Pitt’s Nos. 6 and 7 all-time leading rushers faced off Sunday in Orchard Park, New York, as Dion Lewis and the New England Patriots hit the road to take on LeSean McCoy and the Buffalo Bills in an AFC East matchup.
In terms of individual contributions, the two dueled to a fairly even outcome. Lewis ran 15 times for 92 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry, while McCoy ran 15 times for 93 yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. However, there were two notable tie-breakers that could tip the contest to either player, depending on one’s point of view.
McCoy added nine yards on two catches, putting him at 102 yards for the day. With Sunday’s 100-yard game, he has now hit the century mark six times this season. Lewis, on the other hand, did not record any catches, leaving him at exactly 92 yards. However, his Patriots did manage to notch a 23-3 win, improving to 10-2 and dropping the Bills to 6-6.
On a more macro level, McCoy reached 851 rushing yards on the season Sunday and 9,805 for his career, putting him in striking distance of another 1,000-yard campaign and the career milestone of 10,000 rushing yards. He also complemented former Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman well when he replaced the injured Tyrod Taylor in the fourth quarter, as he broke off a few big runs for first downs.
It’s also worth noting that McCoy put on a great individual performance during Peterman’s ill-fated debut against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 11. Despite the rookie’s alarming five interceptions in that game, McCoy still managed 126 total yards and two touchdowns. He’s played well with both quarterbacks under center, but considering Peterman’s debut, the Bills could lean on Shady more moving forward if Taylor’s injury keeps him out for significant time.
For his part, Lewis is having a career year with the Patriots, as he’s emerged as the top running back in their committee, which also includes Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead and James White. Lewis leads the team in rushing yards (590) and rushing attempts (112) through Week 13, and with 5.3 yards per carry, he’s also set himself apart as the team’s most effective running back.
Despite entering the league in 2011, Lewis only topped 1,000 career rushing yards this season. That’s due in part to the fact that he started his career as a backup to McCoy in Philadelphia, where he saw just 36 carries over a span of two years. He then bounced to Cleveland and Indianapolis before landing in New England, where he dealt with injury issues in 2015 and 2016.
However, despite missing the first half of last season due to injury, Lewis came back in Week 11 and contributed to the Patriots’ Super Bowl campaign. He hasn’t missed a game since, and now that he’s healthy, Lewis looks poised to help the Patriots make another deep playoff run.
The former Panthers will meet again on Christmas Eve, when the Bills head to Gillette Stadium for a rematch.