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Chiefs-Bills snap counts: Gay and Bolton lead LBs, McKinnon leads RBs

How did Kansas City use its players in the Divisional round game against Buffalo?

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In Sunday’s Divisional round game, the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills went toe-to-toe in what is likely to become one of the most memorable games in NFL postseason history — with the Chiefs emerging with a 42-36 overtime victory.

Let’s see how Kansas City used its players in the matchup.


Starters (offensive): WR Demarcus Robinson, WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce, LT Orlando Brown Jr., LG Joe Thuney, C Creed Humphrey, RG Trey Smith, RT Andrew Wylie, TE Blake Bell, QB Patrick Mahomes and RB Jerick McKinnon.

Starters (defensive): LDE Melvin Ingram, LDT Jarran Reed, RDT Chris Jones, RDE Frank Clark, LB Willie Gay Jr., LB Anthony Hitchens, LB Nick Bolton, LCB Charvarius Ward, S Juan Thornhill, S Tyrann Mathieu and RCB L’Jarius Sneed.

Did not play: QB Chad Henne, OL Austin Blythe and OL Kyle Long.

Inactive: QB Shane Buechele, WR Josh Gordon, CB Rashad Fenton, RB Darrel Williams, DE Joshua Kaindoh and T Prince Tega Wanogho.


Offensive takeaways


As we would expect, left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., left guard Joe Thuney, center Creed Humphrey, right guard Trey Smith and right tackle Andrew Wylie were on the field for all of the team’s offensive snaps. Nick Allegretti had a single snap as a sixth offensive lineman — and fullback Michael Burton was on the field for just two snaps. It was his lowest usage of the season — and interestingly, the previous low point was in the Week 5 game against the Bills.

At tight end, Travis Kelce, Blake Bell and Noah Gray were all in their normal ranges of use. But in comparison to recent weeks, there was less difference in their use on running and passing plays.

Although there had been some optimism that running back Darrel Williams might be able to play against the Bills, he was ultimately declared inactive — but starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire was back from his shoulder injury. But the Chiefs opted to use the recent hot hand — Jerick McKinnon — as the primary back, with Edwards-Helaire getting the rest of the snaps. Derrick Gore spent the offensive plays on the sidelines.

Among the wide receivers, Tyreek Hill once again had the most use. But as we have seen lately, it’s impossible to predict which of the remaining pass-catchers will be in line behind him. Against the Bills, it was Byron Pringle — followed by Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman. In the AFC championship against the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday, we could see an entirely different pattern.


Defensive takeaways


Safety Tyrann Mathieu — who is normally on the field for all of the defensive snaps — left the game after just seven plays. So safety Daniel Sorensen saw his highest usage since Week 5 against the Bills — the last game in which safety Juan Thornhill was held out of his normal starting role. According to Pro Football Focus data, Sorensen was used in an unusual way, with 21 of his snaps as a slot corner and three more on the outside; he was used as a free safety in just one of five defensive snaps. Armani Watts once again had a handful of defensive snaps — close to his highest usage of the season — mostly as a free safety.

Among the cornerbacks, L’Jarius Sneed was in for all of the defensive snaps — and Charvarius Ward missed just five when he was shaken up during the fourth quarter. But with Rashad Fenton once again missing the game with a back injury, Mike Hughes and Deandre Baker still had to carry a larger-than-usual load.

After being in the news following his misdemeanor arrest last Wednesday, few might have predicted that second-year linebacker Willie Gay Jr. would lead his position group in defensive snaps — but that’s what happened. Rookie Nick Bolton was in his normal range — while Anthony Hitchens saw his lowest usage since the Las Vegas Raiders game in Week 14. Dorian O’Daniel was on the field for two snaps — just the third time this season he’s been used on defense.

On the defensive line, the Chiefs leaned into their stars: defensive ends Frank Clark and Melvin Ingram — along with defensive tackles Chris Jones and Jarran Reed — were all on the high side of their normal ranges; Ingram saw his highest usage of the season. And for the first time this year, Jones was used almost exclusively on the inside. PFF data says that he had only five snaps lined up at defensive end.

That added up to lower usage for all of the rotational defensive linemen, all of whom matched (or fell below) season lows.


