Khalil Shakir (34%) has logged 24 snaps in back-to-back games and seems to have propelled himself ahead of both Deonte Harty (27%) and Trent Sherfield (23%). Shakir hauled in four receptions for 35 yards and made a few key blocks, and I’d like to see this type of consistency from him moving forward.
Bills defensive snap counts (60 snaps)
Losing defensive tackle Ed Oliver’s presence in the interior line was detrimental to clogging New England’s rushing lanes and applying pressure to quarterback Mac Jones. Defensive tackles Tim Settle (60%) and Jordan Phillips (57%) led the defensive line in total snaps while Poona Ford (45%) and Kendall Vickers (27%) logged 27 and 16 snaps, respectively. Let’s just hope Oliver’s toe injury isn’t too serious and he’s back to causing chaos for opposing offensive linemen soon.
Buffalo’s edge rush didn’t generate consistent pressure either, totaling just one sack and four QB hits. Defensive ends A.J. Epenesa (53%) and Leonard Floyd (53%) out-snapped defensive end Greg Rousseau (50%), suggesting he’s still nursing his foot injury. Epenesa registered a QB hit while Floyd strip-sacked Jones on a third down play in the fourth quarter only for it not to count because of a penalty. Edge rusher V-n Miller (10%) logged just six snaps.
It’s no surprise to see linebacker Terrel Bernard, safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, and cornerbacks Dane Jackson, Christian Benford and Taron Johnson all logging 100% of the defensive snaps. The safety duo balled out (one forced fumble, one sack, one tackle for loss and two QB hits) while Johnson had a day to forget, getting flagged on crucial downs and allowing the game-winning touchdown catch. Overall, the secondary didn’t force many pass breakups and missed quite a few tackles that turned into big gains.
Time to talk about linebackers Dorian Williams (35%) and Tyrel Dodson (52%). While I thought Williams was playing well and making some tough tackles, the coaching staff pulled him following New England’s first touchdown drive and rolled with Dodson for the rest of the game. Dodson still made noticeable plays and brought some juice to the defense at times but the decision felt questionable. The more reps Williams gets, the better, right?
Bills special teams snap counts (24 snaps)
- 19 snaps (79%): CB Siran Neal, CB Cam Lewis, LB Tyler Matakevich
- 18 snaps (75%): FB Reggie Gilliam
- 15 snaps (62%): SS Taylor Rapp, DE Kingsley Jonathan
- 14 snaps (58%): LB Baylon Spector
- 13 snaps (54%): WR Trent Sherfield
- 12 snaps (50%): LB Tyrel Dodson
- 9 snaps (38%): K Tyler Bass
- 8 snaps (33%): RB Ty Johnson
- 7 snaps (29%): WR Khalil Shakir, LB Dorian Williams
- 6 snaps (25%): LB Terrel Bernard, DT Tim Settle, CB Kaiir Elam
- 5 snaps (21%): P Sam Martin, LS Reig Ferguson, DT Poona Ford, DE A.J. Epenesa, FS Micah Hyde, SS Jordan Poyer
- 4 snaps (17%): DE Shaq Lawson, G O’Cyrus Torrence, G Connor McGovern, LT Dion Dawkins, RT Spencer Brown, G David Edwards, C Ryan Bates, RT Ryan Van Demark
- 2 snaps (8%): WR Deonte Harty, DE Greg Rousseau, DT Kendall Vickers
- 1 snap (4%): CB Taron Johnson, CB Dane Jackson, CB Christian Benford
The offensive and defensive issues bled into the special teams, too. The Bills looked unprepared even when lining up for special teams and it led to an easy field goal for the Patriots after their return man busted out a 25-yard return late in the second quarter.
After drilling all nine of his first field goal attempts, kicker Tyler Bass (38%) has made just one field goal in four attempts across the last two games. It’s not an ideal situation for your kicker to start missing field goals when the offense has gone into full-blown meltdowns the last few weeks.
With tight end Quintin Morris (ankle) sidelined, Sherfield (54%) overtook his special teams role. For those who wonder why Sherfield even gets offensive snaps, it’s because he’s a good blocker and clearly the Bills’ coaching staff trusts him enough to fill in for one of the most important special team players.
One odd thing to note: Dodson (50%) still out-snapped Williams (29%) on special teams, 12 to seven, despite moving into the starting role on defense.