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Week 5: Tale Of Two Halves Offensively
First half meltdown washed away by comeback
by Steve Saslow

It was a struggle but the Bills were able to prevail against the Bengals. The offense did nothing in the first half as they held the ball for more than four plays only once before intermission. They got it going in time to barely save the game. The defense played strong once again and a bone headed special teams play helped the Bengals get their only touchdown. Our position by position grades reflect the up and down performance in this game:

Quarterback:

Drew Bledsoe finished with respectable stats going 19 for 35 for 211 yards and a touchdown with no picks. In the first half he completed just five passes in 17 attempts for 45 yards. He ran two perfect drives late in the game, the tying field goal drive was calmly run and the winning scoring drive in overtime was vintage Bledsoe. Grade C+: F before halftime, B after the break.

Running Backs:

Travis Henry showed a warrior mentality. Despite hurting ribs he ran for the winning touchdown and scored the other touchdown on a reception. He ran the ball 25 times for 85 yards, not a great average but he showed persistence and toughness. Joe Burns had one carry and lost five yards. Sam Gash was used as a receiver and was even split wide a few times. He caught three passes for 32 yards and had some good lead blocks for Henry. Grade B: Got the running game going a little bit late in the game.

Receivers:

Eric Moulds was a warrior also, despite a hurting groin muscle he had nine catches for 99 yards. His 19 yarder on 4th and 3 and 28 yarder in overtime that "popped" his groin was clutch. Josh Reed continues his struggles he dropped a screen pass that would have went for an easy touchdown. He caught just one pass for 20 yards. Bobby Shaw was quiet with just three catches for 26 yards but he did have a big 14 yard completion on third and 11 on the tying field goal drive. Mark Campbell only caught one pass but it was in overtime and it got the Bills in position to win. He did allow a sack. Grade B: Did the job in crunch time.

Offensive Line:

The line struggled in pass protection and in run blocking most of the game. They allowed four sacks including two in back to back plays. Mike Williams gave up three on his side of the ball but the tight end may be to blame for one of them. The running game started to work a bit late, Henry ran behind Jonas Jennings and Ruben Brown for the winning score. Grade C-: The unit is overrated at this point.

Defensive Line:

Pat Williams was on fire early getting three stops in the Bengals backfield. He finished with 8 tackles. Sam Adams sprained his ankle and missed the second half. He was replaced by Ron Edwards who had three tackles. Aaron Schobel had an interception when he dropped into coverage during a zone blitz. Ryan Denney quietly was in on five tackles. Grade B+: Held the Bengals running game to 67 yards.

Linebackers:

London Fletcher had six tackles and missed a few plays after getting banged up. Josh Stamer replaced him and had two tackles. Takeo Spikes was fired up for his old team and had a big stop in the backfield and was in on 10 tackles. Jeff Posey again was quiet but he did have a half of sack and five tackles. Grade B+: Were all over the field and held the Bengals at Bay.

Secondary:

Nate Clements was beaten in coverage many times by Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick. Antoine Winfield was beaten also as the corners played back in coverage most of the game. He did have 12 tackles as he helped in run support. Lawyer Milloy had a half of sack. Kevin Thomas recovered a fumble. Izell Reese started at free safety as he moved ahead of Pierson Prioleau on the depth chart. Reese had five tackles. Grade C-: Gave up 13 receptions for 137 yards to top two receivers.

Special Teams:

Brian Moorman averaged 43.1 yards on 7 punts and that was no easy feat with the windy conditions. He had a big 46 yard punt into the wind from his old end zone. The coverage team did allow a 30 yard return of that line drive punt. That was the only return they allowed all game. They also shutdown the kick return game of the Bengals. Rian Lindell was busy for the first time this year hitting all three of his field goal attempts including the clutch 29 yarder into the wind to force overtime. Antonio Brown averaged two yards on three punt returns. He shared kick return duties with Terrence McGee, neither had any good returns. Coy Wire was called for roughing the kicker that kept the Bengals touchdown drive going. Grade C+: Two bad plays, the penalty and the Warrick return almost cost the team the game.

Coaching:

The team did not give up on the run in the second half and it paid off. The defensive zone blitz scheme seemed to confuse the Bengals offense. Why did the scheme have the corners playing so far off the ball? Going for the block on the punt resulted in the bad penalty. Why did the players have to standup at halftime to turn it around, where were the coaches? Why risk the fumble in overtime and not go the safe route by kicking the field goal? Grade C: Team needs to get better fast or there will be many more losses.



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