1 - Ryan Davis: "I think we're making Shaq proud."
Buffalo's defensive line took a blow when Shaq Lawson was placed on injured reserve two weeks ago. The players behind Lawson have rallied to fill the void and have made the most of their opportunities.
"I knew we were going to have to step it up a notch," Ryan Davis said on WGR 550. "I knew it was going to be similar to the Atlanta game where Shaq didn't play and me and Jerry Hughes] had to rotate. It worked out fine, so I knew we’d be fine from that aspect.”[!(https://goo.gl/qiMD1M)
Lawson has missed the last two games since being placed on IR. Davis has delivered in his absence, recording sacks in back-to-back games. His most recent sack came on Sunday, as he took down Jay Cutler on a critical third down in the red zone.
"Really down there, because Cutler's a guy who can run, I didn't want to speed rush and run the corner and get blocked past him," said Davis. "I decided to power rush and got a good rush and I saw him step up. As I was going down, I swiped at his legs and that's that. It was a big play at the time."
Aside from Davis, Eddie Yarbrough is another defensive end who's had positive contributions. On Sunday, he had two tackles that were both run stops. His most impressive play was stuffing Miami's Kenyan Drake that resulted in a loss of three yards.
Defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier, has seen Yarbrough's play develop as the season's progressed.
"Eddie did a good job for us on Sunday. He's always a high-energy guy, all over the place, playing hard all the time," said Frazier. "He's become more conscious of playing good run defense, not just becoming a situation guy. Which, for the most part, he had been. Now, his snaps are going up. He's playing more on first and second down situations. You have to focus a little bit more on the overall picture. I think he's gotten better at that."
DE Cap Capi had arguably his best performance of his NFL career on Sunday. He was promoted to Buffalo's 53-man roster the same day Lawson went on IR. Against Miami, Capi recorded his first-career sack and forced fumble on the same play.
Capi, Davis, Yarbrough, and Jerry Hughes are the Bills four defensive ends on the active roster. This is how their snaps divvied out on Sunday: Hughes (64-percent), Yarbrough (56-percent), Davis (48-percent), and Capi (31-percent).
Those players have handled the four-man rotation at DE exceptionally well the past two games. They'll look to keep that positive push in the final two games of the season.
"We got Cap Capi coming in and he's playing well. For me, I'm playing on the left side now. All season I was on the right side," said Davis. "We just didn't want to lose a beat and so far we're not doing that. I think we're making Shaq proud right now. He wishes he could be out there with us. That's our job, to make sure there's no fall off and continue to play well."
2 - Emotional games call for composure
With four of the five final games this season being against divisional opponents, it's no surprise that things have gotten a little chippy at times after the play. Buffalo's final two games are in New England and Miami. They'll have to keep their emotions in check.
On Sunday, the Bills led the entire game against the Dolphins. As the loss was setting in for Miami, altercations ensued between the two teams.
With the position Buffalo was in, there was no need to take part in extracurricular activities. It was in the middle of the fourth quarter when Adolphus Washington was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. He slapped the ball out of a Dolphins player's hands. At the time, the Bills led by a score of 24-6. Two plays after Washington's penalty, the Dolphins scored and made it 24-13.
Buffalo's longest tenured player, Kyle Williams, wasn't a fan of Washington's decision.
"As far as chippy, I know one thing, we're off the field on fourth down. And to have a penalty there, I don't know what it is, but at that point in the game, we're off the field on fourth-and-one. They've got to kick another field goal. That's dumb football," said Williams.
"No matter what happened, or what the penalty was. I don't care if they talk ugly about your mother. Handle it after the game. Right there, you walk away and get off the field. That's a big crucial point in the game. They get the ball inside the 20 and we hold them to a field goal, that's a win for us. Right there, we're going to have to be smarter and we're going to have to learn from that moving forward."
The Bills have already faced the Dolphins and Patriots once this season. They'll revisit both teams in Weeks 16 and 17. With the Patriots, there's still chatter around the hit Rob Gronkowski had on Tre'Davious White that resulted in a one-game suspension. With the Dolphins, the chippiness from that contest is still lingering.
It's easier said than done, but defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is looking for clean football to close out the regular season.
"It's so important that we focus on the task at hand. That's to go on the road and get a win against a very, very good offense. We can't get caught up in all the extracurricular stuff," said Frazier. "We really have to focus on the task at hand and that's playing good, clean football. We'll have our hands full as is. We don't want to create issues for our team or defense by getting caught up in anything other than playing hard football."
3 - Bills offense finding their flow
It appears Buffalo's offense has gotten into a groove in the final stretch of the season. On Sunday, they had their highest scoring half of the year.
"That's the best half we've done as an offense, I think. That's what I credit to those guys. They really worked hard last week," said offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. "It was a good group. Miami had played well defensively the past two games. I think our guys worked hard at it. They studied. They knew what they wanted to get done and worked at the game plan. They did a good job."
It was in the first half against the Dolphins when the Bills put 21 points up on the scoreboard. Making for the most points scored in a half this season for the team. Buffalo showed great tempo in the first 30 minutes of play. Dennison mentioned having a stable set of starters on the offensive line and how that's helped moving forward.
"I think it's helping that the same guys are playing next to each other," said Dennison. "Having coached the position, it's important as far as them being on the same page. I think that helps quite a bit, because they're getting in a rhythm."
Buffalo's functionality on offense is coming around going into Week 16 against the Patriots. They'll look to utilize that, as they only put up three points against the Pats in Week 13.
"I think the offense as a whole was thinking, 'This is what we can do. This is what we know we can do,' and working with the tempo. A pace and sense of urgency helps a lot," said Dennison. "In the first half that's what we did. We did a good job of moving, getting in and out of the huddle, and playing fast."
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