Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy (25), seen here against the New England Patriots earlier in the season, piled up 191 yards from scrimmage, 130 rushing and 61 on seven pass receptions as he averaged eight yards on his 24 touches during the Bills 38-24 loss to Oakland. File Photo by Matthew Healey/ UPI | License Photo
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- LeSean McCoy has played 113 games in his NFL career, but only twice before last week had he enjoyed a more prolific game than he had in Buffalo's 38-24 loss to Oakland.
McCoy piled up 191 yards from scrimmage, 130 rushing and 61 on seven pass receptions as he averaged eight yards on his 24 touches.
The only two games where he had more scrimmage yardage came during his time with Philadelphia, 221 yards in a victory over Detroit in 2013 (a career-high 217 of that on the ground), and 200 yards in a 2011 victory over Dallas (185 rushing).
By comparison, in his Hall of Fame career, ex-Bill Thurman Thomas, the franchise's all-time yards from scrimmage leader, had only three games where he totaled at least 191 yards from scrimmage.
That's the kind of performance this was, one that should have resulted in a clutch Bills' victory, one that would have kept them relevant in the AFC playoff chase.
Instead, it went for naught, and the Bills, who led by McCoy, rushed for 212 yards yet lost for only the 15th in 100 games in their history where they topped 200 yards rushing.
"There's a lot of guys who poured it all out, but the type of day he had, he'd be the AFC player of the week, many things that go with it," coach Rex Ryan said.
"But when you lose the game, he doesn't get the appropriate attention he would get if we had found a way to win that game. That's frustrating for him, but I know for LeSean it's all about the team and he'd rather trade that type of performance for a win and have a way less impact than having that kind of day in a loss."
McCoy came to the Bills in a surprising trade before the 2015 season. Admittedly, he was not happy leaving the Philadelphia Eagles. where he played the first six years of his NFL career.
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, he was very comfortable in Philadelphia, and the move to Buffalo took some getting used to. On the field, he battled injuries throughout 2015 and he rushed for only 895 yards in the 12 games he played.
This season, he has endured a couple injuries that forced him to miss the equivalent of two full games, yet he has surpassed his 2015 yardage total.
McCoy has 949 yards rushing which is sixth in the NFL, but his 5.5-yard average per carry is easily No. 1 among the top 25 rushers.
"It's not a wasted season," Ryan said when he was asked if McCoy's performance is going down the tubes for a team with a 6-6 record. "There's a reason we're still in this and he's a big reason why.
"The type of year he's had really is an amazing year, regardless of the record and we're were' at. He's having an unbelievable season or us."
McCoy played on some potent Philadelphia teams, and he enjoyed four 1,000-yard seasons including a league-high 1,607 yards in 2013, but he said this Buffalo running offense is the best he's been a part of.
"We do so many different things," McCoy said. "I'm sure the Steelers are preparing for tons of different plays that we run. We'll have a formation and we could run 5-6 different plays and the defense has to account for all of that.
"Other places I've been, you see a formation that you recognize from watching tape, 80 percent chance it's probably the play you'll get, and here it's different. And our quarterback is very mobile, he's very athletic so he helps out in the running game."
When the Bills host Pittsburgh this week, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said the place you start when it comes to defending the Bills is McCoy, a player he has watched for a long time.
"I've had the pleasure of knowing him since he was about 19 because he played next door here at Pitt," Tomlin said. "That's always defined his game, his competitive spirit. He loves the individual one-on-ones within the game of football, he most always wins them.
"He's just a tremendous competitor and a good natural instinct football player. He utilizes those instincts and he trusts those instincts and that's why he's the type of back he is averaging 5.5 per carry this year."
22nd regular-season meeting. Steelers lead series, 13-8. The last time the Steelers played in Buffalo, they pulled out a 19-16 overtime victory, a game remembered in Buffalo for a dropped pass in the end zone by wide open Stevie Johnson that would have won the game for the Bills, and then Johnson asking God why he'd let Johnson down like that. Pittsburgh won the last meeting, in 2013 at Heinz Field, 23-10.
--WR Percy Harvin's return to the NFL was abbreviated, and now it's over, at least for 2016. Harvin came out of retirement early in November to rejoin the Bills who were desperate for help at wide receiver. However, Harvin wound up playing only two games, catching two passes for six yards, then sitting out two games because of his recurring problem with migraines. Apparently, that situation wasn't improving, so the Bills officially ended Harvin's season by placing him on the non-football illness list. "I really don't know what it means," coach Rex Ryan said regarding Harvin's future in the NFL. "I know he is on that NFI right now and can't come back this year. That is what I know about it."
Harvin joined the Bills before the 2015 season and was looked upon as a player who would serve as a perfect addition to Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods in Buffalo's three-receiver formations. But Harvin played only five games last season because of knee and hip injuries, and then he announced in the offseason that he was retiring. He changed his mind when the Bills came calling, but it simply didn't work out for either side.
--The NFL's leading receiver, Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is coming to Buffalo on Sunday, and the Bills' top cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, is looking forward to the challenge. However, Gilmore won't always be lined up across from Brown because the Bills typically play sides, and Gilmore usually stays on the right while Ronald Darby lines up on the left. "I wish I could follow the best receiver, but whatever the coach wants me to do, I'll do," Gilmore said. "It's another good receiver this year I'm playing against. I went against a lot of great receivers and did my thing."
Gilmore, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, has had an up-and-down year. He's played very well in some games, but poorly in others. Browns has 88 receptions, tied with Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona for the NFL lead, and 1,052 yards, third behind Julio Jones of Atlanta and Mike Evans of Tampa Bay. Since he came into the NFL in 2010, Brown has the most receptions (614) and second-most receiving yards (8,145) of anyone in the league.
Coach Rex Ryan defended his philosophy on cornerbacks this way: "When you do have two really good corners, you feel great about, then most of the time ... they're really comfortable playing left and right. But, I will say this: Stephon is playing about as good as any corner in the league right now, probably. I mean, he's right there. The last three weeks, in particular, he's been absolutely outstanding. We'll see what we think. It's way too early to tell you who's going to match with who or whatever."
BY THE NUMBERS:
23 -- Rushing touchdowns by the Bills this season, third-most in team history. They had 26 in 1975 and 25 in 1964.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"I think this is the most dynamic run game I've been a part of. Obviously, Adrian (Peterson of Minnesota) had a great year (2012 when he rushed for 2,097 yards and Jamie Felton was his fullback), but just the different ways we can run the football, our schemes, I think probably it's the best that I've been around." -- FB Felton, on the Bills' No. 1-ranked running game.
CB Ronald Darby, who sat out the Oakland game because of a concussion, is expected back this week for the Steelers game. He practiced for the first time since getting hurt two weeks ago.
G John Miller was evaluated for a concussion in Oakland late in the game. He passed the tests and is expected to be ready for Pittsburgh.
WR Percy Harvin won't play the rest of the season, as he was placed on the non-football illness list due to his recurring problems with migraines.
LB Zach Brown continues to lead the Bills with 116 tackles, 10 of which have been for lost yardage, which also leads the team.
RB LeSean McCoy is closing in on the fifth 1,000-yard rushing season of his career, and first with the Bills.
QB Tyrod Taylor's six rushing touchdowns this season are the most by a Bills' quarterback since Daryle Lamonica had six in 1964.
LB Lorenzo Alexander continues to lead the Bills with 10 sacks, but he hasn't had any in the last three games.
WR Robert Woods (knee) is back working on a limited basis, but it seems unlikely that he will play this week.