Week 16: Bills Play Best Game Of The Year
A Complete Effort Takes Down Division Leader.
by Steve Saslow
Here are our position by position grades:
Kelly Holcomb got off to a fast start early with a 65 yard pass to Lee Evans. Unfortunately his first two drives stalled in the red zone and he threw an interception on his third drive nullifying momentum gained from a surprise on side kick. He rebounded nicely though finishing with the first 300 yard passing game by a Bills QB in nearly three seasons. Grade A: The best effort by a Bills QB in recent memory.
Willis McGahee struggled again but this time at least he got the ball. He had 23 carries for 66 yards. He caught three passes for zero yards and dropped one pass. Shaud Williams didn't touch the football. Daimon Shelton converted one third down with a reception and would have converted another one if he wasn't called for a false start penalty. Grade D: Poor performance from this unit.
Eric Moulds had a whopping 10 catches for 99 yards including a huge third down conversion on the winning field goal drive. Lee Evans rebounded from his poor performance last week with a nice 65 yard reception on the opening offensive play. He also caught a three yard touchdown pass and finished with five catches for 107 yards. On the negative side, he was called for a holding penalty wiping out a nine yard run by McGahee. Roscoe Parrish had two catches for 31 yards including a huge 28 yard catch and run to convert a 3rd and 18 pass. He faked out a defender to get the first down. Josh Reed had a season high 60 yards on three receptions including a big 22 yarder on the final field goal drive that converted a third down. The tight ends were once again not involved in the offense with no catches. Grade A: Solid effort thanks to some fine throws.
Bennie Anderson was called for another killer penalty in the red zone. His false start on first and goal at the 8 killed their second drive . As a whole the unit performed well at times but did self destruct and had some bad moments. They allowed three sacks and only opened holes for less than three yards per carry. Grade C-: Still a bad unit.
Aaron Schobel had a huge sack on a third and one play that forced the Bengals to kick a field goal. He added another sack in the final minute of the game. Chris Kelsay was in on two tackles. Sam Adams was out of position in the middle of the defense at times and was faked out when he could have made a stop behind the line of scrimmage. Tim Anderson had a quiet one assist game. Justin Bannan had three tackles. Grade C-: Gave up gaping holes in the middle of the defense that led to 88 yards rushing by Rudi Johnson.
London Fletcher was called for a facemask penalty but led the way with nine tackles. Jeff Posey had a quiet two tackles. Angelo Crowell was active with eight tackles including a big third down stop in the fourth quarter that forced Cincy into a field goal. Grade B: Didn't allow the big plays.
Terrence McGee did a solid job in coverage and had the game clinching interception return for a touchdown. Nate Clements battled Chad Johnson well early but was beat badly for a 41 yard touchdown in the 2nd quarter and many other times as Johnson led the way with 9 catches for 117 yards. Troy Vincent had a nice juggling interception and an equally as nice 42 yard return. Jabari Greer was beat for a 27 yard touchdown pass to Chris Henry. Lawyer Milloy was in on eight tackles including one for a loss. Grade C+: Made enough plays to slow down the Bengals at the right time.
The team's best unit shined today with some minor blemishes. Terrence McGee made the case that he should have been selected to the Pro Bowl by returning a team career record 4th kickoff for a touchdown, his 99 yarder was his first of the season. He followed that up with a nice 36 yard return, he was one broken tackle away from a touchdown. He finished with a 44 yard average on five returns. He also sold a beautiful reverse to Jim Leonhard on a 36 yard return into Bengals territory. Leonhard was called for a late hit on a fourth quarter kickoff return. Roscoe Parrish had two punt returns for 38 yards including a 23 yarder. A perfectly timed and executed surprise onside kick was recovered by the Bills. Rian Lindell was three for four on field goals, hitting three short ones but missing from 48 yards out. Brian Moorman had a quiet day. He only punted once, it went for 52 yards and gave the Bengals a drive start from inside the 20. The coverage unit gave up an average of just 17.9 yards on seven kickoff returns but two long ones in the fourth quarter gave the Bengals a short field. Grade A-: Kept the Bills in the game when it looked like they could collapse.
Mike Mularkey made some interesting decision. On a 4th and goal play on their first possession he kicked a field goal. Not something a team with nothing to lose should do. He then kicked an onside kick after the Bills second field goal. The brilliant call was followed up with one just as good as he challenged an illegal block penalty and was successful giving the Bills possession. The reverse on the 2nd half kickoff was a nice touch. The red zone blues continued early, why throw it on first and goal from the 2 on their first possession? For once, they made the halftime adjustments and ran the ball when they needed to keep the Bengals high powered offense off the field. Grade B: The team played hard for their beleaguered coach.
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