The Buffalo Bills were desperate for a win coming off of their Week 13 bye week, and facing a team they’ve had a fair amount of regular-season success with in recent years — the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Once again, the Bills were forced to hit the road, headed for hostile Arrowhead Stadium. The team jumped out to a 14-0 lead behind some inspired play on both sides of the ball, then held on to win it late.
The rookies weren’t very impactful in this game, but let’s take note of their contributions for the evening in what could be a pivotal moment in the Bills’ 2023 season.
TE Dalton Kincaid
It wasn’t a majorly impactful day for the 2023 first-round selection of the Bills on Sunday, but he did have one of the most important plays of the game in the first half. The team was already up 7-0 and threatening in the red zone with a 4th & 1 opportunity to keep the drive alive. Quarterback Josh Allen rolled to the right to buy extra time and hope an option came open. With two Chiefs keyed in on him running, that option was taken away completely. Kincaid was one of Allen’s options in the short area, but he found himself in muddied waters and surrounded by defenders. Wisely, Kincaid sprung to action as he peeked to find open space, climbed to the spot, and presented himself as an option. Naturally, Allen delivered a strike to keep the chains moving on a drive that ultimately ended in seven points.
We’ve discussed how quarterback-friendly Kincaid is, and that’s no better-represented than the fourth-down play in a huge situation. Outside of that play, he had a quiet performance. Kincaid had a shoulder injury within the game that he briefly left with but ultimately returned.
Dalton Kincaid is clutch for Josh Allen pic.twitter.com/AGHjBGRQyT— Tanner Phifer (@TannerPhiferNFL) December 10, 2023
OG O’Cyrus Torrence
It wasn’t a simple matchup for Torrence on Sunday — he was responsible on some occasions to operate on an island while attempting to block Chiefs All-Pro defensive lineman Chris Jones. It wasn’t always pretty and Jones will always get his, but the job got done. Torrence is still an impressive player, and he looked fresh in pass protection. As he gets more experienced, the second-round pick may even learn to use a defender’s rush plan against the defender himself.
Chiefs defensive lineman Mike Danna tried to take on Torrence straight up in the clip below. That didn’t turn out all so well, as the 6’2”, 260-pound Danna was tossed by Torrence and the big man finished the block with ease. That’s exactly what you’d hope to see from your left guard when they’re attacked with that rush plan by a player of Danna’s size.
It’s now 13 starts in 13 possible games for Torrence. It’s been a lot of ups and downs, but this performance was one of his most impressive.
LB Dorian Williams
2023 third-round linebacker Dorian Williams played five defensive snaps against the Chiefs — all of which came after starting linebacker Tyrel Dodson suffered a seemingly minor neck injury in the second half. Williams didn’t waste any time with those snaps, delivering a quarterback hit on Patrick Mahomes that forced an incompletion. As seen in the rep below, Williams was working a linebacker stunt with himself acting as the penetrator and edge rusher Leonard Floyd wrapping. The play was intended to free up Floyd, but it was Williams who ended up getting home — jolting the right tackle off the spot and continuing his pursuit.
Williams is perfectly capable in this aspect of the game as an athlete. This play is just one example of that in limited playing time.
WR Justin Shorter
We finally have an update on the Bills’ fifth-round selection who has been on Injured Reserve (IR) since just before the start of the regular season. Wednesday morning head coach Sean McDermott announced the 21-day practice window for Shorter to return had opened. Shorter must be activated within the 21-day time frame, or he’ll be forced to remain on IR for the rest of the season. Interestingly, the 21 days lines up almost perfectly with the end of the regular season. We’ll see if Shorter does ever get activated this season. But, regardless, it will be nice for the young player to potentially get practice reps under his belt.