Sports

Bills are stingy in having just 6 giveaways in 11 games

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Given his occasional ball-in-one-hand running style, LeSean McCoy acknowledges he's not the best person to turn to in pinpointing why the Buffalo Bills have committed so few turnovers this season.

"I would be lying to you if I just told you we do some super thing to protect the ball," the Bills running back said. "There ain't no secret."

And yet, McCoy and Co. must be doing something right because the Bills have been so proficient at protecting the ball, most of the team's game-day giveaways are coming from the promotions department.

Buffalo's six turnovers are the fewest through 11 games in NFL history. The previous low over that span was eight shared by five teams, most recently Kansas City last year. The single-season record is 10, set by New England in 2010 and matched by San Francisco the following season.

McCoy doesn't have a giveaway in the 167 times he's touched the ball. He's had three fumbles, with each one recovered by the Bills — including two by offensive tackle Jordan Mills.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is responsible for five turnovers, with four interceptions and a lost fumble. The only other miscue was made by rookie running back Jonathan Williams losing a fumble in the final minutes of a 45-16 win over San Francisco on Oct. 16.

The Bills (6-5), who prepare to play at AFC West-leading Oakland (9-2) on Sunday, have had six turnover-free games this season in already matching last season's total.

Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack is impressed by how few times Buffalo has turned it over.

"They do things consistently, they're fundamentally sound," Mack said. "But at the same time, it's all about us. And the challenge for us is to make them give us the ball."

The key is staying patient, said Mack, who returned an interception for a touchdown in a 35-32 win over Carolina on Sunday.

"The opportunities will come," he said. "As long as you stop the run and be consistent in your pass-rushing and your pass coverage, everything will work itself out."

Coach Rex Ryan credits Taylor, whose four interceptions are tied for the third-lowest total among quarterbacks with 300 or more attempts.

"I think our quarterback in particular is vastly under-rated in that area," Ryan said. "He's not being careless with the football, so he understands it."

The knock against Taylor is that he has at times been criticized for being too conservative in making safe, shorter passes than attempting longer passes into one-on-one coverages. Taylor is averaging just 6.7 yards per completion, which puts him 23rd among quarterbacks with 300 or more attempts.

Ryan defended Taylor by saying it's wrong referring to him as "a game manager."

"I get it. Our numbers aren't very good yardage-wise or whatever," Ryan said. "But I think the main thing is your pass-efficiency. And I think sometimes that's a little higher rated than what the yardage should be."

Taylor said there are times he does take chances.

"It's my job to take calculated risks, but at the same time be smart with where I'm going with the football," Taylor said. "Turnovers definitely don't lead to good things in this league."

With Buffalo's defence forcing 14 takeaways (eight interceptions and six forced fumbles), the team ranks fourth in the league with a plus-8 turnover differential. It's also a plus that Buffalo's defence has limited opponents to scoring just two field goals off six turnovers.

Linebacker Zach Brown said Buffalo's defence has benefited from how well the offence has protected the ball.

Brown, however, placed the onus on the defence for not doing enough to play its part.

Then again, in the big picture, he said, the objective is to win games, not set records for fewest turnovers.

"Who cares about that record?" Brown said. "The records and stuff, it's good to break them. But at the end of the day, we're just trying to make sure we get some Ws."

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