Immediate Reactions: Bills 19, Cardinals 16 (OT)

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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.

Should you:

a) pass

b) pass

c) pass

d) pass

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?

screengrab from @TrendingBuffalo

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.

Game ball(s)…

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.”

Next week…

— 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.


8 Responses to Immediate Reactions: Bills 19, Cardinals 16 (OT)

  1. Obligatory T. Chandler Gailey complaining:

    1) The Brad Smith pass was absolutely terrible. 16-13 lead. 3 minutes left in Arizona FG range. 2nd and 9. What in the world. I don’t care if that play worked, stupid stupid stupid.

    2) 54 seconds left in the 1st half. Ball on the 20 with no timeouts. Gailey calls two slant plays with nobody downfield. What are you trying to do? Expect Fred Jackson and Scott Chandler to break 20 tackles to get in FG range? Your QB has proven he can throw an ugly duck INT at any time. The only realistic result in a turnover in scoring range, and increased injury. Which almost happened on the needless sack to end the half.

    I didn’t hate the OT punt that much, because Lindell doesn’t have much of a leg. That goes on Nix.

    Fire Chan Gailey. He has no understanding of defense or game management. That is all.

    • 1. Agree 100.5%, about the worst play call I’ve seen Gailey make during his tenure here. (So far) Chan said in his postgame presser, paraphrased: If it works people say it’s a great call, if it doesn’t it was dumb. No, Thomas, the RESULT of the play can be great or dumb (in this case it was horrible) but the call ITSELF was beyond stupid. It was, in fact, incompetent. I hope Chan gave the players Monday off, because they saved his ass from a week of withering criticism.

      2. Gailey’s playcalling is at times plainly bizarre. I like some of his creativity, but hate when he puts his players in bad situations, like the example you gave. And his seemingly blind faith in Fitz is becoming irksome. I like the guy, but must the bearded one throw the ball at least 30 times every game? Chan says, No, no, of course not, I’d much ruther it be 40 times! RUN.THE.FOOTBALL.MORE.

      I didn’t mind the OT punt, either. This seems to be a big sore spot with fans tonight. Like, it was a CRAZY BAD decision. It wasn’t. A 54 yarder by Lindell is a 50/50 chance, anyway. If he misses, the Cards need only roughly 20 yards to give Feeley another chance at a 60 yarder. Who says he doesn’t make it again? So, punt, and hope that the backup QB makes a mistake before they can gain 40 yards. He did. Thank you, Byrd.

      Good job by the Defense, Chan’s imput, or lack thereof, notwithstanding. They played well. If we give up less than 20 points, we usually win. And this is WITH “Bad Fitz” as our starting QB. And “Good Fitz” seems like a mirage right now.

      I’m not ready to fire Chan…yet. After all, we are now 3-3, tied for the Division lead, and are going to the…

      SUPER BOWL!! :)

  2. I might be mistaken but after one run play in I think the second half, C.J. Spiller came up with a noticeable grimace on his face. I had a feeling they took him out due to an undisclosed injury. Any reports on his health?

  3. Couple issues and I’ll TRY to keep it brief:

    1) WTH was with that wildcat throw? I guess Gailey thinks anyone can complete a 40 yard pass…maybe that explains his apparent unwavering faith in Fitztragic.

    2) And about Fitz, It’s only gonna get worse. He’s demoralizing, I see it on the players faces especially Stevie. That guys always open and we employ the only QB in the league that can’t throw, seriously worse then Tebow at times.

    3) Miss another tackle guys…its fun to watch.

    4) Less snaps for Shep and George Wilson. More snaps for Kyle Moore, Nigel Bradham and give Searcy a chance…Wilson has’t made a play all season and he is the sofetest strong safety in the league.

    5)Punting in overtime was the right call, it’s just sad that it is. Coaches can’t/shouldn’t put players in situations to fail (Brad Smith). Protecting Lindell was the right thing to do, it would just be nice to have a good not average player at that position.

    6) The margain between the replacement refs and real refs isn’t that big…guys blow calls all the time.

    7) Fred fumbles on the first play?? News Flash!!! CJ is a pro-bowl talent. He’s younger, he’s playing better, he gets paid more, and defenses shit themselves when he gets to the second level. No reason, absolutely NO REASON CJ should carry the ball 15 times at minimum and catch 5-7 more. Seriously, let this guy carry you, figuratively and literally.

    That is all, no one will read this, but i needed to vent.

    p.s. Glad we won!!!!!

  4. Nobody will read this either, but I’m that fan Nick hates that wants the Bills to lose every game so they can finally get a QB. Fitz is far from the worst starter in the league, but I think that grounder to Freddy finally forced all Bills fans to accept a deep playoff run isn’t happening with Fitz.

    And this team is so headed to 7-9 wins.

    • First, I think that you and Pat do our friend Nick a great disservice. There must be many, many tens of people who read this blog regularly. And I am proud to count myself among those few score. :)

      Wanting the Bills to lose every (or any) game is simply a foreign notion to my mind. I have never, nor will I ever, root for this team to lose now – to get better later. I, too, want a stud QB someday, but not at that defeatist cost; it’s simply too demeaning to allow that kind of mentality anywhere near the hood of my fandom.

      As for Fitz…

      He is not nearly as horrible as some fans delude themselves to believe. But a few horrendous throws here and there are so commonplace that they fairly declare themselves to be expected. That skipper to Fred, missing Stevie high and/or wide, and a near constant inability to complete deep passes down either sideline – these are things that Fitz has always struggled with, from time to time. But, right now, there can be no denying that Fitz is even worse than at any time as a starter here.

      He has regressed. My biggest problem with him right now is that he is playing too scared. I have supported him from day one, mainly because of what he was NOT, compared to the QB he replaced, namely – Afraid.

      But Fitz is playing afraid now. I think after the 7 picks in the first two games, the coaches went to him (or he went inside himself) and said: Look we know you are capable of throwing 3 or 4 TD’s in game, but to accomplish that you will probably also throw 2 or 3 picks. Your limitations will force those outcomes. But we cannot handle that trade-off right now. Our Defense is not good enough, yet, to overcome those mistakes – either physically or pschologically.

      So, Fitz has dialed it back. Safe, short throws. No big mistakes. Putting up a 0 TD, 0 INT. game is better than a 3 TD, 3 INT. game, is the thinking. That’s fine. For now. As long as we run the ball and play good defense. But, that will only take Fitz, and this team, so far. How far?

      I think playoffs are still in the cards. I predicted 10-6 before the season, and I still see that as possible. But eventually, to make any kind of deep run, Fitz will have to open it more, and take those chances. And there’s the rub. I don’t want him to play afraid, but I don’t want him to screw it up. So, what to do?

      Ride Fitz for this year, and see what this team does around him. And, no matter where we draft next year, get a new QB in the first or second round. The best stud available. Whether or not the new kid plays next year will depend on how NFL ready he is, and, how Fitz finishes this season. Maybe the young gun starts day one, but maybe he waits a bit behind the Beard. But, it seems beyond any doubt that we will be drafting the (eventual) heir to Fitz in April 2013.

      But I still will not root for this team to lose now in order to move up a few draft positions. Even if one fails, the burning desire to WANT to always win is far too beautiful and noble and dignified a human emotion to ever be otherwise degraded.

      Go Bills.