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— So the Bills are 0-2 against good teams, 2-0 against bad teams and 1-1 against middle-of-the-road teams. Sounds like a recipe for 8-8 and a shot at Manti Te’o. Oh, I’m kidding: a quarterback!
Yet honestly, as Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to regress, don’t you almost as badly want to see a force of nature linebacker in the lineup? Nigel Bradham is intriguing and Nick Barnett is almost adequate for someone on the wrong side of a career arc, but wouldn’t you adore watching a Clay Matthews, Patrick Willis or similar type go sideline-to-sideline, collecting the scraps off this defensive line?
— Yes, it was early and against an offensive line that probably would take a phone call from Cornell Green right about now, but the Bills safety was everything Buffalo fans expected with the team added Mario Williams in free agency. The pocket absolutely collapsed around Kevin Kolb, who had little choice but to try and plow his way out of the end zone. That didn’t work and Chris Kelsay got career sack — wait for it… guess it… got a number yet? — 32.
What was your guess?
— The Brad Smith interception was super silly, awful play call… but it would’ve been nice to see pass interference called as Donald Jones was slowed from getting to the football. It’s a game of inches, split-seconds even, and that was one of at least two times (the much ballyhooed early “overthrow” of Stevie Johnson) that armplay costs the Bills a big play.
— If there are other football minds in Chan Gailey’s circle of friends, they should find a way to retroactively drug test him for the final few minutes of regulation. Up three points and you’ve basically got the game in check? Go for the jugular with a wide receiver throwing a long pass after not tossing a football in live action in, what? 64 years? The real answer: Brad Smith hadn’t thrown a pass this season and attempted one in 15 games last season.
THEN, after Jay Feely connected on the 61-yd field goal and Fitz was sacked on the first play of the next drive, he quits on anything other than Fred Jackson runs between the tackles. Why? Well, Jackson had fumbled earlier and was averaging 3.1 yards-per-carry at the time. That’s far superior to C.J. Spiller’s 6.5 to that point in the game. PLUS, who would want to deprive the Cardinals a chance at an emotional last minute field goal attempt?
— But wait, there’s more! In overtime, Spiller gets you to the 35. Pop quiz, you’ve got a quarterback playing very poorly and just a few more yards needed to make life easier for Rian Lindell.
That’s the quiz T. Chandler Gailey took at the time. He chose B.
— And there’s more? You betcha! I’ll throw in: Punting from the 35-yard-line in overtime. Holy moly! Not to mention, Rian Lindell is fairly reliable. And, if you don’t have a kicker who can hit from 52, don’t carry a kicker.
— The six sacks were nice, even if somewhat expected against a terrible Arizona line. To be honest, Bills history has taught us that nothing is expected. Buffalo has been the team that’s made bad offensive lines look like a set of Munoz quints. It’s actually a Buffalo sports thing: in the Queen City, even P.J. Axelsson can be Pavel Bure for a night.
Mario Williams did go manimal on the Cardinals line. He was held, poked, slapped… and still got there. I still believe Marcel Dareus is the key to the defense — Buffalo’s d-tackles keep line’s honest — but we got a glimpse of dominant Mario today.
— The Bills linebackers and cornerbacks tackled so poorly in the second half, it’d be fair to think the Cardinals 42nd string running backs were covered in butter or some sort of mutagen. There was a play here or there from Bryan Scott or Nigel Bradham but, holy moly, shouldn’t someone back the line?
— This offensive line needs Kraig Urbik back. I’d like Cordy Glenn, too, but beggars can’t be choosers.
— Before we go any further, remember when this was ruled a first down for the Cardinals?
Now let’s all whine about replacement refs when this is a far more simple call than a Hail Mary.
— I feel horrible for Cardinals fans because they keep thinking, “Maybe if Kevin had a line.” We’ve done that dance, ‘Zona (does anyone say ‘Zona?). It stinks.
— Kolb did some things against these Bills and I need to apologize to the linebackers who were instructed to stay back when he started to scramble. Here’s what Gailey said after the game:
“We gave up 180 yards rushing but 66 were his. Normally he’s a scramble to throw guy, not a scramble to run guy. We were telling guys to stay back because he likes to move and it hurt us today.”
— Jairus Byrd is in a contract year and the most effective player in the secondary, so there’s always that meteor hurtling to Earth you think is a star.
Stat line I liked…
Bills defense, six sacks
— Yes, the Cardinals line is Swiss cheese but six is six. Kudos to the maligned unit for seizing an opportunity.
Stat line I didn’t like…
William Powell, 13 carries, 70 yards (5.4 ypc)
— That’s William Powell, everybody.
Jairus Byrd, two interceptions
— A lot of folks have been impressed with Byrd throughout the summer and into the Fall, and throw me onto the pile today. The picks are even more impressive considering he was battling multiple injuries to take the field.
— When was the last time you thought to yourself, “You know, we really got a break there? Thanks.”
— Tennessee at the Ralph. Here’s hoping they can talk Gailey into running the football a ton, because it’s doable with the Titans. If he believes in Fitzy-Go-Lucky… ugh. The Titans are 0-3 on the road this year and have allowed 30 or more points in all but one game (Thursday’s 26-23 win over Pittsburgh). I’m going to begrudgingly take our hometown Bills, 26-16.