The Buffalo Bills played a great offensive game versus one of the best defenses in the league. Going into this game, the Texans defense had only allowed 8.7 points/game over the last four outings. They held the Saints and Drew Brees to six points, the Jets to 17 points, the high flying Bengals to six points and the Titans to six points.
Their best player is defensive end J.J. Watt. Watt led the league going into the game with 67 total pressures on the QB. Of those 67 pressures, 13.5 were sacks according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). The guy is also a force in the run game. Watt had 43 solo stops leading up to the Week 13 matchup. So to say that Watt HAS to be accounted for on every play is an understatement.
Roman came up with a fantastic game-plan, but the lineman must get kudos for the execution of said game-plan. According to PFF, Watt ended the game with only 1 QB hurry, 1 solo tackle, 2 assists and 1 stop. Lets examine the different strategies that Roman utilized, and how the linemen executed it in the pivotal match-up from Week 13.
One of the ways the offensive line blocked Watt was by using the wham block. The wham block is a trap type block that lures the defender upfield. The defender thinks he is not blocked but then gets angle blocked by a lineman. The wham block on this play is performed by TE Chris Gragg from the backfield. Bills are in 12 personnel (1 RB 2 TEs).
Gragg goes low at Watt's legs and just gets enough of him to spring LeSean McCoy. The other key block was by Urbik and Wood. They doubled Wilfork then Wood went on to the second level defender.
On the second play of the game, the Bills use the wham block on Watt but this time with Jerome Felton. The Bills run their pin and pull sweep play and cut Watt off. Another key block is the block down by TE Clay, and the trap block by LT Cordy Glenn.
Trap block on the OLB executed, Richie Incognito pulls out front of McCoy. Take a look at Felton going low on Watt. Can't go anywhere without your legs.
Textbook cut block by Felton. Richie gets a piece of the ILB Cushing and McCoy bounces it outside.
Here is the Bills TD to Sammy Watkins. The Bills are in 11 personnel, but they bring in an extra lineman to help on Watt. They also send Shady over to assist. Sammy runs a fade, Hogan runs the a pivot out and Woods a fade.
Four hands and four eyes, textbook double team. Every defender accounted for.
Watt's spin move didn't work and Tyrod has a clean pocket to deliver.
Roman employs the unbalanced line with 21 personnel. Bills run zone read right at Watt.
Felton tries getting a piece of Watt, Watt give Incognito a wicked swim move sending the guard off balance.
Shady makes OLB Simon miss, and bounces it outside. Watt is down for the count.
Watt is totally out of the play as Shady gains a huge amount of yards.
Roman dials up a trick play. He again uses the unbalanced line with a wildcat formation. The Texans defense is in base defense cover 4 look.
Shady takes the wildcat snap, and hands it off to the WR on the jet sweep. The action forces Watt to rush to his left.
Thigpen then tosses it to Tyrod as Sammy goes deep. Watt is attacking and is eaten up by several blockers. They use his aggressiveness to get him blocked.
The safety makes a heck of a play and gets over the top of Sammy to get a piece of the ball.
Here is the same look. An unbalanced line wildcat look. Glenn vs. Watt is on display during the play.
Shady takes the snap and fakes the sweep to the WR. Watt is left unblocked. Felton wham blocks Jadeveon Clowney.
Watt tackles the WR and is not a factor on the wham run by Shady. Shady gets off-tackle and up field.
Here is a nickel look that the Texans utilized. The Bills attacked the Texans with base personnel most of the game. They were able to do so because they ran the ball well and stayed ahead of the chains. Bills are in 11 personnel so Watt is lined up in a wide 9 technique. Bills linemen execute a trap play. Wood and Urbik block down and they leave ILB Cushing free.
Richie pulls and kicks him out as Dixon gets up inside for a moderate gain on 3rd down. Notice how Watt's aggressive rush takes him right out of the play.
Remember Watkins' deep ball catch? Here is why it worked. Bills are in 21 personnel vs the Texans base defense. Notice Watt. The Bills align a TE and FB to his side. Sammy goes deep, Woods runs a deep in and Shady a checkdown out.
Glenn, Incognito and Felton lock up Watt. Clowney is neutralized by Charles Clay. Look at Taylor's eyes downfield and holding the safety (who's not looking).
Taylor's eyes keep the backside corner away from the play though. Taylor steps up, and drops a dime to Sammy. Taylor has the prettiest deep ball in the league, in my opinion. Look at how clean that pocket is.
The following play has worked very well against the Texans' defense this season. Bills bring in 22 personnel vs. the Texans' nickel defense. The Bills double team Watt with Mills and Mulligan. Urbik and Felton pull left and lead on the counter weak left.
