Bills D and STs Drags O Through Game By The Hair

<B>In a Sentence: </B> <P> The defense and special teams dragged the offense down the field by the hair again!

Game Grades:

QB: D Other than the 60-yard flea flicker, which was also the sole bright spot for the offense in this game, Humpty was highly unimpressive.

RB: F The RBs themselves had 55 yards on 25 carries. McGahee did nothing. Shaud Williams did nothing. If this had been the Steelers, then perhaps this could be justified. No such luck however. Williams was much quicker and faster than Willis has been however.

WR: B- Again, due to a flat passing game overall, their opportunities were limited. Evans had the best day and is quickly making a strong bid to be the Bills' leading WR next season. The timing could not be better given Moulds' uncertain status this offseason. Josh Reed contributed and had two very good plays also.

TE: N/A With Campbell and Euhus out, the Bills TEs had no catches. Blocking was average.

OL: D The Bills as a team had 43 net yards of rushing on 1.5 yards-per-carry. Humpty had some time, but not always. The Cincy defense is not that good.

DL: C Adams and Schobel each logged a sack. Kelsay logged an interception. The defensive line was solid in pass pressure this week, but poor vs. the run.

LB: B- London Fletcher also logged a sack. Spikes logged an interception followed by a prompt TD return. Again, the Bengals rushing production was too much to justify a higher grade here.

DB: A- Coverage was solid and outperformed expectations.

Coaching: B- Up by 17 in a game clearly controlled by the Bills' defense and special teams, why risk an already injured Willis McGahee when he has not been running well. Marketing cannot mean that much. Had the injury to McGahee been worse, the results could have been disastrous heading into next season.

Again, a few too many trick plays and not enough basic execution, especially on the lines.

The Bills were outexecuted in most facets of the game other than in turnover generation. Play calling was obvious at times in this game as well. There was good play calling at other times.

Overall: B- It was a win, but the Bengals held the Bills to fewer yards and thereby had more yards themselves. Both teams fumbled or threw poorly, but the Bills came out on top in the exchange taking two interceptions and two of three fumbles while with a large element of luck retaining four of their own five fumbles.

Again, the fact that this was an average or below average team likely was the difference in this game coupled with Kitna playing Santa Claus.

Offense: D

The flea flicker to Lee Evans in the first was the crux and substance of the Bills offense in this game. That was the longest drive of the game and that play accounted for one of the four plays involved and 60 of 65 yards. Otherwise, the Bengal offense against a much better defense put the Bills' offense to shame.

The offense put up 13 points on its own including those seven. The next two longest drives of the game began at the Bills' 43 and 33-yard lines and both resulted in field goals. The defense put up seven with Spikes' INT/TD-return and Jason Peters outstanding punt block and resulting TD-recovery put up 14 points. The offense was handed six more points on field goals on drives already set up in field goal range. Red zone performance was a pathetic 1-for-5 and 3rd-down conversions were an equally poor 23% at 3-of-13.

Defense: B- The defense was aided by the luck of the turnovers in this game. A better Bills D was outplayed by a weaker and not as good Bengal D. Other than turnovers, the Bengal D outplayed the Bills D and therefore the Bengals O outplayed the Bills O.

Special Teams: B+ Punts were solid, returns were below average as a whole, coverages were above average as a whole. Jason Peters put up seven points with a spectacular punt block and TD recovery.

The Good:

It's a win!

Few penalties. 4 for 37 yards.

Once again, 14 non-offensive points directly and 6 more indirectly.

A victory in the turnover battle.

The Bad:

The offense was flat against a defense against which it should have been able to do quite a bit more.

Frivolous use of timeouts in the first half.

The Bills had only three drives with more than 17-yards gained due to the offense's ability to move it.

1-of-5 (20%) red zone efficiency as the Bills are still among the bottom feeders in the league.

The Bills managed only 59 yards of net offense on 24 plays in the first half apart from a single 60-yard flea flicker.

The Bengals dominated time-of-possession in the first half.


This game was an ugly win to be sure. The difference in this game was turnovers plain and simple. The Bengals had four of them. Two interceptions by Kitna who was filling in for the injured Carson Palmer were one of the keys. The Bengals had three fumbles and lost two of them. The Bills had five fumbles and lost only one of them.

The Bills' offense did nothing in this game overall. A single big play on a flea flicker amounted to nearly 30% of the entire Bills' offense for the day. There was little else offensively worth even mentioning. Meanwhile, the Cincy offense played much better vs. a much tougher defense.

The Bengals dominated the Bills defensive line with a rushing performance of 149 yards on nearly five yards-per-carry. Had it not been for fumbles and sloppy Kitna passes, the game would have been much closer. Willis McGahee had no broken tackles while Rudi Johnson broke tackles all afternoon.

It is no coincidence that the frequency with which trick plays fail are in proportion to the caliber of opponent faced.

My Take:

This game was a lot closer than it seemed. Two plays made the entire difference. Spikes' interception and TD return coupled with Peters' blocked punt and recovery for a touchdown were the big difference. Otherwise the Bengals outplayed the Bills.

I will swear up and down by this, but given the ease of schedule this season, given the play of the special teams and to a lesser extent the defense including the 64 points that they have now scored on the season directly and not including the 101 points that they have set up inside the opponents' 37-yard line, I remain convinced that had the Bills released Humpty and signed two linemen with the freed up $8 million, that these Bills would be 11-3 or 12-2 at present!

This game was a game that could have gone either way. Cincinnati had four turnovers. Two interceptions by the first time starting Jon Kitna along with 2 lost fumbles among three were the difference in this game along with a blocked punt and TD recovery by Jason Peters. The Bills had five fumbles but were fortunate to have recovered four of their own.

Meanwhile, vs. a much higher ranked Bills' defense, the Cincinnati offense outperformed the Bills' offense even though the Bills' offense went up against a defense not nearly rated as highly. The Bills defense struggled to stop Rudi Johnson.

This season is quickly headed to the last game of the season after the Bills breeze by the Forty-Niners next week 34-0 for what is quickly shaping up to be a playoff game in its own right. Depending upon the outcome of several games next weekend, the Steelers will likely be playing for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs while the Bills, if extremely fortunate, yet unlikely, will be playing for a simple playoff appearance if the last wild card spot has not by then been determined.

All eyes will be on this Bills team for that game in their first game that they'll have played vs. a team that currently has a winning record since they played the Patriots six weeks ago. Either way, following a trouncing of the Niners next week, the Bills will be playing for their first ten win season since 1999.


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