Data


Offense

Offense All Pass Run
Total 73
(100%)
46
(100%)
27
(100%)
Orlando Brown Jr. 73
(100%)
46
(100%)
27
(100%)
Creed Humphrey 73
(100%)
46
(100%)
27
(100%)
Patrick Mahomes 73
(100%)
46
(100%)
27
(100%)
Trey Smith 73
(100%)
46
(100%)
27
(100%)
Joe Thuney 73
(100%)
46
(100%)
27
(100%)
Andrew Wylie 73
(100%)
46
(100%)
27
(100%)
Travis Kelce 62
(85%)
40
(87%)
22
(81%)
Tyreek Hill 60
(82%)
39
(85%)
21
(78%)
Byron Pringle 55
(75%)
37
(80%)
18
(67%)
Jerick McKinnon 50
(68%)
33
(72%)
17
(63%)
Demarcus Robinson 46
(63%)
31
(67%)
15
(56%)
Mecole Hardman 31
(42%)
16
(35%)
15
(56%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 23
(32%)
13
(28%)
10
(37%)
Blake Bell 16
(22%)
8
(17%)
8
(30%)
Noah Gray 15
(21%)
9
(20%)
6
(22%)
Marcus Kemp 4
(5%)
3
(7%)
1
(4%)
Michael Burton 2
(3%)
1
(2%)
1
(4%)
Nick Allegretti 1
(1%)
0
(0%)
1
(4%)

Defense

Defense All Pass Run
Total 64
(100%)
40
(100%)
24
(100%)
L'Jarius Sneed 64
(100%)
40
(100%)
24
(100%)
Juan Thornhill 64
(100%)
40
(100%)
24
(100%)
Daniel Sorensen 59
(92%)
36
(90%)
23
(96%)
Charvarius Ward 59
(92%)
37
(93%)
22
(92%)
Frank Clark 55
(86%)
35
(88%)
20
(83%)
Chris Jones 50
(78%)
34
(85%)
16
(67%)
Melvin Ingram 48
(75%)
29
(73%)
19
(79%)
Jarran Reed 46
(72%)
29
(73%)
17
(71%)
Willie Gay Jr. 42
(66%)
24
(60%)
18
(75%)
Mike Hughes 40
(63%)
23
(58%)
17
(71%)
Nick Bolton 37
(58%)
24
(60%)
13
(54%)
Anthony Hitchens 27
(42%)
14
(35%)
13
(54%)
Ben Niemann 22
(34%)
16
(40%)
6
(25%)
Tershawn Wharton 21
(33%)
12
(30%)
9
(38%)
Armani Watts 17
(27%)
12
(30%)
5
(21%)
Alex Okafor 12
(19%)
7
(18%)
5
(21%)
Michael Danna 11
(17%)
7
(18%)
4
(17%)
Derrick Nnadi 11
(17%)
5
(13%)
6
(25%)
Deandre Baker 10
(16%)
9
(23%)
1
(4%)
Tyrann Mathieu 7
(11%)
5
(13%)
2
(8%)
Dorian O'Daniel 2
(3%)
2
(5%)
0
(0%)

Special Teams

Special Teams Snaps
Total 33
(100%)
Noah Gray 28
(85%)
Marcus Kemp 25
(76%)
Ben Niemann 25
(76%)
Armani Watts 25
(76%)
Dorian O'Daniel 24
(73%)
Zayne Anderson 22
(67%)
Daniel Sorensen 20
(61%)
Michael Burton 16
(48%)
Harrison Butker 15
(45%)
Blake Bell 14
(42%)
Derrick Gore 12
(36%)
Tommy Townsend 10
(30%)
James Winchester 10
(30%)
Daurice Fountain 10
(30%)
Byron Pringle 9
(27%)
Nick Allegretti 8
(24%)
Orlando Brown Jr. 8
(24%)
Creed Humphrey 8
(24%)
Trey Smith 8
(24%)
Joe Thuney 8
(24%)
Andrew Wylie 8
(24%)
Deandre Baker 7
(21%)
Michael Danna 5
(15%)
Derrick Nnadi 5
(15%)
L'Jarius Sneed 5
(15%)
Tershawn Wharton 5
(15%)
Anthony Hitchens 4
(12%)
Mike Hughes 4
(12%)
Alex Okafor 4
(12%)
Mecole Hardman 3
(9%)
Tyreek Hill 3
(9%)
Nick Bolton 2
(6%)
Charvarius Ward 2
(6%)
Jarran Reed 1
(3%)