Look at the double teams, and how everyone on the defense is accounted for as Urbik and Felton move left. Clay helps Glenn get control of Clowney, then moves onto the second level.
Urbik seals the edge vs. Clowney and Felton tries to kick out the alley defender. Shady gets inside and is tackled by the corner.
This is a beautifully designed QB trap play on 3rd down and 4. Bills are in 11 personnel so the defense is in nickel. Therefore you see Watt in a wide 9 technique outside. Richie is the star of this play. The defense is showing double A blitz but then bail out into coverage. Wood and Urbik block down. Mills fans out and lets Watt run by. Richie pulls and picks up #51 late, on the trap block.
Great recognition by Incognito. With everyone accounted for, Taylor gets six for the first down.
Bills are again in 11 personnel. Defense is in nickel and they run a nice game blitz. ILB Cushing (A gap rt) and OLB Mercilus (B gap rt) rush the passer. Cushing tries occupying Urbik and Mercilus attempts the same with Mills. LG and LT slide left and block one on one. Shady picks up left side A gap. His man bails into coverage.
Watt tries twisting around, but Wood has his head on a swivel. Look at that pocket.
The Bills properly slid protection to Watt's side, Wood picks him up. Mercilus does get pressure on Taylor so the QB escapes the pocket and gets rid of the ball.
On this play the Bills are in 11 personnel again. The defense is in nickel and because of how the Bills slide protection to Watt's side they counter with a twist to the left. This is the long pass to Watkins up the sideline. Look at the formation by the Bills. They empty the backfield and send Gillislee to the left edge to chip on Clowney. Watt aligns in a wide 9 technique, with Clay in the off-line position. The defense tries taking advantage of Wood who helped out on Watt the last play.
The right side triple teams Watt and Wood picks up the man over him as Incognito's guy twists behind him at Wood.
Wood gets a piece of him and pushes the defender by Taylor. Taylor shows phenomenal pocket presence, side steps the defender, and steps up.
A great individual play by Taylor allows him to get rid of the ball. Sammy burned Joseph on the play.
On this play, the Bills are backed up. Buffalo is in 12 personnel and Watt is aligned to the offense's right side. On the snap, Incognito pulls to his right and helps Mulligan block Watt.
Good thing Richie helped because Watt was coming free. Wood and Glenn set up the screen.
Here is some great teamwork by the line and the FB Felton. Bills align in an unbalanced formation with 21 personnel. Watt is lined up versus the Bills best offensive lineman in Glenn. The Bills linemen block zone right. The FB Felton leads through the back-side A gap.
Taylor hands it off to Shady as Felton finds the ILB and seals him. Glenn fans out as Watt rushes outside. Clay is holding his own vs. Clowney. Look at the hole. The line has everyone accounted for.
Taylor stays in a throwing posture which holds the safety and forced Watt to continue his rush upfield. Felton comes through with a powerful block to spring McCoy into the secondary.
The Bills are in 11 personnel and the Texans keep Watt at his normal 5 technique as Clowney aligns outside on the left. The Bills slide protection to Watt again. Mills has to help on Clowney who immediately beats Clay. So Urbik is out of position. It's a good thing that Wood's head is on a swivel.
Wood picks up Watt and it gives Taylor a clean pocket to throw.
Wood finishes Watt off as the throw is released.
Finally, the long TD to put the Bills ahead. Bills are in 22 personnel vs. the Texans base defense. Defense shows cover 3. TE motions and the defense shows zone. This is important for Taylor's read. Watt is aligned just inside the TE Mulligan. Sammy runs a deep out, Mulligan runs a deep clearing route and Clay delays and then runs a skinny post.
Taylor give a little shoulder dip on the snap. Protection slides to Watt's side. Felton, Incognito, and Glenn block the left side of the offense well.
Watt is doubled. Look at that pocket! Taylor sees the safety jump Mulligan's route.
Taylor delivers AGAIN! Clay catches it this time to put the Bills up late in the game.
As you can see, the Bills offense had a plan. A plan to account for Watt EVERY SINGLE PLAY. Roman utilized his personnel in a way that he knew where Watt would be aligned on just about every play. When the Bills used 12, 21 or 22 personnel Watt was aligned in his normal 3-4 defensive end position because Houston stayed in their base defense. Anytime the Bills went into passing downs or personnel such as 11 personnel, Houston put their nickel defense in and Watt aligned as a four down lineman defensive end usually in the 9 technique.
Roman and Aaron Kromer deserve kudos for their game-plan but the real credit goes to the offensive line. All week, analysts predicted that Watt would have several sacks because of the injured players missing from that starting unit. That said, Urbik and Mills filled in admirably. They and the whole starting unit worked together as a team and that led the Bills to a huge win against a vaunted Texans defense.