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Stats Wizard: Run game critical to success of Bills in past, present

Let’s take a look at just how important a strong ground game is for the Bills, historically.

On Monday, we touched on the Bills' performance during games in which LeSean McCoy, presently, and Thurman Thomas, historically, rushed for 100 yards or more. Specifically, how the Bills are 10-2 (.833) when McCoy rushes for at least 100 yards, and how they were a remarkable 43-3 (.935) when Thomas rushed for 100.

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All-time, the Bills are 327-212-7 (.605) when rushing for at least 100 yards as a team. They are 256-132-6 (.657) when picking up at least 125 yards on the ground, and 183-64-5 (.736) when rushing for at least 150 yards.

They have a 153-58 (.725) record during games where at least one player rushes for 100 or more yards, compared to a 43-33 (.566) record during games in which they have a 300-yard passer.

Since you may now be wondering, because I was while writing this, the Bills are 9-2 (.818) all-time when they have both a 100-yard rusher and a 300-yard passer in the same game — winning their first eight between 1991 and 2002, while losing two of their last three — games occurring between 2006 and 2016, most recently the crushing 34-31, overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Christmas Eve of last year.

Though the ground game may appear quintessential to the Bills' success based on these marks, it, of course, alone will not bring Buffalo back to the postseason for the first time since the 1999 season. They led all of football in total rushing offense in each of the last two seasons. They are the only team to lead the NFL in rushing and fail to make the postseason since the 2008 Vikings, whose rush offense was led by rookie running back, Adrian Peterson.

Along with McCoy's Week One performance, Mike Tolbert contributed to the Bills' rushing attack. Tolbert had 42 yards rushing in the opener, over a third of his entire rushing output last season of 114 yards.

(Stats courtesty of Pro Football Reference.)

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