All Snaps

All Snaps Off Def ST Total
Total 73
(100%)
64
(100%)
33
(100%)
170
(100%)
Nick Allegretti 1
(1%)
0
(0%)
8
(24%)
9
(5%)
Zayne Anderson 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
22
(67%)
22
(13%)
Deandre Baker 0
(0%)
10
(16%)
7
(21%)
17
(10%)
Blake Bell 16
(22%)
0
(0%)
14
(42%)
30
(18%)
Nick Bolton 0
(0%)
37
(58%)
2
(6%)
39
(23%)
Orlando Brown Jr. 73
(100%)
0
(0%)
8
(24%)
81
(48%)
Michael Burton 2
(3%)
0
(0%)
16
(48%)
18
(11%)
Harrison Butker 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
15
(45%)
15
(9%)
Frank Clark 0
(0%)
55
(86%)
0
(0%)
55
(32%)
Michael Danna 0
(0%)
11
(17%)
5
(15%)
16
(9%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 23
(32%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
23
(14%)
Willie Gay Jr. 0
(0%)
42
(66%)
0
(0%)
42
(25%)
Derrick Gore 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
12
(36%)
12
(7%)
Noah Gray 15
(21%)
0
(0%)
28
(85%)
43
(25%)
Mecole Hardman 31
(42%)
0
(0%)
3
(9%)
34
(20%)
Tyreek Hill 60
(82%)
0
(0%)
3
(9%)
63
(37%)
Anthony Hitchens 0
(0%)
27
(42%)
4
(12%)
31
(18%)
Mike Hughes 0
(0%)
40
(63%)
4
(12%)
44
(26%)
Creed Humphrey 73
(100%)
0
(0%)
8
(24%)
81
(48%)
Melvin Ingram 0
(0%)
48
(75%)
0
(0%)
48
(28%)
Chris Jones 0
(0%)
50
(78%)
0
(0%)
50
(29%)
Travis Kelce 62
(85%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
62
(36%)
Marcus Kemp 4
(5%)
0
(0%)
25
(76%)
29
(17%)
Patrick Mahomes 73
(100%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
73
(43%)
Tyrann Mathieu 0
(0%)
7
(11%)
0
(0%)
7
(4%)
Jerick McKinnon 50
(68%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
50
(29%)
Ben Niemann 0
(0%)
22
(34%)
25
(76%)
47
(28%)
Derrick Nnadi 0
(0%)
11
(17%)
5
(15%)
16
(9%)
Dorian O'Daniel 0
(0%)
2
(3%)
24
(73%)
26
(15%)
Alex Okafor 0
(0%)
12
(19%)
4
(12%)
16
(9%)
Byron Pringle 55
(75%)
0
(0%)
9
(27%)
64
(38%)
Jarran Reed 0
(0%)
46
(72%)
1
(3%)
47
(28%)
Demarcus Robinson 46
(63%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
46
(27%)
Trey Smith 73
(100%)
0
(0%)
8
(24%)
81
(48%)
L'Jarius Sneed 0
(0%)
64
(100%)
5
(15%)
69
(41%)
Daniel Sorensen 0
(0%)
59
(92%)
20
(61%)
79
(46%)
Juan Thornhill 0
(0%)
64
(100%)
0
(0%)
64
(38%)
Joe Thuney 73
(100%)
0
(0%)
8
(24%)
81
(48%)
Tommy Townsend 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
10
(30%)
10
(6%)
Charvarius Ward 0
(0%)
59
(92%)
2
(6%)
61
(36%)
Armani Watts 0
(0%)
17
(27%)
25
(76%)
42
(25%)
Tershawn Wharton 0
(0%)
21
(33%)
5
(15%)
26
(15%)
James Winchester 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
10
(30%)
10
(6%)
Andrew Wylie 73
(100%)
0
(0%)
8
(24%)
81
(48%)
Daurice Fountain 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
10
(30%)
10
(6%)

Editor’s Note: Arrowhead Pride obtains snap count data from the NFL’s game stats and information system, which allows us to break out snap counts by run or pass on offensive and defensive plays. Because GSIS data ignores plays that were nullified by penalties, total offensive and defensive snap counts will vary from other sources, which get their data from NFL Gamebooks