It wasn't an opening day fluke. The Buffalo Bills continued their dominant ways by thrashing the Jacksonville Jaguars 38-17 on a hot and steamy day in northern Florida. With their second straight lopsided victory, the Bills remain on top of the AFC East with a 2-0 record.
The Bills came out of the chute for the second straight week, scoring on their first two possessions. Drew Bledsoe once again was torrid on a field where the surface temperature reached 110 degrees. Bledsoe hit 19 completions out of 25 for 314 yards and two strikes. Once again, the Bills offensive line afforded Bledsoe plenty of time to pass and he wasn't sacked by the Jaguars.
Shaw's 54 yard touchdown key play
With the score 14-7 Bills, the play of the game came in the second quarter when Bledsoe hooked up with Bobby Shaw for a 54-yard touchdown. Shaw got wide open and Bledsoe threaded the needle. The Bills scored on a similar play in the third quarter when Eric Moulds broke free on a 36-yard touchdown strike. Moulds had a stellar game, catching 7 for 133 yards and the one touchdown.
Bledsoe split up the passing pretty evenly amongst his receivers, as Shaw had 3 receptions for 81 yards, Josh Reed had 5 for 71 and tight end Mark Campbell had 3 for 38 yards. Campbell opened the game with a great grab of a 13 yard pass from Bledsoe. As soon as he caught it, he was jarred with a helmet-to-helmet hit that could be heard throughout the stadium. Just hanging onto the ball was impressive, but coming up unhurt was astounding.
Fourth and stupid
The Bills have had "Fourth and stupid" play the last two seasons. Sunday, was the third edition of coaching stupidity on a fourth down.
With the Bills up 14-0, coach Gregg Williams made a call that could have cost Buffalo the game. They had the ball on their 43 with fourth and 2. Instead of punting the ball deep into Jacksonville territory with the powerful leg of Bills punter Brian Moorman, Williams decided to go for it. The Bills came out with a very unconventional formation with Sammy Morris under center, 3 linemen and the receivers spread out on both sides. The Jaguars were not caught by surprise and stopped Morris in his tracks. That turned the momentum of the game completely around and the Jags proceeded to march down the field to get within striking distance when Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell snuck over on 4th and goal from one yard out.
The Jaguars were able to stop the Bills offense on the next possession and came marching down the field once again. This time, the Bills defense stiffened and forced the Jags to attempt a 48 yard field goal which went wide right.
Going for it from their own side of the 50 on fourth down was not the most intelligent thing Williams could do. But if you are going to go for it, at least come out with your regular lineup and a decent plan of making it. The Bills should have stacked the line with Sam Gash leading the way for Travis Henry. Using a sandlot formation and having your emergency quarterback/running back take the handoff was pure absurdity.
Said Williams after the game, "We didn't execute it very well. At that point in the game, we were hoping we could sneak it, and we didn't get the ball snuck. I'll make sure next time, we don't do that."
There better not be another Fourth and stupid next time.
Henry scores 3 TDs, but has little else
Henry, outside of hitting the endzone in stride 3 times, had a miserable game. He gained a mere 26 yards on 21 carries for a measly 1.2 average. He had touchdown runs of 1, 6 and 4 yards, so that indicates the negative yardage he had the rest of the game. However, Henry cannot be faulted completely for his lackluster performance. The run blocking was nonexistent and that is one phase of the Bills offensive game that needs plenty of work if the Bills are to continue to be undefeated after next week's game in Miami. While the O'line was splendid in pass protection, allowing Bledsoe all day to look for receivers, Henry didn't get much if any support. He also found himself running laterally instead of forward, thus losing a ton of yardage on numerous plays.
Joe Burns, the third string running back, did some mop up work when the game was well in hand and looked much better than Henry, gaining 22 yards on 7 carries, with a long gain of 9 yards.
The Bills tried their best to go to a balanced offense, but with Henry having his worst day in a long time, Bledsoe was forced to go to the air more than the Bills had planned.
"If teams are going to commit to stopping the run, then we can throw the ball," confided Bledsoe. "I have confidence in the guys I'm throwing to."
Bills D's shutout streak ends
The Bills defense's shutout streak ended in the second quarter when Brunell snuck over from one yard out on a fourth down. They had allowed Fred Taylor to get loose on a 28 yard scamper to the Bills 2 yard line after that "Fourth and stupid" play set the Jags up in great field position. The D came through and shutdown the running of Taylor on an impressive goal line stand, but on 4th down, the Jaguars went for it. Brunell went back as if he were going to pass and then headed though a nice gap in front of him to break the goose egg.
On the whole, the Bills defensive picked right up where it left off with the Patriots. They allowed 95 yards on the ground and 191 through the air. Brunell was 19 out of 33 for 121, but then in the Jaguars last drive, Byron Leftwich drove Jacksonville down the field completing 7 of 8 for 92 yards and the Jaguars second touchdown.
Stage set for showdown in Miami
The Bills won't get too much rest from the Florida heat as they head right back down to Miami for next Sunday night's game. The Dolphins beat the Jets, so they are just one game behind the Bills. Buffalo swept the series last year, so the Fish want some revenge.
The Bills had some trouble containing Fred Taylor, so they may have a long day corralling Ricky Williams next week. Williams ran wild against the Bills last season in a losing cause. The Bills will have to get an even greater effort from their defense in Miami if they want to preserve their unbeaten streak.
Copyright © 2003 Bills Thunder & Rick Anderson, all rights reserved.
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