AFC East: Bills Stumble, But Still Competing

The Buffalo Bills slipped to 4-2 on the season after letting one get away to the New York Giants. Buffalo is competing in every game, proving doubters wrong. The bye gives the team a chance to regroup.

"Disappointed Bills" fortunate to be 4-2 at bye

 As the Bills head into their bye week, they sit in second place in the AFC East at 4-2, one game behind the New England Patriots. For a team that was expected to battle with Miami for last place in the division, it's quite a surprising start.

   Just not for the players who expressed aggravation that they don't have a better record.

   "Anytime you're above .500 you're doing something right, so we're 4-2 heading to the bye, but the two losses we have, we beat ourselves so it's frustrating and I'm not satisfied," third-year free safety Jairus Byrd saif after the Bills' 27-24 loss to the New York Giants in Week 6. "We should be better than we are."

   In reality, the Bills probably are fortunate to be 4-2. After blowing out Kansas City in Week 1, they rallied to win back-to-back home games, overcoming an 18-point halftime deficit to defeat Oakland and then coming from 21 points down in the second quarter to stun New England and end a 15-game losing streak to the Patriots.

   Buffalo then went on the road and blew a 14-point lead at Cincinnati in a last-play, 23-20 loss before returning home to knock off the scuffling Philadelphia Eagles. In the game against New York, the Bills were up 14-7, fell behind 17-14 and 24-17, then pulled even and were driving for a potential go-ahead score when Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a critical interception near the goal line. The Giants proceeded to march to the game-winning field goal.

   The Bills go into their bye with plenty of injuries, and plenty of things to work out. They were down three defensive starters in New York (defensive tackle Kyle Williams and linebackers Shawne Merriman and Chris Kelsay), and on offense the continued absence of injured wide receiver Donald Jones seems to have stunted their downfield passing game. Also, both left tackles - Demetrius Bell and Chris Hairston - are now injured, though the bye may be enough time to get everyone (Jones excluded) back on the field when Buffalo plays host to Washington in its annual "home" game in Toronto Oct. 30.

   As for what needs improving, clearly the Bills have to start finding ways to stop opposing offenses. They are allowing 420 yards per game, and have recorded only four sacks in six games, worst in the league. The pass rush has been a huge problem, and the only way the defense has stopped teams is by creating turnovers, and there were none of those against the Giants.
   "We still have a lot of work to do," said Fred Jackson, who is clearly the team's MVP at this point.

Bills scramble to cope with injuries on defense

   The Bills played without three key starters on defense against the Giants. Tackle Kyle Williams (foot) and linebackers Shawne Merriman (Achilles) and Chris Kelsay (calf) were all sidelined, so Buffalo went with Kellen Heard at tackle and Danny Batten and Spencer Johnson at linebackers, and all three are severe downgrades.

   BY THE NUMBERS: 4 - Times in Bills history, including Sunday against the Giants, where they had a rushing touchdown and a pass touchdown of at least 50 yards in the same game. Fred Jackson ran 80 yards for a score, and Naaman Roosevelt caught a 60-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick.

   -- RB C.J. Spiller may be changing positions. He worked primarily as a wide receiver in multiple-WR sets and caught five passes for 39 yards against the Giants.
   -- WR Stevie Johnson had five catches for 39 yards and a TD, and he was the intended receiver on two passes that were intercepted by New York's Corey Webster.
   -- QB Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 21 of 30 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw two pivotal interceptions.
   -- CB Terrence McGee returned to play for the first time since the opening defensive series in Week 1 and he was in on a team-high 11 tackles and had two pass breakups.
   -- RB Fred Jackson had a career-long 80 yards touchdown and gained 121 yards on 16 carries, plus caught five passes for 47 yards.
   -- QB/WR Brad Smith ran four times from the Wildcat formation and gained 26 yards including 18 on one play.
   -- CB Drayton Florence was targeted often and was flagged for three pass interference penalties against the Giants.

Patriots Insider Top Stories