Game 3: Secondary Falters In Loss To Pats
Big plays by the Pats overcome mistake filled Bills.
by Steve Saslow
The Bills gave it all they had against the Patriots but made too many mistakes and penalties to win the game. Lost in the loss was the absolutely horrid play of the Bills secondary as they struggled in coverage while the Patriots picked up each and every Bills blitz. There play is reflected in our position by position grades:
Drew Bledsoe had a decent game but two turnovers cost him dearly. He went over 200 yards for the first time in seven games but needed garbage time to do it. He finished with 247 yards completing 18 of 30 passes. He threw a bad interception and fumbled after a sack that was returned for clinching touchdown. He threw the deep sideline ball beautifully as he hit Lee Evans for a 55 yard gain and a 41 yard scoring pass to Eric Moulds. His throws over the middle were overthrown on many occasions. He was able to get the ball away while being blitz for most of the game but it all collapsed in the final three minutes. Grade C+: Did some nice things reminiscent of the days of old but also made mistakes reminiscent of the last year and a half.
Travis Henry had a solid game gaining 98 yards on 24 carries. As it seems to go with this team this year he fell down on his biggest carry, a 3rd and 1 in the final three minutes. He had a huge hole for a first down before falling. The next play resulted in a Patriots touchdown. Willis McGahee once again barely was used. I saw him on two plays with Henry in the backfield. He did not touch the ball once. Daimon Shelton ran for a first down on a third and one play but of course it was called back by a penalty. Grade B+: Henry was solid in his best running effort of the season.
Eric Moulds had a big game statistically finishing with 126 yards on 10 catches. Many of those plays were made on the final garbage time series. Moulds did manage to catch a 41 yard touchdown pass. He has scored all three offensive touchdowns for the Bills this year. He did drop one pass that would have been a sure first down and kept the Bills driving. Lee Evans had a coming out party with his 55 yard reception on the first offensive play. He caught four balls in all including some big short receptions for 93 yards. Josh Reed dropped another pass as he may have fallen more down the depth chart as Sam Aiken saw some action late in the game and caught two passes. Mark Campbell didn't have a pass thrown to him but Ryan Neufeld had his first catch of the year. Grade B-: This group was all Moulds and Evans.
They were decimated by injuries as Jonas Jennings and Trey Teague left the game with injuries. They did a decent job most of the day though. That is until the last three minutes. They opened up nice holes for Travis Henry. Bledsoe was sacked 7 times for the second straight game but four of them came in the final three minutes. Grade C: Played with courage but fell apart in the final minutes.
The unit seemed to lose the battle of the line of scrimmage as Corey Dillon ran for 79 yards and a robust 4.2 yard per carry. The line seemed to tire late in the game. Aaron Schobel was very quiet finishing with one tackle and didn't even sniff Tom Brady. Sam Adams was also very quiet, he only had one assist. Pat Williams had a big tackle behind the line of scrimmage but that was his only tackle. Ryan Denney started at left end and didn't even have a tackle. Chris Kelsay recovered a fumble and was in on two tackles. Grade F: Two tackles and one assist from four starters and no sacks.
Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher led the team with nine tackles. Fletcher was called for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties but one was a horrendous call. He also returned in apparent fumble close to a score but fumbled it out of bounds. It was overturned by replay and was incomplete. He blitzed Brady a lot and harassed him but got no sacks. Jeff Posey was quiet with three tackles. Grade C-: Not the best day for the team's best unit.
Tom Brady picked them apart for 298 yards and several big plays. Terrence McGee played for the injured Troy Vincent and was exploited badly getting burned for three big plays. Nate Clements was the only player that had tight coverage throughout the game and he recovered an apparent fumble that was ruled down even though it was clearly out before Dillon was down. Coy Wire was beat deep again. He is really struggling. Izell Reese had five tackles. Grade F: Gave up way too many third down conversions and other big plays.
Brian Moorman was the star once again, he had a 63 yard punt, his third straight game with a 60+ yard punt. He also fumbled a snap but ran it 34 yards for a first down, same type of play he made last year. Terrence McGee returned a kick 98 yards for a score averaging 44 yards on four returns. Kevin Thomas downed a punt at the 2 yard line. Daimon Shelton returned a kick 15 yards. Rian Lindell hit his only field goal from 33 yards out. Nate Clements had two returns for 22 yards. Rashad Baker had a bonehead play when he jumped offsides on a field goal attempt. The play cost the team four points when the Patriots took the points off the board and scored a touchdown. Grade B: Two big plays kept them in the game, but another badly timed penalty.
Mike Mularkey had the team fired up to play and they fought to the end but he needs to take a huge hit for the 11 penalties for 94 yards. He said that they couldn't afford mistakes, he harped on it, but still mistakes were made. The decision to go for it on 4th and 3 with three minutes to play was the right call unfortunately as usual when push came to shove, the Bills caved. Why did Jerry Gray stick with the constant blitzing when it was getting picked apart by Tom Brady? Grade F: Back to the drawing board on another losing season.
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