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Bills LB Von Miller healthy scratch for win over Patriots

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills pass-rusher Von Miller was inactive for Sunday's 27-21 win over the New England Patriots. The win combined with the Miami Dolphins' 56-19 loss to the Baltimore Ravens means the Week 18 matchup between the Bills and Dolphins will be for the AFC East title.

Miller was a healthy scratch for the first time with the Bills in a coaching/football decision. He missed the first four games of the season as he worked his way back from right ACL surgery last December. Miller was out with the team on the field in pregame warmups and on the sideline during the game.

"That was a tough decision," Bills coach Sean McDermott said after the game. "Von's a pro. He's one of the leaders on our team, and I thought he did a phenomenal job on the sideline from a leadership standpoint with his teammates. He's a very important part of this team, and we have full confidence in him. And look forward to getting him back going forward here."

The game against the Patriots marked defensive end AJ Epenesa's return to the field after missing two games with a rib injury, and defensive end Kingsley Jonathan was active in place of Miller. The Bills' defense forced four turnovers, all in the first half, and sacked Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe three times.

In the 11 games Miller has played this season, he has 3 tackles, no sacks, 11 pressures and 3 quarterback hits. Miller, 34, is coming off a season-high percentage of snaps played against the Los Angeles Chargers last week (45.7%).

"Whatever decision that we go with, I'm OK with," Miller said Thursday. "I feel like I should be out there, I feel like I could still play, it's just I feel like I'm one play away from breaking through. I'm going to always follow these guys. They've always had my back and they've always guided me and directed me in great situations, and I'm not about to take outside advice right now. I'm following those guys, and whatever they want me to do, I'll do it."

Miller was arrested during the team's bye week in late November on a warrant for a charge of third-degree felony assault of a pregnant woman and posted $5,000 bond. He said this past week that the allegations are "100% false" and "overblown."

He had played in every game since the arrest until he was made inactive against the Patriots. General manager Brandon Beane said earlier this month that the team was going to follow the lead of the NFL and that "it's an open investigation and so we'll just, we'll let the legal process play out."

Miller is in the second year of a six-year, $120 million contract signed with the Bills in free agency in 2022.

While the Bills' passing offense had a frustrating day overall, and quarterback Josh Allen was 15-of-30 for 169 passing yards and an interception, the effort was enough to seal the win. On the final drive with two minutes remaining, Allen suffered a stinger on a 4-yard rush on third down that clinched the victory and was seen on the sideline receiving some attention. McDermott said after the game he had not yet talked with the athletic training staff.

"Little stinger. I've never felt one of those before so that's a little funky, but we're good to go," Allen said.