Bills shut down Mahomes, Chiefs with ferocious defensive line

Buffalo Bills

It worked for the Bucs in the Super Bowl and it worked for the Bills on Sunday night

Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes (55) and Buffalo Bills defensive end Boogie Basham (96) tackle Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021 in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — Zero. That’s the number of times that the Bills blitzed Patrick Mahomes in their win against Kansas City on Sunday night.

“I’m not saying that will always be the strategy, but for this game that was the right thing to do,” said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, it was also the strategy last year in the regular season. In Buffalo’s Week 6 game the Chiefs Frazier blitzed zero times as well. It’s the only two games that Next Gen Stats has tracked where a QB was never blitzed.

“This was unusual, but for this opponent, it was the right thing to do,” Frazier added. The more we studied Kansas City and their offense and just watching Mahomes and how he operated versus pressure, it just created a lot of problems for defenses because of his ability to see things and identify them early and make you pay for bringing pressure.”

It was so unusual, in fact, that Frazier wrote “be patient” on his call sheet to make sure he stuck to the plan.

“They might make a play here or there, but stay with the plan and let our players play and they did a great job.”

The Bills were much more effective in defending Mahomes on Sunday night than in the 2020 regular season game, where the Chiefs won 26-17 and racked up 245 yards on the ground.

A big part of their effort was the play of rookies Gregory Rousseau and Boogie Basham, as well as the impact of Star Lotulelei who opted out of the 2020 season.

“You need your defensive line to really have a great outing,” said Frazier. “This quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, he is a tough, tough dude to corral and contain. He’s so explosive and he can do so many things. Our d-line did a great job of finding ways to contain him and to be able to get some hits on him as well.”

When you only rush four defensive linemen, obviously the advantage is that you have seven players in coverage to defend the pass. But the biggest advantage might be what it allowed Frazier to do pre-snap.

“You can manipulate the quarterback to a degree by showing him some different looks because you’ve got more people in coverage,” said Frazier. “Sometimes he may think you’re playing a single-high defense when you’re actually playing a split-safety defense or vice-versa. We’re able to do more things and give them different looks when you have more people in coverage than when you’re bringing pressure.”

“Against a really, really good quarterback like Patrick, they identify, they know exactly where to go with the ball, presnap,” added Frazier. “Then you’re kind of at peril if you don’t have great matchups. So having more guys in coverage and having the ability to be able to rush with four can allow you to manipulate the coverage a little bit. That helped us last night. We weren’t predictable because we were able to give them different looks with more people in coverage.”

That was the main formula the Buccaneers used to take down the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. If the Bills want to get to the Super Bowl, it might be the strategy they use one more time to take down Mahomes in the playoffs.

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