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Game 16: Bills Lose In Total Team Fashion
All three phases struggled in loss that ends the season.
by Steve Saslow

The Bills needed a win against a bunch of backups for a shot at the playoffs and fell short. You can thank all three units for that. The offense struggled mightily all day while the defense made a fourth string running back look like an all pro. Special teams were called for a bunch of penalties that would cost them field position. Here are our position by position grades:

Quarterback:

Drew Bledsoe struggled mightily. He threw one interception but could have thrown three more. He had a fumble returned for a touchdown and only threw for 9 yards before the final possession of the first half. He finished 16 of 30 for 189 yards but those stats are padded by a bomb to Lee Evans on the final drive of the game. Grade F: With the season on the line, Bledsoe crumbled.

Running Backs:

Willis McGahee ran well early gaining 41 of the 50 yards on the Bills first touchdown drive. That makes it amazing that they didn't go back to him more. He finished with 79 yards on just 18 carries and two touchdowns. A 4.4 yard average. Shaud Williams had a single carry for two yards while Daimon Shelton did a decent job blocking. Grade B: Under utilized.

Receivers:

Eric Moulds had four catches for 37 yards but also had a drop. Lee Evans was not heard from until the fourth quarter when he caught a bomb for 56 yards. He finished with two catches for 63 yards. Sam Aiken was a busy man catching four passes for 52 yards but dropped a couple also. Josh Reed dropped a pass and didn't catch any. Ryan Neufeld had three catches for 15 yards and a drop. Rod Trafford finished with one catch for 10 yards but came up short of a first down. Grade D: Didn't help out, dropped too many passes.

Offensive Line:

Chris Villarial left with an injury and was replaced by Mike Pucillo They did hold off the blitzes by the Steelers for the most part and gave Bledsoe time to throw despite three sacks. They also opened up holes for a running game that averaged 4.6 yards a carry. Grade B: Not the reason for the loss.

Defensive Line:

Pat Williams had his biggest game this year in what could be his last game as a Bill. He finished with a team high 12 tackles and a sack. Aaron Schobel recovered a fumble, defensed a pass, and was in on eight tackles. Chris Kelsay was a non factor but Ryan Denney had a sack on the first possession, deflected a pass, and had two tackles. Sam Adams had four tackles. Grade C: Did the job at times but gave up big holes through the middle most of the second half.

Linebackers:

London Fletcher was in on 10 tackles. Jeff Posey had 8. Takeo Spikes only had six but picked off a pass. Grade D: Needed a much better effort in a big game out of this unit.

Secondary:

Nate Clements had a huge game with seven tackles, an interception, a forced fumble, and a pass deflection that was picked off. Terrence McGee was toasted on a couple of plays early in the game. He finished with four tackles. Troy Vincent had a quiet 9 tackles at free safety. Lawyer Milloy was in on five tackles. Grade C: Gave up big plays at the worst time.

Special Teams:

Bobby April's unit did not have a good finish to a great season. They were called for numerous penalties that cost them field position. Rian Lindell missed a 28 yard field goal that was the turning point of the game and scarred a good season for him. He did hit a 37 yarder. Brian Moorman had a good game averaging 44.7 yards on six punts in a windy game. Terrence McGee averaged 22.5 yards on six returns. Nate Clements fumbled a punt return that gave the Steelers a field goal. Coverage teams did a nice job. Grade D. Worst game of the year from this unit.

Coaching:

Mike Mularkey lost his team for the first time this year. They lost their focus and didn't concentrate on the task at hand. Not running the ball more was unbelievable considering the running game was working and the passing game was struggling. Grade F: Didn't show up for biggest game of year against backups.



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