The Bills defense took a pounding in the loss to Arizona, and with a week off before taking on the San Diego Chargers, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell certainly has a few things he needs to shore up.
During the Bills' four consecutive victories to start the season, the defense was the primary reason for the team's success. As the offense was struggling to get untracked, the defense kept the Bills close so that Trent Edwards could direct three consecutive fourth-quarter comeback victories.
The Bills held their first three opponents under 100 yards rushing and under 255 yards of total offense, and Jacksonville had the highest first-down total with 19. Most important, Buffalo's highest point yield was 23.
On Sunday, Arizona had 24 points, 19 first downs and 235 yards -- by halftime. The Cardinals finished with 41 points, 28 first downs, 373 yards, a 9-of-15 conversion rate on third down, and more than 36 minutes of possession time.
"They beat us up, there's no doubt about it," linebacker Paul Posluszny said of a unit that began the day ranked seventh in yards allowed, fifth in points allowed and was first in third-down defense. "Putting that many points on the board, we can't accept that. They played great, but we made mistakes."
The Bills pass rush was non-existent as the front four could not generate pressure, and Fewell couldn't utilize much of his blitz package because the Cardinals were sending four or five players into the pattern and he needed bodies to cover. Even though he didn't have Anquan Boldin, Kurt Warner picked the Bills apart, completing 33 passes to nine receivers.
"They came in with the mind-set of quick passing, and we didn't apply pressure," defensive end Chris Kelsay said. "The times he did hold the ball, we still weren't putting pressure on him."
The Cardinals scored on all four of their possessions in the first half and converted all six of their third-down plays in taking a 24-14 lead.
"It's a tough one to swallow," linebacker Kawika Mitchell said. "It was extremely frustrating. We've been pretty good on third down, but so have they, and we knew that it would be a challenge. Even when we did get them to third-and-long, they still converted. They were dictating the game."
The Bills feared this matchup all week, Arizona's potent passing game against their secondary, which would be without top cornerback Terrence McGee, who has a sprained knee. But then losing free safety Ko Simpson to a hamstring injury in the second quarter further depleted the secondary.
Fewell turned to Ashton Youboty and rookie Leodis McKelvin to take over for McGee on the outside, with Youboty moving into the slot on passing downs. As it turned out, there were a lot of those, as the Cardinals spread the field and went three- and four-wide most of the day. George Wilson took over for Simpson.
"They had a good plan for us," Posluszny said. "They played well. Their short passing game, we didn't play fundamentally well with that. They hit some passes on third down that they shouldn't have, but you have to give them credit, they just played a lot better than us."