Bills Rule Out Key Offensive Starter for Showdown With Patriots

Dion Dawkins

Getty Dion Dawkins looks to make a block in a Buffalo Bills game against the Green Bay Packers.

The Buffalo Bills‘ trip to New England may have just grown a bit more difficult.

The Bills announced on November 30 that starting left tackle Dion Dawkins would not be able to play in their Thursday Night Football matchup with the Patriots. Dawkins had hurt his ankle in the team’s 28-25 win over the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, and he was held out of practice this week. His absence could put Buffalo’s offense at a disadvantage for a key divisional game against a defensive-minded opponent.

Dawkins Ruled Out

The Bills announced that both Dawkins and edge rusher Von Miller were ruled out for Thursday’s game. While Miller’s absence was known given the recovery time needed for his knee injury, there had been hope that Dawkins might have recovered from an ankle injury in time for the game.

After going down before halftime, Dawkins was replaced by veteran David Quessenberry for the second half of the team’s November 24 win over the Lions. Quessenberry could be in line to start against the Patriots on Thursday.

After the offense had hit some uncharacteristic struggles earlier in the season — with quarterback Josh Allen throwing six interceptions over a three-game stretch — the Bills had steadied in consecutive wins over the Cleveland Browns and Lions. That came in part due to a resurgent rushing game, with the Bills averaging 170 yards on the ground over the course of the last three games.

Dawkins may not be the only big body the Bills are missing on Thursday. The team could be without tight end Quintin Morris, who was listed as questionable with an illness.

Bills Reach Critical Stretch

The 8-3 Bills are entering a critical stretch of the season, with four divisional games remaining and the Miami Dolphins holding a tie-breaker to give them the lead in the AFC East. The Bills have lost both of their divisional games so far this season, and Allen stressed the importance of reversing that trend to end the season.

“Division games, you’ve got to win them,” Allen said. “We know our record this year in them. It’s not easy going on the road and playing in division games. We’ve got to understand that and be ready for again, a hostile environment. So that’s why this week of practice is so important for us to establish a game plan that we feel comfortable with. So come Thursday night we can kind of play freely and be ready for that. You’ve got to win your division games.”

Thursday’s game against the Patriots could be a major test, especially with Dawkins out of the lineup. The Patriots have an aggressive defense, ranking second in the league with 37 sacks. As the Bills’ team website noted, Matthew Judon has 13 of those sacks, with 10 of those coming in home games.

While Gillette Stadium was a black hole for the Bills during Tom Brady’s reign at quarterback, they have fared much better there in recent years. The Bills have won both meetings in New England since Brady left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, averaging more than 35 points in their wins.