Week 2: Two Of Three Units Awful In Loss
Offensive woes were joined by special teams mistakes costing Bills.
by Steve Saslow
The Bills struggled mightily offensively for a second straight week, actually maybe it is 16 straight weeks dating back to the third game of last season. The special teams made one big play but had three called back because of penalties. The defense single handedly, as a unit, kept the team in the game before they tired down the stretch. Here are our position by position grades:
Drew Bledsoe went 13 of 24 for 198 yards but those numbers are deceiving as 70 yards came on two passes on the last ditch touchdown at the end of the game. He had no time to throw as he was sacked seven times and hit hard on many occasions. He threw one interception that was a high pass for Travis Henry that was deflected and picked off. His touchdown pass was lucky as it was deflected by a Raider defender. Grade D+: Didn't have much time to maneuver but throws were off target when he did have time.
Travis Henry again ran hard but only averaged 3.2 yards per carry as he finished with 67 yards on 21 carries. He did drop a couple of passes, failed to bring in the pass that was picked off and bobbled one ball. He did catch two passes. Willis McGahee barely played as he ran the ball twice, losing 10 yards on the first carry, and gaining seven on the second picking up a first down. Daimon Shelton caught two passes but failed to pick up a blitzer on one of Bledsoe's sacks. Grade C-: There were tough yards once again.
Eric Moulds was missing in action for much of the game. He did draw a 28 yard pass interference penalty on the field goal drive. He dropped a quick pass but ended up with two catches including a 36 yarder when he was wide open and the five yard touchdown reception where he showed great concentration pulling the ball in after the deflection. He did get called for an illegal motion penalty. Josh Reed dropped a couple of balls including a sure first down catch that Bledsoe got drilled on. The team had to settle for a field goal. He did manage two catches. Lee Evans made a big play, he got behind the defense and caught a 65 yard bomb, his only catch. Bobby Shaw was the only wide receiver to catch a pass into the third quarter. He caught two. Mark Campbell was a nice outlet receiver on his two catches and almost got into the end zone on a third down catch. Grade D: Were non existent most of the game, not getting open at all.
They didn't seem to have a clue in picking up the blitz. Seven sacks is all that needs to be said. In the running game they did start opening up some holes in the second half after they didn't run much in the first half. Grade F: Jim McNally hasn't done much good yet.
The unit was quiet most of the day and didn't get much pressure on Gannon. When they did he seemed to be able to get past it and gain some yardage on the ground. Aaron Schobel was in on five tackles and had a big third down stop. Sam Adams was very quiet but did draw a holding penalty. Pat Williams had a sack and five tackles. Ryan Denney got the start at left end against the rookie Gallery but got no pressure on the quarterback. He had two tackles along with Chris Kelsay. Grade C+: Didn't get much pressure on the QB.
This unit was very busy again. Takeo Spikes only made five tackles and couldn't catch up to Gannon on a third down scramble for 20 yards. London Fletcher had a team leading 10 tackles. Jeff Posey had five tackles. Grade A-: The unit was big in run stuffing.
This unit stopped most big plays except for one. Rashad Baker was beaten deep for a 43 yard touchdown on a third and 27 play. Troy Vincent and Nate Clements did a good job in coverage. Coy Wire bit on one play fake but also snuffed out a potential WR option pass. Izell Reese had six tackles. Grade B+: One bad play a week is the going rate for this unit.
Penalties killed this unit. Brian Moorman had a 62 yard punt downed at the six but it was called back because of an illegal touch by Kevin Thomas. On the re-kick Thomas and Moorman pulled off a fake as he was uncovered and Moorman hit him for the first down. When he eventually had to punt it again he punted 63 yards and it was downed at the 2. He is the offensive MVP. Rian Lindell hit his only field goal from 32 yards out, barely inside the left upright. It would have been interesting to see him try one from 45 but Bledsoe got sacked taking them out of range. Nate Clements had a 63 punt return called back by a holding penalty on Mario Haggan. Terrence McGee had an 88 yard kickoff return called back by a holding penalty on Angelo Crowell. Neither illegal block really impacted the play. Rashad Baker had a shot at the onside kick, it was kicked perfectly but Baker out jumped it. Grade F: Stupid mistakes stopped game turning plays.
The penalties continue to haunt the team and the coaching staff has to take a share of the blame. The Bills knew they were going to blitz a lot and they still couldn't stop it. The fake punt was a brilliant call. Foregoing the field goal at the one yard line in the fourth quarter was the right call since it was impossible to tell if they would get another chance at a touchdown. Grade D: Not a good start to the Mularkey era.
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