ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The New England Patriots decisively turned to running back Dion Lewis in the sixth game of the season (Oct. 15, vs. Jets) and haven't looked back. Lewis has made sure to give them no reason to.
Consider this contrast:
First five games: 12.8 offensive snaps per game
Next seven games: 26.5 offensive snaps per game
When asked how he feels about his extended workload, a smiling Lewis said with a touch of humor: "Same way I look. I feel good."
The 5-foot-8, 195-pound Lewis is running as well as he ever has, finishing Sunday's win against the Bills with 92 yards on 15 carries (6.1 avg.). The combination of Lewis, Rex Burkhead and James White has the Patriots' running attack clicking, with Mike Gillislee having been a healthy scratch each of the past four games.
Lewis' workload leads off this week's snap-count analysis:
The Patriots opened the game in a run-based package but with White, their "passing back," as the running back. That was a twist from coordinator Josh McDaniels, as White's playing time increased from recent weeks. White's snap count in each of the past four games: 11, 17, 18, 28.
James Develin: 17
The lead-blocking fullback continues to make a strong case for his first Pro Bowl berth.
Rob Gronkowski: 65
Dwayne Allen: 37
The running game was a big part of the Patriots' success, and the tight ends are often play a significant role in that (e.g. Burkhead's 31-yard run with strong blocking on the right side).
Brandin Cooks: 68
Phillip Dorsett: 48
Danny Amendola: 32
It was a quiet day for the receivers, with Cooks and Amendola having just two catches apiece, and Dorsett not even targeted.
LT Nate Solder: 70
LG Joe Thuney: 68
C David Andrews: 70
RG Shaq Mason: 70
RT Cameron Fleming: 68
LG Ted Karras: 2
RT Cole Croston: 2
Andrews returned after missing two games because of illness and there didn't seem to be any issues with the shotgun snap. The strength of the line seemed to be on the right side with Mason and Fleming.
Tom Brady: 68
Brian Hoyer: 2
Hoyer came in for the final two kneel-downs to close out the game.
Malcom Brown: 44
Lawrence Guy: 37
Alan Branch: 27
Adam Butler: 20
Brown had returned last week and played 26 of 61 snaps as he worked his way back into the mix, and his increase in workload against the Bills shows how his conditioning and stamina is increasing after missing three games with an ankle injury. He showed up with several disruptive plays.
Deatrich Wise Jr.: 58
Eric Lee: 57
Lee is quite the story: Signed off the Bills practice squad on Nov. 21, he was thrust into a starting role and played well in place of Trey Flowers, who was out with a rib injury.
Elandon Roberts: 47
Marquis Flowers: 35
David Harris: 25
Kyle Van Noy: 15
Van Noy, who usually plays every snap, was utilized only in obvious passing situations as he was trying to play through a calf injury. He limped off after contributing to a second-half sack and didn't play the rest of the way, as his status bears watching this week against the Dolphins.
Malcolm Butler: 66
Jonathan Jones: 57
Stephon Gilmore: 53
Eric Rowe: 15
Rowe was active for the first time since Oct. 1 against the Panthers, and was integrated into the mix early in the third quarter when he subbed in for Gilmore.
Patrick Chung: 60
Devin McCourty: 56
Duron Harmon: 30
Jordan Richards: 26
McCourty had only been taken off the field for one snap through the first 11 games, so it was different to see him on the sideline at one point in the middle of the game.