(WECK 1230) — Bad teams that work hard earn themselves emotional capital with the fans, something they don’t always spend.
The Bills used a lot of those reserves on Sunday in Minnesota.
Buffalo’s defense bend and broke, its offensive line was pitiful and if there is such a thing as Fitzmagic we’re in a period of the film where the warlocks have the wizard chained up. Let’s put this 24-point road loss to bed as quickly as possible.
On to the game…
— This was the offensive line’s worst game in a very long time, and Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t do them any favors early on. He’s not exactly “take a sack” guy, and even if he was it wouldn’t have been prudent to take sacks on play after play after play after play. Demetrius Bell has improved this year, but Jared Allen made him look like cement shoes with lead laces were a bad choice.
— CBS’ broadcasting team did not have a good day. Solomon Wilcots may think Fitz is the Bills quarterback of the future, but I’m not sure that should make anyone comfortable. Kevin Harlan, who I normally don’t have a problem with, conducted this broadcast if he made a bet he could call an entire game pretending to not understand the sport of football.
“Rising star Paul Posluszny” was a beaut (London Fletcher constantly found himself in the league top tacklers list as well), but the best was not acknowledging that while Donte Whitner was touched while making his interception, the refs could also be reviewing whether the ball touched the ground. As the review wore on, it felt comical hearing them discuss how “to me, it seems he was definitely touched.” Yes, to you and everyone with functioning eyeballs.
— About Posluszny, what do we make of him? He’s been healthy all year and made a bunch of tackles, but he’s also too slow to be a feature linebacker. Do we accept that he can be the weaker of two middle linebackers on an average defense? Too many times we’ve seen him make the right read on a play but be too slow to catch the runner.
— Leodis McKelvin, what the heck? We know you can’t catch the football when it’s thrown by the other team’s quarterback, but can you start treating returns with a modicum of common sense? I’m not even talking about running into Arthur Moats in overtime last week… I just want you to stop fumbling. Thank you.
— Speaking of Moats, I think this may qualify as a “hit” for Buddy Nix (and you know I don’t say that often). He’s got a bit of nasty in him as we saw in his finishing the sack of Ben Roethlisberger for about two hours last week, but he’s also transitioning from a college defensive end to linebacker. Over the last two weeks, it seems he’s really starting to make plays.
Moats is miles away from being a stud, but three or four times this week he made bonafide Joey Porter plays (though admittedly I think he’s a step slower than Porter or Tavaris Jackson is the fastest man on Earth). He also may have ended Brett Favre’s career. Don’t cross the Moats, Wrangler man.
— I wonder what the record is for most rookie undrafted free agent receivers with a touchdown in a given season is after David Nelson joined Donald Jones in UFAs to corral a score from Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2010. If it’s three or less, they may as well aim at Naaman Roosevelt for the rest of the year just to write a record.
— Speaking of Roosevelt, he had a big hit on special teams… the kind of hit that shows he played offense for most of his life. His helmet-first hit on a kickoff will make highlight reels because there was no flag thrown, but I feel great that the UB grad contributed on the NFL level. This happens the same day James Starks makes his NFL debut by gaining 73 yards on his first 18 carries for Green Bay. Get ready for a Buffalo kid to be talked about on national shows as a new surprise key to the Packers’ attempt at an NFC title.
— C.J. Spiller has had a pretty good game… if you count all of his carries this season as one contest. Spiller now has 48 carries for 199 yards to go with 20 receptions for 182 yards a score in 10 games. His talent superiority to bulldog Fred Jackson was on display today and only served notice that Chan Gailey is not going to waste the team’s wager on Spiller as an every down back on a poor team. Spiller may be a real two in a 1-2 punch next year before becoming the one come 2012.
— You know what’s funny about Fitz’s tough day? One could argue it was barely inferior to Minnesota slinger Tavaris Jackson. Fitz turned the ball over thrice, but so did Jackson, and Minnesota’s wide receivers and running backs bailed out their man far more often than the Bills helped No. 14. Fitzpatrick didn’t do much good today, but neither did the majority of his teammates.
–The Andy Levitre snap off his middle ground to Fitz’s hands to the turf at the one-yard-line was the opposite of fun.
— If that was Adrian Peterson at 65-70%… what does 100% AP do to this Bills run defense? NFL record numbers? Guy runs like he’s ticked off at the world and the only thing that will make him happy is smashing things and getting touchdowns. In other words, he’s the Hulk.
— Someone on the Vikings staff should talk Favre into retiring this week and saying it’s to “allow Leslie Frazier to see what he has in Jackson.” He won’t, but it would be cool and his first good PR move in a long, long time.
— The Stamp showed up late to make three grabs for 72 yards. Lee is really fast and here’s hoping next year brings him big numbers as he hopefully goes 100 percent.
— Good to see Stevie Johnson make a big play, though the nerves of coming back from last week’s gaffes probably lead to his first drop. I expect good things next week at home, and a nice cheer from the Ralph Wilson Stadium crowd.
This week’s cut…
Quinton Ganther, who tackled the punter… illegally…. 40 yards after the line of scrimmage. Congrats.
Stat line I liked…
The secondary, four interceptions
— I’m not saying I liked the secondary, as Jairus Byrd is either playing hurt or without the gumption to take risks to make picks, but when all was said and done the Bills gave the ball away five times and still managed to only be a minus-1 in the turnover battle.
Stat line I didn’t like…
Bills offense, 3-12 on third down
— No, this figure isn’t Edwardsian in futility, but it’s still subpar. Fitz even tossed in a quick checkdown four-yard pass on a 3rd-and-8 for good measure. Ugh.
No magic = no win.
Home to a Cleveland team that has won four of six and boasts wins against New Orleans and New England, but also Miami, Cincy and Carolina. I’d look for this to be a pretty solid contest, but Jake Delhomme didn’t throw an interception in Sunday’s win over Miami. In his other three games for the Browns, he’s thrown two interceptions in each. The Browns completed 10 passes to tight end Ben Watson and saw an off-day from running back Peyton Hillis in the win. I’d look for the Browns and Bills to take this right down to the final drive… with the Bills winning 25-24.