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Week 6: Early Defensive Struggles Cost Team
Offense engineers comeback but not enough to get the win.
by Steve Saslow

Here are our position by position grades:

Quarterback:

Thad Lewis had a fantastic opening drive that including a beautiful 47 yard sideline bomb to Graham. Had good command of the offense but was hesitant on the third down play where he fumbled the ball away. He showed great poise in leading two fourth quarter touchdown drives that both ended with touchdown passes down the field.
Grade A: Can hold his head up high about his performance.

Running Backs:

C.J. Spiller was hobbled throughout as that ankle injury isn't much better but he did manage to average 5.5 yards per carry but only ran it 10 times.
Fred Jackson got the start in the backfield but only had 35 yards on his 10 carries. He was stopped three times in a row from inside the 2.
Tashard Choice added 24 yards on 4 carries and had a nice 13 yard run in the red zone.
Frank Summers saw some time as a lead blocker in this game.
Grade C: Couldn't do enough but did average over four yards a carry.

Receivers:

Robert Woods was pretty quiet with just two catches for nine yards.
T.J. Graham had a nice 47 yard downfield catch on the first drive. He dropped a pass that would have been a sure first down on the Bills second drive. Finished with four catches for a team high 74 yards.
Marquise Goodwin got open deep twice, once he was clearly interfered with, the second one went for a 40 yard touchdown to tie the game. He also had an 11 yard reception.
Scott Chandler was very quiet before catching his 23 yard reception. He then had a big 25 yard catch before the tying score.
Grade B: Very young unit made enough big plays to get them back in the game.

Offensive Line:

Colin Brown was rotated in and out as he has struggled all year in every game but the Ravens game.
Doug Legursky got the start at left guard and was in a rotation with Brown.
Cordy Glenn was called for a false start penalty.
Grade D: Gave up five sacks and got little push in the running game.

Defensive Line:

Mario Williams was invisible until he combined with Kyle Williams for a sack.
Marcell Dareus had a big sack to help keep the Bengals from getting into field goal range.
Kyle Williams teamed with Hughes for a tackle for loss. Was called for a bad taunting penalty in the third quarter that setup another Bengals touchdown. On the next series he was called for a face mask penalty on his combined sack of Dalton.
Jerry Hughes had a nice hit behind the line and made a tackle with Kyle Williams and a nice tackle for no gain. Was in on nine tackles.
Alan Branch made a tackle for loss in the fourth quarter and had six tackles total.
Corbin Bryant also made a tackle for loss in the fourth quarter.
Grade C+: Didn't get enough pressure and allowed the pile to be pushed too much in the running game.

Linebackers:

Manny Lawson left the game with a hamstring injury.
Kiko Alonso was faked out by Dalton on a third down scramble but was in on 22 tackles.
Nigel Bradham broke up a third down pass to force a punt in the fourth quarter.
Arthur Moats had five tackles.
Grade D: Struggled with the rest of the defense.

Secondary:

Jairus Byrd made his season debut, he did not start but came in on the first set of downs. Had a nice pass breakup in the first quarter.
Stephon Gilmore made his season debut as well but also did not start and was limited with a club on his injured hand with no fingers exposed. Made a tackle on his first play but missed a tackle on a 54 yard screen pass to Lewis. Was beaten by Jones for a big gainer in the third quarter.
Leodis McKelvin forced the Bengals to settle for a FG on their opening possession by breaking up a third down pass. Was beaten by Green for the Bengals first touchdown and by Jones for the third touchdown but Dalton had all day to throw on the play. Tate caught a 9 yard catch off of him. He did breakup a pass to Green in the end zone.
Nickell Robey was called for a crushing holding penalty on a third down pass play in the fourth quarter.
Aaron Williams started at cornerback once again this week and broke up a pass on the first series.
Da'Norris Searcy had a third down sack that stopped a Bengals drive and had 16 tackles in all.
Jim Leonhard had a big interception and return late in the first half. It was the first time the Bills stopped the Bengals in the game.
Grade C: Made some plays but gave up many more.

Special Teams:

Brian Moorman made his return to the Bills and his first punt went out of bounds inside the one yard line and the returner was tackled at the five on his second punt. He averaged 48.8 yards on five punts with a 42 yard net.
Dan Carpenter hit a 51 yard field goal. It was his 12th straight field goal, three of them coming from more than 50 yards out.
Leodis McKelvin had two punt returns for 10 yards.
Marquise Goodwin returned his first kick return opportunity to the 23 yard line. It was the first return all year that went past the 20. He had four returns in all for a 23.5 yard average.
Coverage Units allowed a bad 29 yard punt return in overtime that cost them the game. Gave up 25.8 yard average on four kick returns.
Grade B: Coverage unit hurt them in the end.

Coaching:

Doug Marrone always has his team playing until the final whistle. Past Bills teams lose this game by three touchdowns. He brought them back to tie it up and force overtime. There is some mental toughness on this team and he gets credit for it.
Nathaniel Hackett had a solid game plan in there and the offense moved it well without Stevie Johnson, EJ Manuel, and a hobbled C.J. Spiller.
Mike Pettine didn't have his defense ready when they were the unit that was supposed to keep them in this game. It was embarrassing watching the Bengals dominate the line of scrimmage early. They did play better down the stretch but it was too little too late.
Grade B-: Still have a long way to go.



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