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Week 12: Defense Makes Big Plays Down The Stretch
Three 4th qtr picks allows Offense to put game away.
by Steve Saslow

Here are our position by position grades:

Quarterback:

Ryan Fitzpatrick had little time to throw all day but he made use of his legs as he ran for 50 yards in between six sacks. He had a 31 yard touchdown run when forced to roll out of the pocket. He had daylight down the right sideline. He also scrambled for two first downs on the Bills tying TD drive in the fourth quarter. He audibled out of a short pass to the bomb to Terrell Owens to put the game away. He threw for 246 yards and had one poor interception late in the first half. Grade A: Like the gun slinger attitude.

Running Backs:

Fred Jackson got the start over Marshawn Lynch and showed why he should have been the starter all along. He made a lot of plays in the second half enroute to 116 total yards and two touchdowns. Lynch had just six yards on three carries and one catch for nine yards. Corey McIntyre had a third down catch to convert for a first down. Was called for a hold that wiped out a 10 yard run by Owens. Grade B: Jackson should be the starter the rest of the way.

Receivers:

Terrell Owens had the big 51 yard touchdown catch as he finished leading the team with five catches for 96 yards. Lee Evans had two catches for 40 yards. Josh Reed was also quiet with one catch for 10 yards but couldn't pull in another third down pass. Shawn Nelson and Jonathan Stupar each had a catch for big gains. Grade B-: T.O. is the main target for Fitzpatrick.

Offensive Line:

The line struggled in giving up six sacks but did open up holes in the running game in the second half as Jackson averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Kendall Simmons got the start at right guard five days after being signed by the Bills it showed that he wasn't ready. He was called for a holding penalty on the Bills 2nd drive. He was beaten for 2nd quarter sack and called for a false start in the 4th quarter. Jonathan Scott played left tackle while Kirk Chambers manned the right tackle spot. Andy Levitre was back in his familiar left guard spot. Grade C-: Didn't give Fitz a lot of time to throw but made some plays.

Defensive Line:

Aaron Schobel got called for an offsides penalty on the first Miami drive. He had a tackle for a seven yard loss on a fullback screen pass. He had a big QB hit in the fourth quarter forcing a third down incompletion. Chris Kelsay had a hit on Chad Henne to force an interception late in the fourth quarter. Marcus Stroud knocked down a pass and had three tackles as he battled through his knee injury. Kyle Williams had a quiet eight tackles. Spencer Johnson had a sack late in the first half. Aaron Maybin had a tackle of Ted Ginn Jr. for a four yard loss off of the reverse. Corey Mace got an interception in the final minute after being activated on Saturday off of the practice squad. Grade C: Didn't get much pressure on the QB.

Linebackers:

Paul Posluszny had 10 tackles while Chris Draft had nine and the game's first interception as he read Ricky Williams pass out of the wildcat perfectly. Bryan Scott is playing well at linebacker as he had nine more tackles. Grade B+: The unit buckled down against the run in the second half.

Secondary:

Reggie Corner got the start for Terrence McGee and was beaten for Miami's first touchdown on a third and goal pass to Brian Hartline in the back of the end zone. Drayton Florence knocked away a deep pass to Ginn in the 4th quarter on a throw from their own end zone. He then dropped a sure interception two plays later. He would then get the big pick that setup T.O.'s score that put the game away. George Wilson had two tackles in the backfield as he had six in total. Jairus Byrd failed to tap Hartline down on a third down catch. It allowed him eight extra yards to the one on Miami's 2nd TD drive. Donte Whitner had a big game with 10 tackles and an interception to go along with two passes defensed. Grade A: Held Henne to 175 yards passing and had two of the four interceptions.

Special Teams:

Brian Moorman had one of many big plays in the fourth quarter when his punt went out of bounds at the 2. He averaged 51 yards on three punts with a 47 yard net. Rian Lindell missed a 44 yard field goal in the first quarter but more than made up for it with a career long 56 yard field goal. Roscoe Parrish was drilled when catching a punt but he did a good job holding on. He also had a 12 yard return. Fred Jackson averaged just 20.3 yards on three kickoff returns. He made a bad choice running out the opening kickoff and only got to the 13. The coverage units did a great job curtailing Ted Ginn Jr. holding him to an 18.8 yard average on four kickoff returns and one punt return for 12 yards. Grade A: Nice game for this unit and no penalties.

Coaching:

Perry Fewell showed an aggressive coaching style and it paid off. He went with his gut in letting Lindell kick the 56 yard field goal and was rewarded for it. Never went into a shell as they kept coming after getting the lead. Going with Jackson over Lynch was the right move as well. Alex Van Pelt opened up the playbook a bit for Fitzpatrick as they showed more aggression as they threw the ball well in the second half despite the lack of time to throw. Bobby April's unit played their best game in weeks. Grade A: Congratulations to Coach Fewell for his first victory.



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