The heart of Buffalo's defense is gutted out — Marcus Stroud, Keith Ellison, Terrence McGee and Kawika Mitchell were all in street clothes. Yet somehow, the Bills held the electric Maurice Jones-Drew to 66 yards rushing. Remarkable. Give this beleagured unit credit. Coming into Sunday's game, the Bills ranked dead last against the run. And they shut down MJD. No one saw this coming.
How? Perry Fewell mixed things up defensively. He used three down linemen occasionally to confuse Jacksonville. With Aaron Schobel at linebacker, the Jaguars' were dumbfounded. Unlike Dick Jauron, Fewell seems willing to think outside of the box. Against the prolific Jones-Drew, it worked.
Paul Posluszny and Bryan Scott, mauled one week prior, were stout up front with 22 combined tackles. The Bills' defense can build off this type of performance, no doubt.
Oh. Hey, T.O. Nice to see you.
Finally, Buffalo's $6.5 million wide receiver is earning his paycheck. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick went to T.O. all game, 14 of his 31 attempts were targeted to T.O. And this time, Owens delivered. The veteran receiver caught nine passes for 197 yards, including a team-record 98-yard touchdown.
Jacksonville, without Rashean Mathis, had no answer. Mathis' backup Tyron Brackenridge was a burnt Pop Tart on Owens' bomb. Give Fizpatrick credit. He located a weakness in the opposing defense and attacked. A Buffalo quarterback hasn't done that in a long time.
You hope Owens can parlay this game into something bigger. With the team at 3-7, the experiment has already failed. Owens was supposed to lift the Bills into the postseason — not post all-world numbers in defeat. Still, it'd be great to see Owens lift this offense as a whole out of the gutter.
Props to Owens for being a sport after the game. Like Tennessee's Chris Johnson last week, Jacksonville's Mike Sims-Walker asked T.O. for his uniform afterward. And Owens obliged. Classy.
Their penalties negated two long touchdown runs. Nelson was called for holding on Fred Jackson's kickoff return for a score and Scott's hands to the face flag nixed a deep bomb from Fitzpatrick to Lee Evans. Inexcusable. It's reasons like these that the Bills will miss the playoffs yet again. Contenders don't make such errors.
Both penalties were legit, too. You cannot blame the officiating. Dick Jauron built a culture of undisciplined football that must be overhauled.
Lynch left Sunday's loss with a shoulder injury. Fewell said the team will evaluate him Tuesday and move on from there. Here's a suggestion: bench him.
Since returning from his three-game suspension, Lynch has been a major disappointment. As the Bills' A-1 back, Lynch has averaged a meager 3.1 yards per carry whereas Fred Jackson is gaining 4.1 a clip. Ten games in, it should be painfully obvious. Jackson, the A-2, is a much better running back than Lynch. He's more than a yin to Lynch's yang. Jackson is a workhorse that must be fed 20 carries.
Yes, the Bills' offensive line is an utter mess. Season-ending injuries to Eric Wood and Seth McKinney has raised the group to a code red state of emergency. But rather than watch Lynch beast-mode himself into a cloud of dust, anoint Jackson the bell-cow back. He is running with more purpose.
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