The Buffalo Bills showed off diversity in their running game in Sunday's 30-27 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bills had some success running out of five different personnel groupings. They executed both their zone running plays and the gap-scheme runs that have pulling linemen leading the way.
It all added up to 173 rushing yards on 33 carries, the biggest rushing day allowed by the Bucs defense this season. It was a welcome showing, since the Bills' run game had sputtered against decent-to-good defenses the past four games.
Even if Tyrod Taylor's three scrambles for 45 yards are discounted, it still was a good running day.
"I thought Rico called a great game," said Bills center Eric Wood, referring to offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. "Very multiple in our run package against them. Tyrod made a few plays with his legs again for us, which always helps."
"I thought we had a great mix of outside zone, inside zone, power, some counters," said Wood.
The Bills had 56 yards on 10 designed runs out of three-receiver sets. The backs had 25 yards on four carries out of the regular set, with two backs and two receivers on the field. The backs had 27 yards on five carries with two tight ends and one back. And each one of those groupings produced a gainer of 10 or more yards.
When the Bills powered up with two tight ends, two backs and one wideout, they went six for 18 yards (not counting two clock-killing runs before the last field goal). They scored a 1-yard TD out of their jumbo formation.
When the Bills pulled linemen in gap-scheme runs, they gained 37 yards on seven carries. That included a 23-yard run on a third-and-1 toss sweep. Cordy Glenn and Dion Dawkins led the way.
The gap scheme was favored by former coordinator Anthony Lynn.
But the zone scheme worked, too, against the Bucs. Bills backs rushed 20 times for 83 yards on mostly inside and outside zone runs.
There's a misconception that Dennison has been inflexible in sticking to zone running, which is key to his offensive plan. But Dennison has been mixing it up in recent weeks, even before the bye.
In the loss at Cincinnati, the Bills ran 13 zone-scheme runs for 64 yards (a 4.9-yard average) and nine gap-scheme runs for 26 yards (a 2.8-yard average).
The Bills showed the threat of Taylor running some read options a bit more against the Bucs. There were 10 designed shotgun runs. Buffalo used only four shotgun runs in Week Two at Carolina.
"I think we made some adjustments with what happened before the bye week," said linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. "They got it rolling today. Using Tyrod a bit more in the read option and the bootleg stuff. Some of the gap schemes that we like to run, and it was awesome to see."
Of course, the run success can't be viewed in a vacuum. Passing game success helped keep the first-down chains moving and helped keep the Bucs' defense honest. That's something that did not happen in the losses to the Bengals or the Panthers.
Next week's opponent, the Oakland Raiders, will have a lot to prepare for in their run fronts. The Raiders rank 19th against the run.