Week 13: Offense Does Just Enough For Win
Lindell's five field goals helps overcome struggles.
by Steve Saslow
Here are our position by position grades:
Trent Edwards struggled for the most part as he couldn't lead the Bills to any touchdowns. He was inaccurate on his first possession and had two passes batted down on his second possession. He continued to struggle but got the ball moving enough in the 2nd half for five scoring drives, all field goals and two setup by turnovers. He finished with 257 yards passing and an 82.8 rating on 22 of 36. Grade B-: Final minute drive is something to build on.
Fred Jackson got the start with the top two running backs hurt and he was fantastic. He finished with 82 yards rushing and could have easily had a 100 yard day if they ran it more like they should have. He only had 16 carries averaging 5.1 yards a carry. He also had 69 yards receiving including a big 54 yard catch and run to setup the Bills fourth field goal. Dwayne Wright had 15 yards on his first carry and lost a yard on his only other carry. Grade A-: Averaged five yards on 20 carries.
Lee Evans was a missing man in the first half. He dropped a pass on the Bills opening possession of the 2nd half but came back with great juggling catch to convert the third down on the next play. He couldn't come down with a pass in the end zone. Finished with just four catches for 51 yards. Roscoe Parrish had four short receptions for 36 yards. Josh Reed couldn't come up with a critical third down pass by Edwards late in the game and the Bills were forced to punt. He more than made up for it with his 30 yard reception on the winning field goal drive. He finished with five catches for 67 yards. Robert Royal fumbled the ball away when the Bills were driving in the 2nd quarter and was called for a holding penalty in the third quarter. He did catch four passes for 21 yards. Michael Gaines had one catch for 13 yards. Grade C-: Didn't do enough to get open down the field.
Derrick Dockery was fired up to play his former team and to play for his fallen ex-teammate. He opened up some nice holes in the running game and was called for one false start but it was really Langston Walker who made the infraction. Walker also had a costly holding penalty in the fourth quarter in the red zone. Melvin Fowler had a fumble recovery on a bobbled snap. Despite the penalties this unit did a great job in pass protection against numerous blitzes as Edwards wasn't sacked and barely touched. The five yards a carry on the ground was a nice sight to see as well. Grade A: Best game of the year for this unit.
Now we know why Copeland Bryan never plays. He got into this game and was called for a questionable late hit penalty in the first quarter. Aaron Schobel had a big sack after great coverage in the end zone forcing a field goal on Washington's second drive. He was active in the run game gaining five tackles. Ryan Denney was really active with seven tackles making the loss of Chris Kelsay less felt. Jason Jefferson saw some time on the line early. Jon McCargo had one tackle. Larry Tripplett had a huge game. First he had a nice stop for a loss on Portis. In the second half he forced Campbell to fumble and then made a diving interception on a pass knocked away by McGee. He was called for a questionable roughing the passer on what should have been the last play. Kyle Williams continues his solid second season with five tackles. Grade A: Nice job against the run and getting pressure on the quarterback.
John DiGiorgio had nice pressure forcing Edwards to run out of bounds in the red zone in the first quarter. He finished with a game high 10 tackles. Keith Ellison was more active than he had been all year. He recovered a would be fumble that was ruled incomplete. He couldn't come up with an interception that would probably have went for a touchdown, he finished with five tackles. Angelo Crowell had the sack for a safety on a blitz. He then recovered a Campbell fumble in the third quarter. Finished with nine tackles. Josh Stamer had nice coverage on Cooley in the end zone on that 2nd drive in the goal lined defensive package. Mario Haggan got into the act with a sack of his own. Grade B: Also did a solid job in run support but gave up some plays in the passing game.
Terrence McGee got beat for back to back third down conversions by Moss on the Redskins opening drive. He had a nice pass breakup that was picked off by Tripplett. He was in on seven tackles. George Wilson had two tackles and did a nice job in one on one coverage. Donte Whitner was beaten by Moss for a critical third down conversion in the third quarter but did a better job in pass coverage in the second half and finished with six tackles. Jabari Greer did a nice job in coverage for most of the game but was called for a pass interference penalty, the first one for the Bills since October of last year. Bryan Scott was used more in this game as a blitzer and got two pressures forcing Edwards to run on the opening drive of the game. He had two other pressures in the game. Jim Leonhard was beat by Cooley for a third down conversion on the Redskins 2nd drive and Scott was beaten for a long gainer by Cooley on the next play. Leonard was also beaten by Cooley in the third quarter for a third down conversion that led to a Redskins touchdown. He had a nice deflection on a pass late in the fourth quarter that gave the Bills a chance at the comeback. Grade C+: Much better job in the second half.
Brian Moorman shanked a punt to go along with two punts inside the 10. He had a 35 yard net and gross average. Rian Lindell hit all five field goals from 38,43,24,33, and 36 yards out for the game winner. He is Mr. Automatic with 17 straight field goals. Terrence McGee didn't do much against the directional kicking of the Redskins, he averaged only 12.7 yards on three returns. Roscoe Parrish averaged 18.5 yards on three punt returns and returned the free kick 15 yards. Dwayne Wright dropped a short kickoff in the first quarter but fell on it. Duke Preston was called for holding on a kickoff return and Dustin Fox was called for one on the free kick after the safety. The coverage units allowed a 26.8 yard average on Cartwright's kickoff returns. Grade B: Lindell keeps this grade up.
The coaches deserve credit for having them ready to play but there were many questions. Steve Fairchild had questionable play calling on the opening offensive possession after a 22 yard run by Jackson (the Redskins had 10 men on the field as a tribute to Sean Taylor) they threw it three straight times. Why not run more in the first half when they were averaging eight yards a carry? Third down defense is just pathetic but Perry Fewell switched to more man to man in the 2nd half with much success, he may have stayed with the zone a bit too long but nice adjustments. Dick Jauron wanted to challenge a possible fumble on the first series of the game but decided against it after talking to the referee. The call to punt it on 4th and 3 at the Redskins 40 was one in which I agreed with. If they went for it and were stopped it would be a huge momentum gainer for an already emotionally charged team and crowd. Grade B: A big road win under tough circumstances.
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