For two consecutive weeks, Ryan Fitzpatrick was indeed Fitzmagic in helping out or even bailing out the Buffalo Bills defense. On Sunday in Cincinnati, the quarterback was simply ordinary, the defense found itself gassed and even the most extraordinary unit may very well have been zebra-striped.
— When Andy Dalton was available in the NFL Draft, my argument against taking him was that the Bills already had veteran Andy Dalton. Well, the first half of Sunday’s game saw Dalton mimicking Fitz’s worst days while the second found Dalton finding some magic of his own. Calm and cool in the 4th quarter, Dalton did just enough to put the Bengals back into the win column while Fitz fell flat with the help of one of the National Football League’s silly and vague rules.
— “Complete a football move?” Stop it. Shut up. Dumb sauce. The ruling against Stevie Johnson’s third-down snare of a Fitz pass was horrendous and probably inaccurate even in the dim light of the rule. Johnson made a catch, went to the turf and while moving in a slow-motion army crawl had the ball touching the ground. I don’t debate that, but if we went up to the park with our friends and you tried to eliminate an opposition catch by making that same ruling, we’d make a beer commercial about its silliness. Poor call by the NFL. In fact, it’s just as poor as…
— … the Tuck Rule. Really? This ridiculous rule is going to exist for the rest of our lives because the NFL has to live up to its officials’ imaginings in the AFC title game between the Raiders and Patriots. Dalton fumbled the ball. The Bills recovered. The spot of the ball probably would’ve eliminated the touchdown, but it did give Cincinnati the ball back. I love the Bills, but this rule does not exist in college football for a reason.
— Let’s be clear, however, the Bills lost the game. Buffalo got zero pass rush in the fourth quarter… nil, nada, zilch. This could be due to the fact that there were plays where Shawne Merriman had his shirt under more pressure than a dry cleaning service. The line and backers got absolutely no push on the Bengals final two drives and when they did they were out-raced by Andy Dalton. Read that last part of the sentence again. That’s why the Bills are 3-1.
— Fitz’s inaccuracy was an issue, but the Bills had a lot of chances to bail him out. If the ball hits your hands on the sidelines, you should come up with the ball every other time or close to that percentage. Naaman Roosevelt had a key drop early and while most of the missed receptions would have been near-sensational, this may have been one instance where we see the difference between elite wide-outs and the decent ones the Bills have in their stables.
— The Bengals defensive line, to its credit, seemed much faster and more explosive than any the Bills have faced so far in 2011.
— David Nelson was invisible for a lot of the contest, but I want to type high-five Anthony Hawkins and Jerome Simpson for further proof that you need to be a big school star and/or high pick to succeed as a wide-out in the new spread NFL. Hawkins (Toledo, undrafted) and Simpson (2nd round, Coastal Carolina) did more than enough. However, AJ Green is a filthy stud and poured garbage burritos all over my theory for a week. There’s good… and there’s elite. Green is nasty!
— This sounds odd, but if Cedric Benson serves his suspension this week, the tenor of this game is decidedly more in Buffalo’s favor. Captain Barfight is by far their best weapon in the run game and gave the Bills fits at times.
— Leodis McKelvin is playing abysmal cornerback and there is no depth at this position. Happiness isn’t watching him try to cover AJ Green.
— Brian Leonard, as you may have heard in the Bills rap for Week Four, really is the name of my father-in-law. I almost texted him with disdain toward the end of the game. Sports are silly.
Stat line I liked…
Dwan Edwards, eight tackles
— Maybe the only d-lineman who didn’t wear down late.
Stat line I didn’t like…
Jermaine Gresham, four catches, 70 yards, TD
– The Bills aren’t fond of covering tight ends well. Sadly, this wasn’t an awful edition of it for them, but still poor.
For the Bllls? It was Bryan Scott until his major whiff on a tackle in the final drive that cost the Bills 10-15 yards near midfield. Let’s go with George Wilson, who I’ve lamented for much of this year. Wilson made a bunch of key tackles and good plays in coverage. “The Senator” finished with 12 tackles and an interception.
3-1 is fine. Win three of every four and you have a 12-4 record. I’m not expecting that, but still hoping the Bills can best my preseason prediction of 7-9.
Philadelphia presents a tricky opponent to defend and their secondary has a chance to really make Fitz pay for continued inaccuracy. Provided Michael Vick emerges unscathed from his Week Four tilt, I’m afraid we’re in for a scary trip to the bye week. Buffalo comes out of the Philly contest to face Eli Manning at the New Meadowlands. As for next week in Buffalo, I’ve got bad memories of Vick versus the Bills in Orchard Park. I don’t expect that to improve. Philadelphia 38, Buffalo 27.