clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bills vs. Cowboys Week 15 snap counts: Let James Cook!

Resting starters late in the fourth quarter... in this economy?!

Dallas Cowboys v Buffalo Bills Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills kept their postseason chances alive and well after dominating the Dallas Cowboys, 31-10, on Sunday afternoon at Highmark Stadium. Buffalo now holds an 8-6 record and has the Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins on tap to finish the season. The Bills completely control their own postseason destiny and can secure a playoff spot by simply winning the remainder of these games.

While Buffalo dominated Dallas from start to finish, would you believe me if I said both safety Micah Hyde (neck) and defensive end A.J. Epenesa (ribs) were ruled out ahead of the matchup? It was an all-around strong effort in all phases of the game and the next-man-up mentality rang true.

As always, let’s take a look at the Week 15 snap counts from Bills-Cowboys and talk position battles on both sides of the ball.

Bills offensive snap counts (68 snaps)

It’s always a beautiful sight to see the starters pulled late in the game. Quarterback Josh Allen (90%) wasn’t asked to do much for arguably the first time in his career, attempting just 15 passes and totaling less than 120 scrimmage yards. Instead, running back James Cook (56%) ran all over the Cowboys’ defense — totaling 27 touches for 221 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. The Bills clearly prioritized the run game and it worked a little too well. Running back Ty Johnson (29%) out-snapped Latavius Murray (21%) for the first time this season and for good reason as he averaged 6.0 yards per carry. The Cook/Johnson two-headed backfield could be quite good as the season wraps up and the postseason looms.

Since Allen wasn’t asked to pass the ball much, the receivers’ stat lines suffered as a result. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs (46%) logged the fourth-fewest snaps by a wide receiver this week but still led the team in receptions (4) and yards (48), including an impressive one-handed snag to convert a third-down conversion in the second half. Wide receivers Gabe Davis (72%), Trent Sherfield (57%), Khalil Shakir (49%) and tight ends Dawson Knox (62%) and Dalton Kincaid (49%) all put up goose eggs. Davis and Shakir were each targeted once, while Kincaid uncharacteristically dropped both his targets. Nonetheless, the Bills won 31-10 convincingly, so I’m not looking too far into this lack of production in the pass game.

Shoutout to the entire offensive line for consistently winning in the trenches and essentially bullying Dallas’ defense all game long. It’s also worth noting that since Knox has returned to the lineup, interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady has tested out some rather unique formations, particularly with fullback Reggie Gilliam (21%) and guard David Edwards (21%) routinely subbing in for extra blocking.

Bills defensive snap counts (57 snaps)

Entering the game without Hyde or Epenesa was certainly daunting given the high-flying and successful nature of the Cowboys’ offense this season, but the backups stepped up in a big way. First, the defense held Dallas’ offense to just 195 net yards (and it could’ve been even worse had the starters stayed in the game). Second, it got to quarterback Dak Prescott three different times, each coming in rather crucial situations and recorded seven QB hits and four tackles for a loss.

Let’s highlight the secondary first because it slowed down the high-powered duo of Prescott and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who was held to just three catches for 33 yards against Bills’ starters. Safety Taylor Rapp (100%) and cornerback Christian Benford (100%) were the only two defensive players to play every snap. Rapp filled in for Hyde and made some big plays, while Benford recorded his first interception of the season. Cornerbacks Rasul Douglas (88%) and Taron Johnson (84%) along with safety Jordan Poyer (88%) limited Dallas’ pass-catchers all game long. Both Poyer and Douglas nearly had interceptions of their own, as well.

This defense certainly didn’t look like it was missing an elite linebacker in Matt Milano, because both Terrel Bernard (88%) and Tyrel Dodson (51%) have provided ample support over the last few weeks. Bernard’s pre-snap communication is elite and he’s constantly flying all over the field to make plays while Dodson’s run-stopping ability remains a big reason for the defensive success. If the Bills win out and secure a playoff berth, are we going to see a potential Milano return?

Much like the secondary without Hyde, the defensive line had a tough matchup against a good Cowboys’ offensive line without Epenesa. Epenesa has been making huge plays across the last few weeks but all is well because defensive end Leonard Floyd (53%) continues to arguably be the steal of the offseason considering Floyd wasn’t signed until June of this year. Defensive end Greg Rousseau (68%) looks to be fully recovered from that lingering foot injury, recording a half-sack, one tackle for a loss and two QB hits while defensive tackles Ed Oliver (61%) and Jordan Phillips (28%) terrorized Dallas’ backup guard to the injured Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin, who left the game early with a knee injury. Oliver’s effectiveness doesn't always show up in the stat sheet, but his aggressive pass-rushing style creates plenty of opportunities for the rest of the defensive line to eat. Phillips finished with one sack, one tackle for loss and a pass deflection that was nearly an interception.

Bills special teams snap counts (24 snaps)

  • 22 snaps (92%): TE Quintin Morris, FB Reggie Gilliam
  • 19 snaps (79%): CB Siran Neal, LB Tyler Matakevich
  • 18 snaps (75%): CB Cam Lewis, SS Damar Hamlin, LB Dorian Williams
  • 17 snaps (71%): LB Baylon Spector
  • 12 snaps (50%): CB Dane Jackson
  • 11 snaps (46%): K Tyler Bass
  • 9 snaps (38%): DE Kingsley Jonathan
  • 8 snaps (33%): LS Reid Ferguson, P Sam Martin
  • 6 snaps (25%): WR Trent Sherfield, WR Deonte Harty
  • 5 snaps (21%): G O’Cyrus Torrence, G Connor McGovern, T Dion Dawkins, T Spencer Brown, G David Edwards, C Ryan Bates
  • 3 snaps (12%): WR Khalil Shakir, LB Tyrel Dodson
  • 2 snaps (8%): RB Ty Johnson, SS Taylor Rapp, DE Greg Rousseau, DE Shaq Lawson
  • 1 snap (4%): DT Tim Settle, DT Jordan Phillips, DT Linval Joseph, DE Leonard Floyd, LB Terrel Bernard, CB Christian Benford, SS Jordan Poyer