The Buffalo Bills had their opportunities to seize momentum from the NY Giants on Sunday. Unfortunately a combination of undisciplined play, poor tackling and yes, some questionable flags, late in the game prevented the Bills from getting back into the game. Buffalo moved to 2-2 on the season following the loss, but there were some bright spots for the Bills on Sunday
Tyrod Taylor fights until the very end. That's something you have to like about the quarterback. Late in the game, down 14 points, Taylor did everything he could to cut the Giants' lead down to seven points. He connected with Charles Clay on a touchdown pass late, but it was called back after Richie Incognito was called for a chop block (that clearly wasn't a chop block). Regardless, you have to like how Taylor didn't give up on the comeback attempt.
The quarterback finished the game completing 28-of-42 passes for 274 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The interception toss could have been pulled in by Clay, but he allowed a Giants linebacker to rip the ball away from him. He added 15 yards on the ground, but it could have been even more if a holding penalty didn't negate his touchdown run of over 30 yards. Sunday wasn't Taylor's best performance, but he wasn't the reason Buffalo lost.
Running backs: C+
Karlos Williams finished his first start with 70 total yards and a touchdown. Not bad by any means, but his 2.2 YPC was disappointing after entering the game as the league leader in YPC average. That said, following the news that LeSean McCoy could be out for a few more weeks, Williams will be given the opportunity to bounce back next week against the Titans.
Boobie Dixon and Cierre Wood are fine role players but aren't players you should depend on to get major contributions.
Wide receivers: C+
Sammy Watkins may not have much to show this season in terms of his stat line, but on Sunday it was apparent how important he is to the Bills offense. Without Watkins on the field, Buffalo could focus on slowing down Percy Harvin, Robert Woods and Chris Hogan. Harvin, Buffalo's most reliable receiver heading into Sunday's game, finished with 26 yards on three receptions, Woods caught three passes for 33 yards, and Hogan led the way with 43 yards on five receptions. The trio didn't have much of an impact for Buffalo on Sunday.
Tight ends: A
Charles Clay finished the game with 111 yards on nine receptions and it could have been more if a chop block penalty didn't negate a late 32 yard touchdown reception. Clay finished the game with a great stat line, but he did have a few drops throughout the game. The chemistry is becoming apparent between Clay and Taylor, which is good news. That said, there hasn't been much production behind Clay at the position.
Offensive Line: C-
Cordy Glenn was the best player on the line against New York. He was strong in pass blocking and run blocking, and didn't allow any QB hits, pressures or sacks against New York. Richie Incognito had an average outing on Sunday, but average is a bit of a letdown after the great start to his season. That said, the left side of the line looked good. The sae can't be said about the rest of the line. Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik and Seantrel Henderson cannot say the same. The trio allowed five quarterback hurries and one quarterback hit on Sunday.
It wasn't their worst performance (See: Patriots, New England), but there is still plenty of work to be done along the line if the Bills want to make the playoffs this season.
Defensive Line: C+
It was a relatively quiet day from Buffalo's defensive line, but the Giants followed the Patriots blueprint. The unit only recorded three hurries on Eli Manning, according to Pro Football Focus, but the veteran was quick to get the ball out of his hands. Mixed into their overall performance was some good (Mario Williams making a highlight reel tackle, basically piledriving a Giants RB on his head. Kids, don't try that at home). There was also some bad play mixed in with Jerry Hughes having two penalties called against him on Sunday.
Preston Brown lost his composure late during Sunday's game and was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and an unnecessary roughness penalty. It was the first time Bills fans had seen Brown lose his cool on the field and hopefully it will be the last time. For most of the game, Brown was a tackling machine. He finished with 11 total tackles. Bradham also made some good plays on Sunday, but his missed tackle led to a 51 yard touchdown reception for Rashad Jennings. The duo each finished the game with a missed tackle. Throw in Brown's penalties and it wasn't the best day for the linebacker position.
Why Stephon Gilmore takes so much flak from Bills fans is beyond me. The team's No. 1 cornerback was terrific against the Giants. Gilmore was targeted 10 times on Sunday and allowed four passes to be completed for 49 yards. Yes, he was responsible for a touchdown, but that happens to the best of them. While he gave up a touchdown, he also recorded an interception and a pass defensed.
Gilmore was terrific on Sunday, but Ronald Darby was even better. It's clear that Buffalo found a gem in the second round. On Sunday, the rookie continued to play extremely well. He was targeted seven times on Sunday and gave up two receptions for six yards on the day. When in coverage against Odell Beckham Jr., Darby gave up one reception for eight yards on four targets. He was even better against Rueben Randle, giving up one reception but tackling the receiver for a loss of two yards.
Corey Graham played very well on Sunday. He's a natural at safety and was all over the field for Buffalo. He finished the game as Buffalo's leading tackler with 13 combined tackles. That said, the same can't be said for Bacarri Rambo and Duke Williams. Rambo was responsible for Dwayne Harris' touchdown and he seemed lost on the field at times Sunday. Williams also struggled a bit during his limited time on the field. Hopefully, Aaron Williams is ready to play on Sunday against the Titans. The unit needs him.
Colton Schmidt was the best kicker on the team on Sunday. He averaged 51.9 yards per punt and two of his punts landed inside the 20. Jordan Gay also performed well as the team's kickoff specialist. Only one kickoff return was registered by the Giants. Dan Carpenter's day started off very well after he connected on a 51-yard field goal but his short field goal miss of 30 yards was inexcusable. Those kicks should be gimmes.
Rex Ryan needs to get the Bills to play under control. Getting flagged 17 times for 135 yards cannot happen. The team imploded at the end of the game and let their emotions get the best of them. When that happens, Ryan needs to pull them from the field. This is the most talented Bills squad in quite a while, but they need to stay under control.
Greg Roman's playcalling wasn't at its best on Sunday, but the team did have two touchdowns wiped away by penalties. It'd be tougher to criticize him if Buffalo did put up 24 points on Sunday. Some of his calls near the goal line was questionable at best, however.
Last, Dennis Thurman needs to find a way to keep Buffalo's defense under control. He also needs to make adjustments on the fly if offenses continue to get the ball out of their hands within 2.5 seconds or less.