Week 7: Defense, Special Teams Shine
The offense struggled but the other units led the team to victory.
by Steve Saslow
Here are our position by position grades:
Ryan Fitzpatrick played for the injured Trent Edwards and he was inaccurate for most of the day. He did under throw a wide open Terrell Owens on a 2nd quarter bomb. He threw it behind an open Jonathan Stupar late in the first half. He totally overthrew Evans twice on 2nd half third down plays as the two weren't on the same page at all. He put it together in the fourth quarter with Evans. His two yard touchdown pass was a bullet and the 50 yard bomb was really nice to setup a field goal. He finished with completing 11 of 22 passes for 123 yards. Grade C+: It wasn't pretty but he got it done for a second straight week.
Marshawn Lynch was the feature back this week as he carried 17 times for just 40 yards but did get the eight yard touchdown. Fred Jackson had only one carry in the first half and five overall for just two yards. Grade D: Nothing doing on the ground against one of the weaker run defenses.
Terrell Owens dropped two passes although they were both a little high he should have had them. Lee Evans came on in the second half and led the tam with five catches for 75 yards including a nice catch in traffic for a score. Josh Reed dropped a screen pass in the 2nd quarter but made a nice catch and second effort to convert a third down. Derek Fine was non existent. Jonathan Stupar was open twice one play was thrown behind him and he couldn't pull it in. The second time he wasn't even thrown to. Grade C+: They need some big plays from Owens.
The makeshift offensive line gave up several pressures on Fitzpatrick but only two sacks but they could get nothing going on the run. The right side of the line was blown up on the safety. Demetrius Bell had a great block springing Lynch for the Bills first rushing TD of season. He also had a false start penalty that backed them up to the 2 yard line and the Panthers got a safety on the next play. Adam Levitre got called for a false start penalty. Grade D: This unit didn't help out the offense.
Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay both had sacks in the fourth quarter. Kelsay's forced a punt. Marcus Stroud had a quiet game. Kyle Williams missed all but one play. He was replaced by Spencer Johnson who got good pressure forcing a third down incompletion on the Panthers first series but was called for a late hit penalty. Grade B-: Solid enough game to get the win.
Paul Posluszny had a nice tackle to stop Williams short of a first down out of the wildcat formation. He finished with a game high 11 tackles as he was all over the field. Chris Draft got the start for the Bills instead of Ashlee Palmer. He teamed with Poz for a 4th and 1 stop of Williams and had three tackles. Keith Ellison had seven tackles. Grade B+: Did a much better job against the run this week.
Jairus Byrd had two more interceptions giving him five in three games. Both picks setup both Bills touchdowns. He returned the first one to the six and second one was returned to the 27. He then had a touchdown saving touchdown on a bomb to Steve Smith. Terrence McGee missed on three tackles in the first half than was beaten for a 52 yard gain by a tight end running down the sidelines. Drayton Florence had a nice pass breakup forcing a first quarter punt and a nice open field tackle to force a punt in the third. George Wilson made a nice tackle in the backfield for a two yard loss in the first quarter and had the final nail in the coffin with an interception to go along with 10 tackles. Reggie Corner broke up a 2nd quarter pass to force a punt in Bills territory. Grade B-: Somehow Jake Delhomme threw for 325 yards but there weren't too many big throws.
The coverage units really shined on this day including a nice tackle for loss by Justin Jenkins on a punt return. Carolina averaged just two yards on six punt returns and 11.3 yards on four kickoff returns. Brian Moorman helped with four punts inside the 20 and a 43.5 yard net. Rian Lindell was 2 for 2 on field goal attempts. Fred Jackson had three punt returns for a 5.7 yard average and returned one kickoff for 33 yards. Terrence McGee returned his first kick of the season in the fourth quarter and got 30 yards. Derek Fine made the big play recovering a muffed punt in the fourth quarter. Grade A+: Best day of the season for this unit by far.
Dick Jauron has his group playing hard. They also were smarter and more disciplined as they only had three penalties. Alex Van Pelt had a curious game plan of putting the ball in the air a lot early despite the Panthers being very good against the Pass and weak against the run. They threw three times in a row on the first possession of the third quarter after Lynch had just put it past midfield with an eight yard run. They also needed to build up some time of possession and passing and not executing was putting Perry Fewell's defense in a rough spot. The gutsy call to throw it deep while protecting a lead showed a little aggressiveness. Bobby April had his unit playing well as they were flying around in coverage units. Grade B+: That's two straight wins.
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