Buffalo Bills defensive end Kyle Moore is halfway to earning offseason bragging rights with fellow University of Southern California alumnus Reggie Bush.
“I see him down in Miami when I’m training in the offseason, and we have fun talking smack here and there,” Moore said Friday.
Moore helped the Bills win the first round of their season series with the Dolphins on Thursday night, playing a strong game in Buffalo’s 19-14 victory.
Moore was part of a defensive front that limited Bush to just 20 yards on 10 carries. Moore also had one sack and three pressures on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
It was the best showing of the year for Moore, who has seen increased playing time over the past five games due to injuries to both Mark Anderson and Chris Kelsay.
“Kyle has really made a lot of improvement,” said Bills coach Chan Gailey. “Kyle’s played the run a lot better. We always knew he could rush the passer pretty good, but he’s learned to play the run a lot better, and that’s been a boon for our football team.”
Moore was viewed as a pass-rush specialist when the entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick of Tampa Bay in 2009. He was miscast in a 3-4 defense with the Bucs, got hurt, and was discarded after just two seasons. The Bills signed him off Detroit’s practice squad last November.
At 6-foot-6, 263 pounds, Moore has exceptionally long arms and is well suited to keeping offensive tackles away from his body in pass-rush situations. He has been working on improving his run defense techniques.
The Dolphins wanted to get Bush to the outside, and the Bills’ ends – Mario Williams, Moore and Shawne Merriman – did a good job of setting the edge of the defense.
“Last year he ran for 200 some on us,” Moore said of Bush. “So that was a main focus, not letting him bounce out and get on the edge, like he likes to do. … He’s a perimeter runner. He’ll shoot down the middle if he has to, but if he can get to that edge, he will. Our D-tackles helped a lot, holding down the double-teams.”
“You can’t get caught looking inside, because as soon as you peek your head inside, he’s right back outside.”
The Bills’ pass rush has needed a boost, due to a knee injury that has kept Anderson out the past five games and a neck injury that has sidelined Kelsay the past two. Moore offers versatility because he can rush from either side.
Moore put a big hit on Tannehill late in the second quarter on a roll-out pass.
“If you can hit 'em early and get 'em to stop the bootleg, now what else do they have to go to?” Moore said. “There was another one right after that where I came in and just barely missed his arm.”
Moore’s sack came in the middle of the fourth quarter, but he grabbed Tannehill’s facemask while dragging him down and was called for a personal foul. On Miami’s second-last drive, Moore got big pressure around left tackle and forced Tannehill into the path of Merriman for a sack. Jairus Byrd intercepted a Tannehill pass on the next play.
“I should have had a couple more sacks in that game, but it all works together,” Moore said. “They’re hard to come by. I wish I didn’t get that facemask on that play but it is what it is. I know I’ve got to get my hands down.”
Moore averaged 26 snaps a game the three games after Anderson got hurt. He played 64 against New England, which was the first start of his career, and 47 against the Dolphins.
If he can keep up the pressure, he figures to see quality playing time even when Anderson and Kelsay return.