After officially being eliminated from the playoffs in week 15, the Buffalo Bills had nothing to play for against the injured-riddled 4-10 Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys were on to their 4th starting quarterback of the season after Tony Romo broke his collarbone, and then broke it again. Dez Bryant was also was forced to sit out due to a nagging injury. The Bills also were dealing with a lot of injuries as well, so it was a sloppy game that resembled a preseason contest with the amount of backups on the field. However, the Bills were the better team and managed to barely snatch a victory in a 16-6 win. Here’s four observations from the game.
No LeSean McCoy? No problem.
After suffering an MCL injury, LeSean McCoy was unable to suit up. This gave the Bills the opportunity to give extra reps to rookie Karlos Williams and Mike Gillislee, who’s been a pleasant surprise. Williams was a 5th round pick from Florida State who coming into the game had 7 touchdowns mostly as a backup. Gillislee was a fifth-round pick by the Miami Dolphins in the 2013 NFL Draft and spent time with the Arizona Cardinals before the Bills signed him to their practice squad last month. He seized the opportunity and has shown great speed and vision these last few weeks, likely securing himself a spot on the 2016 roster.
Between Williams and Gillislee they carried the ball 26 times that gained 169 yards and two touchdowns. They also accounted for four catches with 37 receiving yards. Williams showed power and patience, while Gillislee proved just how fast and explosive he can be. The two were an excellent combo in the absence of McCoy.
No Dez Lewis or Nick O’Leary
During the week leading up to the game it was discovered that Charles Clay would sit out, letting Nick O’leary to get some playing time as he did last week. Robert Woods was placed on Injured Reserve, which led many to believe that two late round picks from the 2015 draft would get a chance to showcase their skills.
They did not play that much– Lewis played just nine snaps and O’Leary played 12– and didn’t have that much of an impact. The Bills should consider playing these guys in week 17 in order to see them in real situations and gauge their future roles for the upcoming seasons.
Sammy Watkins continues to dominate.
Since week 9, Sammy Watkins has the 2nd most receiving yards with 764 on 38 receptions, trailing only Antonio Brown. Both Robert Woods and Charles Clay were out so the Cowboys put their focus on Watkins but it still wasn’t enough, as Watkins racked up 5 catches for 84 yards. This is impressive considering how they ran it almost 40 times in the game, and how much attention Dallas’ defense paid to him.
However, Watkins blossoming into this type of receiver with Tyrod Taylor is too little too late for this season, but he’s been offering an exciting preview of what could come next season with another offseason under his belt.
Stefan Charles Flashed
Although he doesn’t show up on the box score that often, Stefan Charles looked good on Sunday against one of the better offensive lines in the league. He’s a big guy that knows how to use his hands. He played 24 snaps and generated one pressure on 11 pass rushes. He often get overshadowed by the talented group of defensive linemen surrounding him, which is why he doesn’t get as much recognition he deserves.
He has stepped up when Kyle Williams and Alex Carrington went out with injuries. Charles makes for a good rotational player and provides good depth for a Bills’ defense that has been ravaged by injuries.