Vontaze Burfict is back!
He was, actually, back last week, but he made his presence crystal clear this week as his team-leading 13 tackles and 1 sack played a big role in a strong defensive day for the Bengals against the Bills.
Burfict was all over the field making play after play as the Bengals held the Bills to 16 points and a total of 248 yards on offense. LeSean McCoy was held in check, compiling just 63 yards on 19 rushing attempts and the top receiver on the day was tight end Nick O'Leary. No, you’re not alone if you’d never heard of O’Leary heading into Sunday.
O'Leary played a big role in the game after fellow tight end Charles Clay left the game injured. Interestingly (though unsurprisingly) Clay was the second leading receiver on the Bill's roster with 31 yards.
“We did good,” Burfict said after the game. “We did good all week. We knew what we had against us. We had to stop McCoy and (Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor). We did a good job of talking about the scheme, and who had the quarterback and stuff like that.”
Taylor had an unspectacular day, completing 20/37 passes for 166 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception (63.6 passer rating). He was sacked once by Burfict and a total of six times on Sunday as the Bengals had their second game this season with at least six sacks.
“With the weather, with it raining, we figured we would stop the run and try to make them one—dimensional by throwing the ball. They made a great throw in the end zone, and I don’t think he could make that throw twice,” Burfict said.
Burfict was the Bengals highest graded player in Pro Football Focus’ metrics for Week 5. Per the analytics service, he contributed positively in all aspects, except pass rushing where he didn't record a pressure on his single pass rushing snap. In the run game, Burfict had five tackles, one assist, one missed tackle, and three stops, (which constitutes a "loss" on the play for the offense) on 21 run snaps leading to a 14.3 percent stop rate, fourth best in the NFL on Sunday. In the passing game, Burfict allowed two receptions on three targets for 12 yards on 42 coverage snaps, leading him to a 0.29 yards per cover snap, good for third best among linebackers with 16 or more coverage snaps on Sunday.
Whether it was tackling McCoy, sacking Taylor or tracking down the ball wherever else it was on the field, Burfict had a great game against the Bills, and a game that demonstrates why the Bengals signed him to a $32,534,000 contract extension this summer. Last week, Burfict was penalized for unnecessary roughness on DeShone Kizer, but the NFL did not fine him for it, signaling he shouldn’t have actually been flagged. If it were a valid flag, he would have been fined, per the league policy. Marvin Lewis did have some talks with Burfict about that this week, though he said he didn’t have enough time to discuss that with the media after the Bills game on Sunday.
“We don’t have enough time in here for my conversations with Vontaze,” Lewis said.
Burfict and Lewis had another talk during the closing minutes of Sunday’s game.
“We did have a moment — we have a lot of moments,” Lewis said of his talk with Burfict. “It was good. He told me I had to enjoy it (the win)... We don’t remember the wins. Unfortunately, we remember the other side of them too much.”
Burfict offered a little more perspective on that talk, but didn’t want to divulge too much.
“It was a laughing matter between me and Marvin,” Burfict said. “It was 1:20 left and I figured they weren’t getting the ball back. I came over and chest bumped Marvin and he didn’t show any excitement. I was like, ‘Enjoy it.’ That’s two games in a row, and we get to go on the bye and get people healthy.”
After the game, Burfict was told by reporters that he was “spectacular” in the win. But, he acknowledged he’s more interested in the team effort and winning games than his individual stats.
“I am more concerned about the win,” he said. “At the end of the day, I could have 20 tackles and a loss, and everyone would want to talk about the 20 tackles. But you know I am here to help the team win.”
Next up, Burfict and the Bengals will have a bye week followed by a Week 7 matchup with the Steelers. Hopefully Burfict will help the Bengals win in a big way in Pittsburgh.