Bills' offensive line proving pundits wrong

The Bills were supposed to be the doormats of the NFL, a team with no chance to win. Based in large part on the strength of their offensive line, Buffalo's offense is among the top in the league.

  Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Buffalo's 2-0 start has been the play of an offensive line that many pundits felt was the weakest area on the team. Through two games, Ryan Fitzpatrick has been sacked once, and he's rarely been pressured, not even by the stout defensive line of the Raiders. However, one of the starters, right guard Kraig Urbik, will miss perhaps a month after suffering a knee injury in the victory over Oakland. Chad Rinehart stepped in and the changeover was almost flawless.

   --There was a cornucopia of numbers put up by the Bills offense in Sunday's come-from-behind win over Oakland, not the least of which was a team-record 34 first downs, and 481 total yards of offense:

   ---The Bills have topped 30 points in the first two games for the first time since 2003, and their 79 points are the second-most in team history through two weeks, topped only by the 87 scored by the 1991 team which was Buffalo's greatest offensive team.

   ---The 35 second-half points tied for the second most in team history, matching an output achieved just last year in a victory over Cincinnati.

   ---The comeback from an 18-point deficit was the sixth-best in team history.

   ---Running back Fred Jackson became just the third back in Bills history to enjoy back-to-back 100-yard rushing games to open a season (O.J. Simpson in 1973 and '75, and Thurman Thomas in 1991 were the others).

   ---The 35 points Buffalo were the most in a victory since 2002 when the Bills beat Minnesota 45-39 in overtime.

   ---And the 935 combined yards by the team was the seventh-most in a Bills game and interestingly, three of those games were played against the Raiders.

McKelvin, Getty
Buffalo Bills DB L. McKelvin Aug. 27, 2011 (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
  --Cornerback Leodis McKelvin endured a rough day, especially when you consider the Raiders were playing without both starting receivers, plus a key backup and their No. 1 tight end. Jason Campbell still found a way to pass for 323 yards, and one of the reasons was that he kept testing McKelvin, and was winning. McKelvin had a brutal day against rookie Denarius Moore (5 catches, 146 yards, 1 TD), but McKelvin wasn't totally buying it.

   "I wouldn't necessarily call it a struggle, I'm not going to sit here and lie to you, it wasn't a struggle," McKelvin said. "You're going to give up plays, you're going to make plays. Obviously I got beat on a go route and things like that, but he made a great play. It's not like I wasn't there. There was one pass where I wasn't there so it wasn't like I wasn't struggling, I played great defense. I just didn't make the play."

   But that's the problem with McKelvin, there are far too many instances where he doesn't make the play.


   --QB Ryan Fitzpatrick needs eight TD passes to tie Doug Flutie for fifth place on the team's career list. Flutie threw 47 TD passes from 1998-2000. Buffalo is 12-6-1 when Fitzpatrick has a QB rating of 80 or above.

   --RB Fred Jackson leads the NFL in rushing through two weeks with 229 yards on 35 carries. He topped the 3,000-yard career mark in Sunday's win over the Raiders, just the eighth player in Bills history to cross that milestone.

   --RB C.J. Spiller, the team's first-round pick in 2010 who has been used sparingly, had just four carries against the Raiders last Sunday. But he responded with 63 yards - a hefty 15.8 average - and likely earned the opportunity for more work in the future. Spiller showed more decisiveness and was better in his decision-making against Oakland and it paid off.

   --TE Scott Chandler has emerged as a new weapon for the Bills. Through two games, he has seven catches for 79 yards and three TDs. He's just the third TE in team history with touchdown receptions in the first two games of a season. Reuben Gant in 1978 and Jay Riemersma in 1997 were the others.

   --WR Steve Johnson will be less than 100 percent for the Patriots game due to a nagging groin problem that worsened in last week's win over Oakland. Johnson missed some plays down the stretch but still had a strong game with eight catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. He will likely miss practice time this week to rest.

   --WR David Nelson could be called upon to play an even bigger role against New England this week than he played against Oakland. Nelson caught a career-high 10 passes for 83 yards and the game-winning TD against the Raiders. Stevie Johnson is nursing a groin problem and if he's hobbled, Nelson will be called upon more.

   --CB Terrence McGee will likely miss another week or two with a hamstring injury. McGee missed nine games last year after surgery to correct a nerve problem near his knee. Pass coverage has been weak and the Bills are eager to get McGee back in the lineup.

   --OLB Shawne Merriman is having his snaps closely monitored by the Bills who have concerns about his health. The free agent has been hobbled by leg issues the past three seasons. He played about 35 snaps against Oakland last week, registering four tackles. But he is still without a sack.

   --ILB Nick Barnett led the Bills with 14 tackles and a forced fumble in Sunday's win over the Raiders. The Green Bay free agent has helped the team's run defense improve from 32nd a year ago to 21st through two games.

   --PK Rian Lindell is 33rd on the NFL's career field goal list with 252, three behind Cleveland's Phil Dawson. Lindell tied Cornelius Bennett by playing in his 130th game for Buffalo against Oakland, 29th on the club's career games played list.

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