Jordan Mills smiled when the question was asked after the game Sunday. No, he didn’t lose any sleep while thinking about his matchup against J.J. Watt, the all-universe defensive end and nightmare for offensive tackles. In fact, Jordan may have had a tougher time with Jerel Worthy.
Who are Jordan Mills and Jerel Worthy, you ask?
Both played vital roles in the Bills’ 30-21 victory over the Texans in Ralph Wilson Stadium. You know the particulars about the game, how the Bills scored 21 first-half points but were deadlocked with two minutes remaining when Houston’s blown coverage allowed Tyrod Taylor to find Charles Clay for the winning touchdown.
The Bills had 187 yards rushing and scored 30 points against a team that had allowed only two touchdowns during a four-game winning streak. The Texans were charging into playoff contention, with Brian Hoyer playing quarterback, because opposing teams couldn’t move the ball against them.
Buffalo’s success Sunday started with the offensive line neutralizing Watt. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year had 13½ sacks in his first 11 games, which was more than the Bills’ defensive line had combined. Many believe he’s the best player at any position in the NFL.
“He’s one of the best in the league, if not the best,” Mills said. “It’s accepting the challenge of going against him. If you have a bad play, you have a bad play, move on. But he’s one of the greats in this league, a high-caliber guy. It was a great challenge.”
Mills is a humble guy and understandably so. He was signed off the Lions’ practice squad the week the Bills were in London. He played two years with the Bears before they waived him. The Bills are his fourth team this season after Chicago, Dallas and Detroit. He was sitting behind Seantrel Henderson before Sunday.
Worthy plays on the practice squad. He was the guy who imitated Watt during practice all week and helped Mills and the other offensive linemen prepare for the best defensive player in the NFL. He was so effective being J.J. during the week that they eventually had plenty in common during the game. Both were inactive Sunday.
Well, that’s not exactly true.
Worthy isn’t on the Bills’ active roster and therefore wasn’t included on the list of inactive players. Watt played the entire game on defense but was inactive, period. The Bills effectively shut him down. He was practically invisible along with the other beasts making up the Texans’ defensive line.
In other words, Watt wasn’t Worthy against the Bills.
“He did an awesome job,” Mills said of Worthy. “Every move J.J. does, he did it full speed. He did it perfectly. I told him, ‘Do what J.J. does’ and he was going full-speed in the walkthroughs. He got the whole offense ready. He went against each of us on the O-line. He did a great job. He’s as much a part of this win as anybody else.”
Mills was hardly alone in blocking Watt, who was nursing a sore groin going into the game. Buffalo was aware of him on every play, but he wasn’t their only concern going into the game. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who spent 11 years terrorizing the Bills when he played for the Patriots, had an uneventful afternoon Sunday.
The same could be said for linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, the first pick overall in 2014. The Texans had eight first-round picks on defense, but the Bills were the better and more assertive team Sunday. Taylor was sacked once. He had time to throw deep passes to Sammy Watkins and the winner to Clay.
Watt moved around the defensive line to make things more difficult for the Bills, but they had answers for everything. Cordy Glenn was effective at left tackle. Richie Incognito peeled from his left guard spot to help out. Center Eric Wood and right guard Kraig Urbik did their jobs inside. Mills was superb under the circumstances.
It was all geared toward stopping Watt.
“We’re putting two, three guys on him on every snap,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said. “We’re doing everything we possibly can against him. He’s just a great player because he allows others some shots, too. But, oh, man, you know where he’s at, certainly, and we did. We had a great plan.”
The Bills made good use of their tight ends in the blocking scheme. They opened up holes for LeSean McCoy, allowing him to get into rhythm. The Bills will review video from the game, but nobody should be surprised if they find Sunday’s game was the best performance by their O-line this season.
“I face double-teams and triple-teams every single week, so it’s nothing new,” Watt said. “They didn’t throw the ball a whole lot and did a great job running the ball. They had a good scheme coming in.”
For the third time this season, McCoy rushed for exactly 112 yards. That’s a coincidence. The Bills won all three games. That is not.
“It’s being consistent,” Incognito said. “We jumped out on the Patriots twice. We jumped out on Kansas City. We jumped out on these guys. We let them hang around. We’re faster starters, and we have to be finishers. We have the pieces. We have everything in this room to win.”
Too often, the Bills allowed the opposing team to dictate how games were played this season. It certainly wasn’t the case Sunday. You hear all the time how running the ball is an attitude. They adjusted their attitude against the Texans. They made sure they didn’t get pushed around.
It was an important win against another team battling for an AFC wild-card spot. The Bills are 6-6 and will likely need three more wins, possibly four, to make the postseason for the first time in 16 seasons. The offensive line proved Sunday that it’s capable of leading the way and making a name for itself.
Jordan Mills introduced himself Sunday.
“Coming in here and getting an opportunity when they had a few people down, I wanted to step in and help my teammates,” Mills said. “It was a great feeling to get the team win. It’s on to the next game in Philadelphia.”