— I don’t think anyone’s going to tell you to forget the names Aaron Murray or Matt Barkley after Sunday’s win, but for the first time this season Bills fans mostly saw what Ryan Fitzpatrick is capable of doing in T. Chandler Gailey’s passing game.
Of course, that’s with the exception of his horribly-timed and under-thrown interception with 2:57 to play and the final drive of the game (where Fitz was able to do little other than complete tiny dump-offs). Ruminate on this one for two weeks, Bills fans, and you’re going to chomp your cud clear off.
Still, Fitzpatrick was accurate and timely despite working behind a patchwork-at-best offensive line. On a gust-filled day he was able to pick-and-choose when to go more than a few yards past the line of scrimmage. He “managed the game” (and yes, I hate using that phrase).
— Justin Rogers and George Wilson were victimized on the game-winning touchdown and Wilson especially is struggling this season. He also biffed a major opportunity to ice the game when a would-be interception with 1:52 to play hit him right in the gut. Ouch. It’s easy to see why the Senator sat despondent and dejected, facing his locker, for nearly 10 minutes before facing his mistakes in the media (which he did honestly and candidly, as we’ve come to expect).
You never want to rule out a guy who has overcome a ton of obstacles in his career, but the 31 year old safety is facing another career crossroads.
— On one hand you want to give credit to Chan Gailey for managing a close game better, but it sure seemed challenge-worthy when Jairus Byrd made fumble magic and the ball appeared to be recovered in-bounds. If you get the ball back, game over. If you don’t, you lose a time-out in a game you hope you make another defensive play, making said time-out moot.
— Spiller’s growth was neatly summed up on a six-yard run in the second half as the previously “too fast to the hole” back played an extremely patient role in waiting for a lane to open up.
— Fred Jackson had a strong game but his boneheaded refusal to go out-of-bounds with :08 to go in the first half was mind-boggling. Come on, man, you’ve been in the league for a while now. Know the clock!
— The vitriol against Fitzpatrick was bordering on the extreme in the world of Twitter. With 7:52 to go in the third quarter, after Fitz connected with Donald Jones for a 15 yard TD strike, the embattled Bills quarterback was 19-of-23 for 169 yards and two scores. Yet after Titans touchdowns, tweets like “Fitztragic” and “Anyone else at QB” were circulating. It’s a hilarious world, this one where blame is heaped at one man’s feet.
— Chris Hairston got turnstyled by Kamerion “American Ninja” Wimbley for a sack that caused Ryan Fitzpatrick to fumble. I briefly assumed it was Erik Pears who was torched, since both tackles played poorly. Pears also took a ridiculous unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
— Jones’ touchdown celebration of the “Tonto” dance is to be verbally high-fived. Now he needs to break out “The Carlton.”
— How cute in a sport that pretends it gives a crap about its players and head health that Al Afalava goes helmet-first into Fred Jackson, who is being tackled by two other players, with nary a talking-to from the referee. Somewhat poetic justice that Afalava goes for a similar killshot on Spiller during the next play and bounces off the Buffalo back.
— Shawn Powell didn’t punt until the fourth quarter, but when he did it was memorably poor. It traveled 22 yards and the marking may have been generous. The ball appear to jump sideways off his foot and head for the glass windows of the press box in 3D style (Yes, I know life is 3D. Give me some language wiggle room here).
— Bryan Scott’s break-up of a pass to Jared Cook with four minutes to go in the game may go unnoticed in the great scheme of things, but it’s a key moment and one of the only time making a safety beef up to play linebacker works out. Scott’s coverage skills as a safety certainly helped the pivotal play. On the Titans final drive, they faced a 3rd-and-10 where Scott wrestled Nate Washington to the turf for only a 2 yard game. It worked.
— Aaron Williams is having such a bad season that it almost feels unfair to point it out (being so obvious and all). He’s reminding me of 2011 Leodis McKelvin or, worse, Chris Watson. There’s a comparison I hoped to never ever ever ever ever make.
Stat line I liked…
CJ Spiller & Fred Jackson, each over 100 all-purpose yards
– Perhaps now both players are back near 100 percent and the Bills can resume their offensive game plan for the season.
Stat line I didn’t like…
Chris Johnson, 18 carries, 3000 yards, 22 TDs
– Holy moly! Where have all the linebackers gone? Nigel Bradham is promising but young and the rest are doing a phenomenal job of showing the league how glaring of a hole the Bills have at the position.
– Unfortunately, that was everything the Bills have given their fans over the past few years. It was an opportunity to put a team in their playoff quest’s rearview mirror and they failed. It was a chance to win another home game and head to the bye week above .500. They failed. First, the defense, then the rest. Failure.
– Bye week.