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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Bills dominate time of possession in win over Raiders

The Buffalo Bills dominated time of possession Sunday in their 38-10 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders at Highmark Stadium.

The Bills possessed the ball for a whopping 40 minutes, 4 seconds, compared to just 19:56 for the Raiders.

As a result, the Bills’ defenders were on the field way less than usual. The Raiders ran just 40 offensive plays. Second-year cornerback Christian Benford was the only Bills defensive player on the field for every snap, as the lopsided score allowed the Bills to remove several starters late in the win.

Here are four more observations from the snap counts in Sunday’s win:

1. Shaq Lawson was busy. Lawson played 24 defensive snaps, 60% of the team total, which tied with Greg Rousseau for the most among defensive ends. Given that the Raiders’ Josh Jacobs is the NFL’s reigning rushing champion, it makes sense the Bills used Lawson a lot, because he is a strong run defender.

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2. Two tight ends here to stay. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but the Bills sure look committed to using two tight ends as their base offense. On Sunday, Dawson Knox played 55 offensive snaps (71%), while rookie Dalton Kincaid played 47 snaps (60%). Those totals will fluctuate some, but expect Knox and Kincaid to continue to be on the field together a lot.

3. Stefon Diggs got a big workload. Diggs led receivers by playing 68 offensive snaps, which was 87% of the team total. It’s the most Diggs has played in a game in both snaps and percentage of snaps since Week 9 of last season against Minnesota, when he was on the field for 69 snaps, 92% of the team total.

4. Reggie Gilliam and Quintin Morris have a role. Gilliam, the team’s fullback, played nine offensive snaps (12%), while Morris played 15 (19%) as the No. 3 tight end. Each played 20 snaps on special teams (91%), which shared the team lead. That shows how their value to the roster goes beyond just offense.

Game ball: Josh Allen

While there were plenty of deserving candidates, the Bills’ quarterback earns the nod after going 31 of 37 for 274 yards and three touchdowns. Most important, Allen didn’t turn the ball over. If he plays like that, the Bills are going to be incredibly difficult to beat.

Quote of the game

“It shows the resiliency of this team. No one liked the taste in the mouth we had this week. I think we brought a certain edge to this week’s practice and preparation. It was nothing crazy or confrontational, but just an intentional (focus). … With that, we understood that we had to come out here and play with a certain edge and tone.” – Center Mitch Morse

Stat of the Game: 9:01

That’s how long the Bills held the ball on their opening drive of the second half, a 15-play, 75-yard beauty that ended with Allen’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Davis on fourth-and-goal. It was the Bills’ longest drive since Nov. 7, 2016, when they had a 10-minute drive at Seattle.

Coming attractions

The Bills head to our nation’s capital to take on the Washington Commanders at 1 p.m. Sunday. Washington improved to 2-0 on the season Sunday with a 35-33 victory over Denver. Here are three things to know about the Commanders …

1. Sam Howell has the offense rolling. Washington’s young quarterback, who made just his third NFL start Sunday and first one on the road, threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns. Washington hadn’t scored 35 points in a game before Sunday since Dec. 22, 2019. New offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy deserves some credit, too.

2. Chase Young is back. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Young suffered a torn ACL in 2021, and the injury kept him out of all but three games last season. He missed this year’s season opener with a stinger, but had 1.5 sacks against the Broncos – his first sack since Week 6 of the 2021 season. Young is a force when healthy, and the entire Commanders’ defensive line will be a challenge for the Bills.

3. The Commanders overcame an 18-point deficit Sunday. With 7:57 left in the second quarter, ESPN gave the Broncos a 96.3% chance of winning the game. The score at that time was 21-3 in favor of Denver, and the Broncos had the ball inside Washington territory. Washington’s Jamin Davis sacked and forced a fumble by Denver quarterback Russell Wilson that was recovered by Commanders linebacker Cody Barton. That ignited a road rally that became Washington’s largest since they overcame a 21-point deficit at Detroit on Nov. 4, 1990.

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