Week 15 brought a surprising surplus of comfort and security for Buffalo Bills fans in what was an absolutely pivotal home game. The outcome of Buffalo’s win against the Dallas Cowboys kept the team’s playoff hopes — and in the process, the Bills passed the test with flying colors, and in a whole new way.
Running the ball was the name of the game for interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady and the offense. An in-game adjustment chose a physical brand of football over one forcing quarterback Josh Allen to do everything and more. The Cowboys’ defense is built to cause chaos against teams that want to pass on them. The Bills decided to test their weaknesses up the spine at defensive tackle and linebacker — mashing Dallas in the run game repeatedly.
It was an impressive performance and one where the offense never got bored of simply running the ball while it was working. The Bills were able to lean into the run game because the defense shut down quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offense as well, and prevented big shots down the field. All-Pro and future Hall of Fame right guard Zack Martin went down with injury in the first half, which also led to some successes for Buffalo.
With the win, a couple of rookies had their hand in assisting to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive. Let’s talk performances of the Bills’ young contributors within the 31-10 win over the Cowboys.
TE Dalton Kincaid
As a receiver, Kincaid was quiet in this game with no receptions and two drops in a short span. Despite coming into the league with two dropped passes his entire college career, Kincaid has had some issues with them as a rookie. Most of them come from simple focus issues. He has a large sample set in college of being a strong hands catcher, so it’s not time to hit the panic button yet in this regard. But it’s sure something worth noting as the season winds down.
As a blocker, the Bills did some nice things to put him in situations to succeed. He only played 33 of 68 snaps in the game due to the strong run script. But, Kincaid was allowed to down block to seal the edge a couple of times and the Bills did some things to disconnect the tight end from their run looks, getting favorable blocking matchups against defensive backs. All in all, this was one of Kincaid’s quietest games of the year with the drops not coming back to cost the team in the long run.
OG O’Cyrus Torrence
It was Torrence’s dream scenario for a game script on Sunday evening with 49 runs to 15 passes. The rookie second-round pick enjoyed a nice day doing what he does best as a run blocker. He was consistently effective in moving the man in front of him off the spot and utilizing angles to execute blocking assignments on the “Dart” concept (single pulling tackle) the Bills love running so much this year. Torrence is asked to downblock a lot and he does a great job of it in this offense. We’ve preached that, despite average athleticism, Torrence is a player who works angles extremely well.
It would have been interesting to see how Torrence fared in a game script where he was forced to pass protect more against the Cowboys’ front, but that didn’t need to happen. And, for that, Torrence was very successful all game.
The Bills have been waiting for a people mover like Torrence to join the fray for a long time. Fellow rookie Mazi Smith was considered one of the most naturally strong players in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Torrence easily moves him in the clip below.
O'Cyrus Torrence and Spencer Brown get 10 yards of movement on Mazi Smith pic.twitter.com/6zDYSVxaoC— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) December 19, 2023
LB Dorian Williams
The Bills’ third-round pick didn’t get into the game until the outcome was essentially decided. Starting linebackers Terrel Bernard and Tyrel Dodson are playing good football at the moment, with the latter playing his best over the last couple of weeks. Williams got in some reps during the fourth quarter, but he wasn’t asked to make an impact when the result was in the balance.
WR Justin Shorter
The Bills’ fifth-round selection had his 21-day practice window opened a week ago. He has two more weeks to be activated before he’s no longer eligible to return from injured reserve. Shorter was a full participant in practice on Tuesday. We shall see if the Bills activate Shorter for his special teams ability at some point within the window.