Week 9: Balanced Effort Lead Bills To 4th Straight Win
Offense and defense plays great to earn the victory.
by Steve Saslow
Here are our position by position grades:
J.P. Losman got the start for Trent Edwards who was inactive with his wrist injury and he may not give the job back. Losman had the third biggest passing game of his career as he threw for 295 yards completing 24 of 34 passes. He did struggle in the red zone but he constantly moved the team downfield and kept the high powered Bengals offense off the field. He got off to a quick start with three beautiful passes to Lee Evans that gave the Bills their first opening drive touchdown of the season. He got a bit too wild however on an interception late in the 1st quarter when he underthrew Evans badly, a good throw could have gone for a touchdown but he admitted after the game he got a bit over zealous. He ran the offense effectively in the two minute drill at the end of the half to get them in the range to score. He continued to move the ball well in the second half even though the focus moved to the ground game. Completed a big 3rd and 7 pass to Evans that kept the clock moving as the team was nursing a five point lead. Grade A: Enough to keep the job.
Marshawn Lynch struggled getting yards early but had a couple of good second efforts that got him back to the line of scrimmage when getting hit in the backfield. It was a hit in the backfield that he bounced off of to get his 56 yard touchdown run, what a way to go over 100 yards, he finished with 153 yards on the ground. His touchdown pass was a beautifully thrown spiral. Also had a big 10 yard run on the opening scoring drive. Anthony Thomas caught one pass for 11 yards. Dwayne Wright had one carry. Grade A: Lynch has arrived.
Lee Evans had some fancy footwork on two of his opening drive catches. The TD catch was originally ruled an incompletion before it was overruled by replay. He never looked back as he finished with nine catches for 165 yards and made nice catch after nice catch. Roscoe Parrish caught only one screen pass before leaving with an injury. Josh Reed was called for a questionable holding penalty negating a nice run by Lynch but made some big plays as well finishing with six catches for 55 yards. Robert Royal had a 27 yard catch in the first half and was on the receiving end of Lynch's touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Derek Schouman had a quality game before leaving late with an injury. His lead blocking was good and had two catches for 10 yards. Michael Gaines was called for a costly holding penalty late in the third quarter after the Bengals had just taken the lead. He had three catches for 22 yards. Grade A: Made the plays when they were needed.
The line did an excellent job in pass protection in the first half but struggled in run blocking, that has been the case all year. In the second half they did a better job opening up holes and continued their excellent pass protection as Losman wasn't sacked at all. Brad Butler was called for an illegal motion penalty but had a big block converting a third and short run by Lynch. Jason Peters had a classic battle with Justin Smith and held his own. Grade A: Best game of the year from this unit.
Aaron Schobel was only in on three tackles but he was much more active than that. Chris Kelsay only had one tackle but it did bring down Rudi Johnson for a loss. Jon McCargo had a tackle. Larry Tripplett tipped a third pass that was almost intercepted forcing a punt. Kyle Williams had two tackles, one of them was a nice tackle from behind the play. Anthony Hargrove played both end and tackle and had three tackles. Ryan Denney made his season debut but played sparingly. Grade B+: Little pressure on the QB but was a big part in holding the Bengals to 28 passing yards.
John DiGiorgio wasn't very active as he had only three tackles before leaving with a head injury. Coy Wire replaced him in the middle late in the game and pressured Palmer on one play. Keith Ellison knocked a pass away from Chad Johnson as he was bringing it in. Angelo Crowell was all over the field, he had a nice tackle for loss in the first half, almost had an interception, and also pressured Palmer on a blitz. He finished with a game high 14 tackles. Grade A: Excellent effort in shutting down the run and taking away the middle of the field through the air.
Terrence McGee had a great series to start the 2nd half. He stopped Chad Johnson for one yard on a reverse and then knocked the ball away from him to force a punt. He was stellar in coverage all day long. Late in the game he couldn't bring in a pick but the knock down forced a big punt. Jabari Greer had a nice day as well as he was in on five tackles and forced a fumble. He was beaten for the Bengals first touchdown. George Wilson had six tackles. Donte Whitner had the hard hit that knocked Chad Johnson out of the game. He had four tackles. Kiwaukee Thomas picked off a pass at the end of the game. Grade B: Nice job against a very potent receiving duo.
Brian Moorman had his second sub par game in a row. He only had to punt twice as he had a light workload. He had a 29 yard punt into the wind and a 27 yarder that was fair caught inside the 10. Rian Lindell was perfect as usual going 4 for 4 hitting kicks from 23, 21, 29, and 38 yards out. He also now holds the NFL record for most consecutive extra points made to start a career. Terrence McGee averaged 27.3 yards on three returns including a pretty 38 yarder late in the game. Roscoe Parrish lost his shoe on one return and had two returns for 18 yards before getting injured. Jim Leonhard returned the punts in the 2nd half and matched Parrish's numbers. Grade C: Lindell keeps this from being an F.
Dick Jauron has a team of high character that battled together and pulled out a victory with a very strong fourth quarter. He made the right call challenging the TD to Evans and winning it. Their second time in the red zone they didn't even take one shot at the end zone, why didn't they learn from the Evans score? Jauron made the right call kicking the FG with :06 left in the first half, couldn't risk another play there. I do think they could have gone for it in the 3rd quarter on 4th and 1 from the 11 but you can't blame them too much for going for the lead there. The gadget play for the TD from Lynch to Royal was setup perfectly by a number of runs by Lynch. It was the right call to get them out of the red zone woes. Grade A: Nice job in leading the team to 4 straight wins.
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