This sure didn't seem like 100 yards. Not at all.
While tying his shoe, George Wilson couldn't believe what he heard in the conversation next to him. A reporter mentioned to Bryan Scott that Ricky Williams rushed for his third straight 100-yard game. No way, Wilson thought.
"Really?" the safety asked.
That's the kind of the day it was for the Buffalo Bills' defense in Sunday's 31-14 win over Miami. All year the unit has been hemorrhaged to a point of embarrasment in the running game. Castoffs like Houston's Ryan Moats have iced wins and Buffalo's run ‘D' caved to last in the NFL.
Lately, it's been a different story.
Two weeks ago, Buffalo stymied Maurice Jones-Drew to 66 yards on 25 carries for a season-low 2.6 yards per carry. And on Sunday, Ricky Williams got his yards but never broke the defense's back. On 27 carries, his longest run was only 11 yards.
Buffalo's beaten and battered defense gang-tackled Williams into a heap of bodies play after play in the second half. The offense finally heated up and the Bills won. Go figure.
"They have an explosive run game," Scott said of Miami. "Early on, they kind of threw some things at us. But overall, especially in the second half, I think we cleaned it up. We kept the score close and were able to pull it out in the fourth quarter."
Scott has played a key role in the Bills' improved run ‘D.' With an apocalypse of injuries hammering outside linebacker, Perry Fewell moved Scott from strong safety to linebacker. The switch got off to a rocky start at Tennessee, where Chris Johnson ripped Buffalo for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
Since then, Scott has 17 solo tackles. He's reading and reacting better and better. Though a tad undersized, he brings added quickness.
"You're looking at everything from a different vantage point," Scott said. "There are different reads. Going against guards, centers and tackles all game is a lot different. But I'm just glad to be a part of this thing. I'm trying to make the transition as smooth as possible. The coaches have been coaching me up. So I'm having fun out there."
Another key? Kyle Williams' threshold for pain.
After missing three games, Williams has decided to gut out his knee injury. And Buffalo's boulder of a defensive tackle isn't merely playing. He's producing. Several times on Sunday, he beat Dolphins' guards to cleanly to trip up Ricky Williams in the backfield. He had eight tackles. More important, he clogged lanes to prevent Williams from gaining a head of steam. Not easy against an overpowering, try-to-stop-us offensive line. The Dolphins' Wildcat offense telegraphs runs, daring teams to stop them. Williams did.
The four-year pro believes Buffalo's embattled run defense — which has been gutted like a buck on the first day — is finally turning the corner.
The problem was never schematics, rather plain execution.
"When we've been in the position to make plays, we've made the plays," Kyle Williams said. "In the past when we've had those awful games, we've missed tackles, guys will be out of their gaps, it just compounds and makes it worse and worse. I think we've corrected that."
As for that knee?
"I didn't make it any worse so that's a good sign," he said. "Obviously there are times when you get in vulnerable spots with it and feel it or tweak it. But I didn't make it any worse, so that makes me happy. I feel like it's getting better."
So is Buffalo's run defense. Against the New York Jets Thursday in Toronto, it'll need to step up again. With Mark Sanchez stumbling through a 17-interception rookie season, expect the Jets to lean heavily on Thomas Jones.
For Buffalo to win, Williams, Scott and the revived run defense must be ready.
Thursday night will have a bizarre feel. In Toronto, everything is a hair different.
"It's different. It's not Orchard Park," Williams said. "But it's a good venue and a great city. We have to go up there and win a football game."
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