Bills Cut Giants Down to Size

The Bills and Giants entered this game as two similar teams in many ways. Both have head coaches on the outs. Both have offenses that have struggled to put points on the boards. Both were 4-7 entering this contest. Both are out of their respective playoff races. Both were teams expecting to compete for their respective division titles. The better team on Sunday however was clearly the Bills albeit through only a portion of the game.

It was an odd game with the Bills offense waking up out of a coma briefly towards the end of the first quarter on straight through the middle of the third amassing an insurmountable 24-7 lead during that stretch prior to going right back into a coma. During that stretch the Bills offense looked like a top-rate scoring machine. Bledsoe went 17 of 24 for 241 yards and 2 touchdowns, an unprecedented performance thus far this season for less than two quarters of play.

The Bills did little else offensively for the other near 34 minutes however as if to suggest that they had struggled to even get that out of their offense against the Giants' subpar defense and were exhausted following that six series set resulting in three touchdowns and a field goal. Emphasizing that later in the game was a 50-yard Lindell FG try that simply fell short. During that cycle whereby they managed to put up more points than they had scored over the last ten quarters prior to this game, they were simply on fire.

Other than Amani Toomer's 77-yard touchdown reception on a nicely planned play leaving London Fletcher man-to-man on Toomer with safety help late from Lawyer Milloy, the Giants had fewer than 150 yards of total offense otherwise. Once again the defense stepped up and held the Giants to only seven points on one big play all afternoon.

Now the bad; While putting up 24 points, Bledsoe was sacked three times for 16 yards still in only two and a half quarters and had numerous over and under throws as well. All in all the good outweighed the bad, however a solid four quarter performance it was not.

Defensively, the Bills had six sacks and one forced fumble, however consider the opponent. The Giants entered this game starting three rookie offensive linemen and one second year lineman. Only the Giants' center Bober had any significant experience. So while it would be easy to rave over the performance of the defense, the proverbial playing field was somewhat slanted in the Bills' favor from that perspective.

Nonetheless, Aaron Schobel once again proved that he is quite capable of anchoring his end of the Bills defensive line by registering three sacks and being a force otherwise. The secondary played fairly well all day leaving few open receivers for Kerry Collins to hit when he did have time to throw. Takeo Spikes gets an honorable mention if nothing else for his single play on which he registered his sole sack of the game. After beating one man coming in and then discarding Tiki Barber left back to block as if he were a rag doll simply tossing him to the side as if to say "pardon me, excuse me" en route to sacking Collins.

The Bills dominated everywhere except vs. a tenacious Giant defensive line and front seven on blitz plays. In fact, the Bills streak of scoring came during a curious lull in blitzing activity on the part of the Giants in a puzzling lack of applying pressure on Bledsoe and the Bills' offense. Why Fassel chose to back off then I suppose will never be known but it potentially cost the Giants the game.

Game Grades:

QB: A- There was some erratic play, but during the time that he was on fire it more than made up for it. Again however, it was a below average Giant defense of which Bledsoe made quick work of over a period of less than two quarters.

RB: A+ With 113 yards on 4.3 yards-per-carry, one touchdown, and running well when it mattered most during the fourth quarter in order to take the clock down, all the while demonstrating big play ability, Henry looked very good in this game.

TE: B+ Blocking by the tight ends was solid throughout the game and Dave Moore's key touchdown reception demonstrating very good route running highlighted the day here.

WR: A Reed, Moulds, and Shaw combined for 15 grabs for 214 yards and one touchdown. Reed was open all day, caught very well, and demonstrated some of that patented after-the-catch running ability. He seems to improve weekly now.

OL: B- With Tucker in for an injured Pucillo, the line well but not spectacularly. Teague had two holding penalties, Tucker had one holding and a false start, and Sullivan had a false start as well for 40 total yards. Protection was good only struggling regularly on blitzes.

DL: B- It is tough to grade this unit below that, however the fact remains that there is still little pressure on opposing QBs unless blitzes are applied. Aaron Schobel was the virtual lone force in straight four man rushes.

LB: A Fletcher made a respectable albeit unusual effort in pass coverage on Toomer on the Giants' lone scoring play. At fault for that was more the defensive play selection and on-field adjustment than Fletcher who essentially hung with a faster Toomer. Spikes was solid as was Posey outside of his usual over-pursuits which were few in this game.

DB: B- Coverage was good but not great for much of the game. Pressure from Bills blitzes prevented more passes from connecting than the coverage did. Coverage certainly was not bad however.

STs: C- A below average day for special teams. Moorman's punts were very good, Lindell fell short on a 50-yard attempt, and returns were below average.

Coaching: A Good balance on offense, about 50/50 run/pass. A very effective mix of blitzing and stunting packages which kept the Giant offense off balance all day.

Summary:

While many Bills fans may take this game as more than it is, it was pure and simply a somewhat less than impressive win vs. a very weak opponent with similar team struggles as the Bills yet less talent on paper. Fans using this game to build expectations for wins in future weeks will be disappointed. While the generation of offense and in particular a passing game was refreshing, had the opponent been any one of the remaining opponents, we can all but be assured that the outcome of this game may very well have been vastly different.

This may very well have been the last win for the Bills this season. As the Bills prepare to host a Pennington-led and resurgent Jets team at the Ralph next week, things do not let up with a road trip to Tennessee the following week, then Miami again at the Ralph, and what figures to be a depressing game to wrap the season up in Foxborough vs. the Pats. The Jets are playing much better football since Pennington has come back from injury and the other three teams appear to be easily headed for the playoffs at this point.

So expect Bledsoe and the passing game to continue to struggle again over the last four games to round out the season. All things considered, this may very well have been the easiest opponent that the Bills will have faced this season with perhaps the Redskins being the only other opponent to challenge for that "honor." Fans hungry for some success had better savor this win since it may very well be over nine more months until the Bills register another.

Comments: mweiler.billsreport@cox.net


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