It had been noticeably absent the first two games of the season. Buffalo had not cracked the 100 yard mark in rushing in either of their first two outings. Rushing lanes proved tough to find and opponents were determined to hem in LeSean McCoy and not allow him to get the corner on outside runs.
In Week 3 new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn made some changes, an inspired offensive line played more effectively and LeSean McCoy was as elusive as ever as Buffalo rolled up more than 200 yards rushing in a 15-point victory over the Cardinals.
"We really did a great job up front," said head coach Rex Ryan. "That offensive line did a great job blocking against an outstanding front. We were creative in some of the things that we did. Shady is always… we've just got to block them and he'll do the rest."
On their first three series the Bills opened the game with a mix of 11, 12 and 21 personnel. Their looks in the backfield were also varied with everything from an empty backfield to pistol to I-formation to Wildcat with McCoy taking direct snaps. They also used a healthy dose of misdirection to keep a fast Arizona defense guessing.
"Yeah a couple of oddball formations," said Tyrod Taylor. "Definitely (makes it harder) for the defense. They can't (hide things) as easy bringing in different personnel, lined up in different formations. It just keeps them unbalanced. But at the same time we're calling our regular offense, we're just moving out of different formations. But I think Coach Lynn did a good job of that mixing it in early against their defense."
"The idea of the game plan was more a little misdirection, a little 'I' formation, a little option, option out of the pistol," McCoy said. "So much to defend so I knew we would run the ball. I didn't know if we would run this well."
McCoy finished with 110 yards on 17 carries to average 6.5 per rush, with his longest carry going 24 yards for a touchdown. That play's success was due more to a tempo change as Buffalo hurried to the line and Taylor quickly handed off to McCoy, who burst through a hole behind John Miller and outran the safety to the right side of the end zone for the score.
"They blocked that up," said McCoy of his linemen. "It was a trap, quick trap up the middle. The safety was deep to the left, so I knew that I could outrun him, but they got me to the secondary and that was it. It was a play we went over; hitting them, hitting them, hitting them. You know, and get something quick, so it worked out well."
"I think the way we mixed in our no huddle was definitely beneficial with the touchdown that Shady had off the trap," Taylor said. "That was a big one in the game. You have to pick and choose when you use it, because sometimes you get stuck in a personnel (grouping), and it is not the personnel that you can run your whole offense from. But I think we did a good job of mixing it and forced them to play certain coverages and stay in certain things and give us decent looks to run our plays."
Three of the Bills five longest plays from scrimmage came on the ground. The longest being Tyrod Taylor's read option keeper on the first play of the third offensive series that went for 49 yards, as he was turned loose a bit more to use his legs.
"It was something that we went into the game thinking that we could definitely scheme up a way to get a read option and luckily they closed down with three key and the safety ended up taking the pitch guy and left me down the field so, it was big play of the game," said Taylor. "I think it was definitely something that sparked that drive and we were able to capitalize."
McCoy would score a second time on the ground on a first-and-goal from the five-yard line. The blocking wasn't perfect out in front of him, but McCoy outmaneuvered Chandler Jones along the sideline and dove into the front left corner of the end zone.
"It was like a pitch out," he said. "We didn't get the crack on the defender, so he was free to run, Chandler (Jones), so I ran him and when you see a guy's moving that fast and he's that big, I can cut and stop. He can't. That's the whole game. We really ran the ball well. The guys up front, they blocked extremely well."
Taylor added a third rushing touchdown when after finding no one open, he eluded a five-man rush and found a lot of green turf in front of him. He waltzed the final 10 yards on a 20-yard scramble for a score to put Buffalo up 23-7 early in the third quarter.
"When there's a five-man rush like that, it's a bunch of singles up front and you can't hold the ball for so long so, just tried to make a play with my feet and was able to get out on the edge and make a play," Taylor said.
Buffalo's yards per carry average of 6.5 was the highest since Week 15 last season when they averaged 7.74 per rush on a 240-yard rushing day in a loss at Washington.
"You saw us run downhill stuff, you saw what me, John (Miller), (Eric) Wood, (Cyrus) Kouandjio, (Ryan) Groy and Jordan Mills are good at doing," said Richie Incognito. "Just bodying people up. Giving Shady lanes to run. We feel like we can be physical with anyone in this league up front."