Buffalo is only two games into their 2014 campaign, but they've posted two victories crediting solid three-phase play on offense, defense and special teams. One constant for all three units is the ability to either produce big plays or prevent them.
Through the first two weeks of the season Buffalo's offense has put together 11 plays of 20 yards or more. That's tied for first in the league with Atlanta. On defense the Bills have allowed just a single play of 20 yards or more, which is the best in the NFL as well.
"One of the main things for us is to limit the big plays and that's one of our goals coming into every week," said LB Nigel Bradham. "On offense it's to make big plays. For us to be able to come out and just execute on that is a great plus for the defense."
On special teams Buffalo's coverage units have also kept big plays to a minimum allowing just a pair of kick returns for 21 yards. The longest punt return allowed thus far this season has been just seven yards. Meanwhile C.J. Spiller's 102-yard kick return can be thrown in with the big plays turned in by the offense.
"I'm happy with what we're doing right now," said Boobie Dixon. "I tell the guys every day when we're out there practicing that we've got to be the best in the league. Let's not shy away from it. Let's let everybody know that we want to be the best in the league and keep working."
Of Buffalo's 11 big plays on offense so far this season, the three longest are all running plays. Dixon and C.J. Spiller both have runs of 47 yards. Dixon's came against Chicago and Spiller's came this past Sunday against Miami. Fred Jackson has the other with his 38-yard run in overtime against the Bears.
"It's just been a big credit to the O-line," said Dixon. "They've been blocking their tails off. They've been amazing and coach (Nathaniel) Hackett, he's drawing up some good plays, credit to him also. We're just going out there repping it and just trying to win games."
"We know our backs are explosive and they're going to break one eventually," said Chris Williams. "Coming out early (Sunday) they threw some fronts at us, they were changing the fronts a lot. We made adjustments and eventually you know they're going to pop one."
Spiller's 47-yard run Sunday led to a touchdown. Fred Jackson's 28-yard run led to a field goal. For the backs it gets competitive with each of Buffalo's top three backs trying to change the game.
"I think we're just competing with each other," said Dixon. "I see C.J. make a play and I want to make a play and same thing with Fred. All of us are feeding off each other. It kind of (stinks) that me and C.J. are now tied for the longest run so we've got to fix that this week."
Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods share four of the next five longest offensive plays so far this season, with Jackson's 28-yard run the only other big play in that stretch. Watkins has catches of 30, 28 and 25 yards while Woods has a 32 and 25-yarder. Scott Chandler and Mike Williams have the others.
Buffalo's defense faced a strong-armed quarterback in Jay Cutler in Week 1 and a 44-yard pass play was the only play over 20 yards surrendered to Chicago's explosive attack. This past Sunday against Miami the Dolphins longest play allowed was a Ryan Tannehill pass to Mike Wallace, which covered 18 yards.
"It just comes with a full week of preparation, going out there and reading formations and recognizing routes and just keeping everything in front of us," said Da'Norris Searcy. "We don't want any deep balls thrown on us. We feel like if we can keep it in front of us we can see it and make a play on it."
Keeping big gains to a minimum has forced opposing offenses to methodically try and make their way into scoring territory with nine, 10 and 11 plays drives instead of a quick scoring strike.
"It's huge. A lot has to do with our DBs," said Bradham. "They've been playing tremendous and then of course up front getting the pass rush going and play great coverage. Sometimes we get coverage sacks, sometimes we get pass rush sacks. We've got the best of both worlds right now."