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Plays that Shaped the Game

Bills embrace 'Buffalo vs. Everybody' in making tough plays

Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator Brian Daboll showed up for work Sunday wearing his sweatshirt that reads: “Buffalo vs. Everybody.”

Bills tight end Lee Smith thought that was a perfect tone-setting example for the players.

“It all starts with Daboll and the mindset that we established as an offense,” Smith said after the Bills’ 21-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

“We got a bunch of dudes who didn’t get re-signed and hit the free market,” Smith said. “Word on the street in our league is the great players never get out of teams they’re on. Guess what? We’ve got a lot of guys who were let out.

“The Buffalo vs. Everybody sweatshirt Daboll walked in with, that says it,” Smith said. “He’s a Buffalo guy. He didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth. That’s the way our whole offense is. We might not have the superstar players, but we also don’t have the egos. We got a bunch of dudes that love each other, want to fight their butt off for each other. Daboll’s tougher than hell, and that trickles down to the entire offense. And bar fights is what it’s all about.”

Bills make it tougher than it should have been, but go to 3-0 with win vs. Bengals

Frank Gore threw in his two cents:

“I feel like this team is an old-school team, we’ve got old-school coaches and we’re all one,” Gore said. “We’re built tough. We’re just keeping our head down and we keep working.”

Toughness was what the players wanted to talk about after going 3-0, so we’ll focus on the toughness plays that shaped the game:

1. Locomotive left. The play of the game, of course, was the 49-yard catch and run by Dawson Knox to set up the winning touchdown. It was a 7-route, up and out toward the left sideline, 20 yards downfield.

It was designed to isolate Knox on the coverage. He was the “Y” tight end, lined up next to the left tackle and the only receiver running down the left side. The Bills’ three wideouts all were on the right side.

The Bengals busted their two-deep coverage. Gore leaked out of the backfield to the left, and both underneath cornerback William Jackson and linebacker LaRoy Reynolds jumped forward to cover him. Reynolds, signed just a week ago, almost surely was victimized. He needed to follow the tight end downfield. And it would have been a good matchup for the Bills even if Reynolds tried to cover Knox.

Knox caught the ball at the 50, stiff-armed safety Shawn Williams, lowered his shoulder and ran over Jessie Bates at the 30 and finally was tackled at the 22.

“That catch today, regardless of how many yards it went for, it’s treating two grown men like children,” Smith said. “That earned him the respect of all his teammates.”

2. The winning TD. Gore scored on a power-football, 1-yard run to give the Bills the lead with 1:50 left.

The Bills lined up two tight ends – Smith and Knox – on the left, and had fullback Patrick DiMarco lead Gore into the hole off left tackle.

“My O-line did a great job, my fullback did a great job, and I just hit it,” Gore said.

Smith blocked linebacker Nick Vigil, and Patrick DiMarco finished the job on Vigil to give Gore a crease.

3. The first TD. Credit Daboll with breaking a tendency on the first touchdown, the 1-yard pass from Allen to Knox.

The Bills had three tight ends and two running backs on the field in the same formation that they used last week when Gore ran over a Giants linebacker off left guard for a 1-yard touchdown.

This time they faked to Gore off left guard, Allen bootlegged to the right, and Knox was wide open.

“That’s good coaching,” Gore said.

4. Tough in the pocket. Allen stood tall in the pocket and took a hit from defensive end Andrew Brown on a 22-yard pass to Zay Jones that set up the Bills’ first TD. Brown was penalized 11 yards for roughing the passer, moving the ball to the Bengals’ 11.

It was a high-low route combination, with three receivers to the left and John Brown to the right. Cole Beasley ran a hook route underneath. Jones ran behind him on a skinny post. Safety Clayton Fejedelem was a tad late hitting Jones because he had his eye on John Brown running a post from the other side.

“It’s a concept we have,” Jones said. “Cole was inside. I was in the slot. It’s just me trying to find that void within the defense and seeing the rotation of the safeties and being in that hole for Josh. Josh delivered a strike under duress, putting his body on the line.”

5. Good defensive quarterbacking. The Bills got a third-down stop in the third quarter when cornerback Kevin Johnson blitzed off left tackle and sacked Andy Dalton for a 2-yard loss.

It was a good play by safety Micah Hyde. Johnson was lined up over the slot receiver on the other side of the formation before Hyde shifted him over just as Dalton was snapping the ball.

“It was a little miscommunication on us pre-snap, thinking different calls,” Hyde said.

“I think he was confused because I’m showing down,” said Hyde, referring to Dalton and the fact he was near the line of scrimmage. “I’m yelling at Kevin and I think Dalton was trying to hear what I was saying. Kevin gave me the thumbs up and I’m like, ‘No, no! Get over here!’ It was not intended to do it that way. But the late change messed them up, and he was able to come off the edge and get a sack.”

6. Textbook tackling. It took the Bengals 19 minutes to complete a pass, and they made a turnover on their first completion. It was a sound fundamental play by Hyde, who wrapped his arms around John Ross after a short completion and used his right arm to rake the ball out. Matt Milano recovered at the Bengals’ 38.

“We talk about going for the football a lot in practice,” Hyde said. “He caught the ball and had it in his inside hand. I thought I almost had the pick. I was a few inches away from having the pick. The ball was in his right hand. I was able to secure the tackle and I just stripped it out. Credit goes to our coaches on that. They preach a lot in practice on getting to the football and trying to get it out.”

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