Game 14: All Three Units Lead Team To Win
All Three touchdowns scored by different units.
by Steve Saslow
The offense didn't have an explosion but they did enough to win. The defense struggled against the run but made big plays when they had to. Special teams made one big play, a few smaller ones, and flirted with disaster on a few other plays. Here are our position by position grades:
Drew Bledsoe didn't have a big game but he managed it well once again. He did throw the ball the best in the fourth quarter while the team was running out the clock in the air with McGahee hurt. Bledsoe finished 15 of 30 for 183 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. His QB rating was a respectable 80.3. He also ran two designed sneaks and gained 8 and 5 yards. Grade B: Did what he had to do to manage the team to victory.
Willis McGahee was struggling early before getting hurt in the second quarter. He had 16 yards on six carries when he was hurt late in the first half. He had 14 of them on one play. He returned in the third quarter before giving way to Shaud Williams in the final quarter. McGahee finished with 25 yards on 11 carries and Williams had 30 yards on 14 carries. He was stopped twice on third and short plays inside the 10. Daimon Shelton was used a bit less with the scheme the team was using in this game. Joe Burns saw more time at fullback than Shelton in this game. Grade F: They averaged just 1.2 yards per carry.
Lee Evans fumbled the ball away when trying to reach for a first down. He redeemed himself with a 60 yard catch on a flea flicker then got the 5 yard touchdown three plays later. He finished with 101 yards on five receptions. Eric Moulds caught five passes for just 47 yards as he was used in the slot a lot in this game. Josh Reed caught two passes for 24 yards and broke tackles to get a first down on his second catch. Ryan Neufeld dropped a pass. Grade C: Evans was the long big target for Bledsoe.
Chris Villarial was beaten for two sacks. The unit had trouble opening up any holes for the running game. They did a decent job in pass protection as Bledsoe had a lot of time to throw, especially on the flea flicker. Grade C+: Will need to open up holes for the running backs the next two weeks.
Aaron Schobel had one big tackle for a loss and forced a fumble on his only sack. He finished with five tackles. Chris Kelsay was very active including an interception and a tackle for a loss, and six tackles. Sam Adams had a sack but struggled clogging up the middle. Adams and Pat Williams allowed too many big chunks of yardage for Rudi Johnson. Williams did pressure Kitna on Spikes' interception return for a score. Ryan Denney saw more playing time this week and was active including deflecting a pass. Grade C+: Gave up 149 yards on the ground but had big stops and pressures.
London Fletcher had a sack, fumble recovery, and a team high 9 tackles. Takeo Spikes returned an interception for a touchdown in his homecoming and recovered a fumble. Jeff Posey was active early but only had three assists. Grade A+: The best unit on the field.
Terrence McGee was burned early but also made one nice pass breakup and finished with seven tackles. Troy Vincent was quiet with three tackles and a pass defensed. Nate Clements shutdown Chad Johnson as he only caught two passes for 10 yards. Clements had four tackles and forced a fumble, he was called for a pass interference penalty. Lawyer Milloy was in on seven tackles. Grade A: Held the great Cincinnati receiving corps in check.
Jason Peters bulled through the middle and blocked a punt then recovered it for a touchdown. First one since 1996 for the Bills. Brian Moorman averaged 45 yards on five punts including a 60 yarder. Jonathan Smith foolishly picked up a rolling punt and was immediately drilled. At least he held onto the ball. Terrence McGee fumbled a kickoff but the Bills recovered. Shaud Williams also fumbled a punt that the Bills recovered. Rian Lindell hit all four of his field goal attempts. He would have had a fifth after hitting a 49 yarder but the Bills had called timeout just before the kick. They faked the field goal after the break and Moorman lost 11 yards. Nate Clements did not return punts early to rest his injured shoulder but did have two short returns in the second half. The Bills had four punt return yards on four returns. McGee averaged 30 yards on two kickoff returns. He gained 41 on one return. London Fletcher returned one punt 21 yards but should have let it go out of bounds. Josh Stamer was called for an illegal block in the back penalty. Grade B+: Some hairy returns brings grade down a bit.
Mike Mularkey made a curious call running with Williams on third and 2 from the 6 after McGahee's injury. He ran it with him in the same situation later in the game and it failed again. Why run Williams up the middle when he's a scat back? Flea Flicker was perfect call against two rookie safeties. Evans and Moulds were wide open. Stupid replay challenge for 12 men on the field when they clearly had 11. For the second time this year a field goal was taken away from Lindell by a Bills timeout. The 49 yarder came off the board and then they faked a field goal. Why get fancy with the game in the bag? Despite some curious things, Mularkey has the team focused and on a major roll. Grade B: Mularkey deserves a lot of the credit for the incredible turnaround.
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