Here are the results of the key matchups in the Bills' victory against the Falcons:
Bills LBs vs. Atlanta RBs
The collective speed of the Bills' linebacking corps was an area of concern entering the season. Did the Bills have fast enough linebackers to play Sean McDermott's defense? The Bills' linebackers survived one of the toughest tests they will face all season against the Falcons.
Running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman were good. They combined for 222 yards on 33 touches. Last week they put up 227 on 33 touches against Detroit. But the foundation of the Atlanta offense is built on Freeman's outside zone rushing. He averaged 5 yards a carry against Detroit. He managed just 3.2 a carry on 18 attempts against the Bills. He never got around the corner. Coleman caught a 39-yard pass with Lorenzo Alexander in coverage. But the Falcons' dynamic duo caught only six passes on the Bills, and that play was the only one for more than 14 yards.
Bills OL vs. Atlanta LBs
The Falcons rely on fast linebackers to quickly fill run gaps between the tackles and to swarm all runs outside the tackles. But they're a small. They can be powered. The Bills' rushing offense wasn't great but it exploited its size and power advantage just enough to get the job done. LeSean McCoy and Mike Tolbert combined for 107 yards on 28 carries, a decent average of 3.8 yards a carry.
The Bills' run blockers imposed their will at a critical point of the second half. Buffalo held the ball for 19 plays and 11:20 en route to a field goal that produced a 17-10 lead. The Bills ran the ball the first nine plays of the drive and 15 of the 19 plays overall. Credit offensive coordinator Rick Dennison with utilizing the great pulling ability of guard Richie Incognito. Fullback Patrick DiMarco was especially good blocking on the clock-eating drive.
Charles Clay vs. Atlanta D
No matter what pass plays are called, somebody needs to win one-on-one matchups to get the offense moving. The Bills do not have a potent wide receiving corps. The wideouts managed just four catches against the Falcons. Thanks to tight end Charles Clay, the Bills were able to keep the Atlanta defense honest. Clay had five catches for 112 yards.
The Bills went to Clay on the first play from scrimmage, an 8-yard gain on a bootleg rollout. On the second drive, he caught a 14-yard pass in the flat, then beat linebacker De'Vondre Campbell for a 12-yarder. On the third drive, Clay had the speed to get behind safety Keanu Neal for a 44-yarder that set up the first TD. His last catch was a 34-yard in which he got behind speedy linebacker Deion Jones and made a tough catch. The Bills needed Clay. He delivered.
Story topics: Charles Clay