The 31st-ranked run defense in the NFL was no match for the Buffalo Bills’ power running schemes Sunday. The Bills pounded out 280 rushing yards against a Cleveland Browns team that was allowing 146 a game. Here were the Ten Plays That Shaped the Game:
1. End around. The Bills’ rout got rolling when Brandon Tate took a pitch from Mike Gillislee on an end around out of the Wildcat formation. Tate ran 30 yards to the Cleveland 12. It set up the Bills’ first touchdown.
Tate made a one-handed grab of the pitch and actually ran five strides while cradling the ball with his right hand like the Statue of Liberty holding a torch. His eyes were focused squarely on the giant field of green turf off left tackle and the wave of blockers in front of him.
“I was just trying to see where I was going to go,” Tate said. “When I heard the play in the huddle, I had a feeling. It’s a chance it could break. Mike did a good job selling it and pitching it. Everybody did their job. I give the credit to the other 10 guys.”
Tate said the Bills did not practice the play this week.
“Not really, you’ve just got to be prepared for all situations,” he said.
The Bills had run the Wildcat formation on only one play in the past three weeks. But Buffalo ripped off a power run off right tackle for 24 yards on the first series. So when Gillislee took the snap and followed fullback Jerome Felton toward right tackle, the entire Browns defense flowed that direction.
Tight end Charles Clay, center Ryan Groy and guard John Miller were the convoy leading Tate. The two linemen didn’t have to touch a Brown until they got 25 yards downfield.
2. TE matchup. Give Tyrod Taylor credit for taking a hit after releasing the pass and Clay credit for making a diving catch on the 19-yard touchdown late in the first half that gave Buffalo a 17-3 lead.
It was a second-and-10 play, but the Bills forced Cleveland to stick with its base defense because Buffalo kept its regular personnel on the field. LeSean McCoy shifted out wide as a receiver to tie up cornerback Joe Haden. It looked like linebacker Jamie Collins, who the Patriots unloaded to the Browns in a trade on Oct. 31, was negligent in letting Clay run free.
“It was a corner route, and the coverage – they just dropped me,” Clay said. “Tyrod did a good job of putting the ball up when he did. The wind was pretty bad down on that end, so I think the ball got caught up in the wind a little bit. So it fell a little short.”
“With Shady in the background that made Joe Haden tied down, and we were basically one on one with the linebacker carrying up the seam,” said Taylor. “Charles did a great job basically as the option route on that one, with his one eye to the corner. . . . We were on the same page and were able to connect.”
3. Touchdown Mike. Gillislee scored on a 3-yard run two plays after Tate’s end around. He followed guard Richie Incognito, and tackle Jordan Mills did a good job finishing his block on the Cleveland defensive end.
4. Clean pocket. Taylor had all day to wait for Marquise Goodwin to run an 18-yard dig route over the middle on a third-and-22 play just before the Clay TD. The 22-yard gain kept the drive alive.
5. T-Mobile I. Taylor scrambled for 28 yards to the Browns’ 3 to set up the Bills’ third TD. He was too fast for linebacker Demario Davis.
6. T-Mobile II. Browns cornerback Ibraheim Campbell came free on a blitz in the fourth quarter. But Taylor slipped out of a sure sack and scrambled for 12 yards.
7. Team effort. McCoy got good blocks from Incognito, Felton, Clay and receiver Sammy Watkins on his 8-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
8. RGIII TD. Robert Griffin III showed his mobility on an 18-yard scramble for a TD in the third quarter.
9. Points saved. Kyle Williams and Lorenzo Alexander executed a stunt and got a sack of Griffin on a third-and-goal play from the Buffalo 11 in the second quarter. It forced the Browns to kick a 35-yard field goal.
10. Roughing? Bills linebacker Zach Brown was flagged for roughing Griffin just before the QB’s TD run. It was a bad call. Brown hit Griffin in the chest with his shoulder.
Said Brown: “It happened fast. The refs gotta call the game. He’s declared as a runner. He’s not a quarterback. I just hate the fact they always say you hit somebody that hard it’s a foul.”