ORCHARD PARK NY - DECEMBER 12: Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns fumbles as he tries to jump over Paul Posluszny #51 of the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 12 2010 in Orchard Park New York. Buffalo won 13-6. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Run Defense. Sure, the team gave up fewer rushing yards than normal. There's more beyond the statistics as to why the Cleveland Browns rushed less on Buffalo than other teams. Cleveland's rushing total is somewhat smaller due to an 11-yard loss by Josh Cribbs. Peyton Hills still ran for 105 yards on 21 carries with a healthy 5.1 yards per carry. After Hills' fumbling problems began, the started passing more and rushing less, which was a mistake. The Buffalo Bills need to try some ways to get players into better positions to beat blockers, such as a 3-4 with Kyle Williams at right defensive end. (Little primer for something I'm putting together on why that move would work.) They needs better linebackers, which is another story itself.
Brian Moorman. Last week I grasped for straws in the "good" section, and threw Moorman in. This week, Moorman is here for a reason. He didn't have a good day for Brian Moorman. Most other punters would love to have days like he had, but we've come to expect punting greatness. Moorman has been clockwork putting balls inside the 10-yard line in the past, and is also the league's best directional punter. That's just not happening right now. He's off, and Bruce DeHaven has somehow got to get him back on track. With Buffalo's offense now able to move the ball effectively, Moorman's ability to flip field position is enhanced. He just needs to perform.
High Round Picks Not Stepping Up. Guys like John McCargo and Aaron Maybin must have been waiting for this point in the season, where they would get significant playing time. They have been invisible. With Dwan Edwards injured and Marcus Stroud ineffective, McCargo could have used this time to showcase his abilities. It hasn't happened, and unless he shows effective play over the next three games, Buddy Nix is going to let him walk. I've been very easy on Maybin, citing how pass rushers don't become impact players overnight. I still think Maybin should get another season to work on his craft with the coaching staff, but he is blowing a huge opportunity to step up an make an impact. The clock is ticking, gentlemen...
Between the Tackle Running. For the first time in as long as I can remember, Buffalo pounded the ball down another team's throat. Even in the Jim Kelly days, Buffalo spread the field and ran a lot of counter trey and draws. Buffalo ran 37 times (discounting runs by Ryan Fitzpatrick and Donald Jones), and most of those runs were of the dives-between-the-tackles variety. I've read and heard many times that a power running game needs a center than can get movement in the middle of the defense. If Buffalo gets this kind of run production while Eric Wood is at center, it may prompt the team to keep him there and flip the athletic Geoff Hangartner to right guard. Also: Chan Gailey's decision to call 37 runs in the rain was a wise choice, and one that ultimately got the the win.
Leodis McKelvin's redemption. Though playing against a poor passing team with a quarterback on the downside of his career, McKelvin's two passes defended and interception was a good bounce back from a horrible game in the Metrodome the week prior. The interception was a lame duck, but an interception is an interception. It was good to see him play well and show some resiliency.
Arthur Moats. Call it a hunch, but Arthur Moats is going to be the Bills' "Jack" outside linebacker next year and for some time to come. He's short, but so is James Harrison. Moats makes plays and is generally all over the field creating some sort of havoc. His strip of Jake Delhomme was a coordination masterpiece, beating an elite left tackle in Joe Thomas, then jumping to strip the ball. He may not have the large-school credentials or the elite measurables (which is similar to Harrison again), but Moats can play.
A win is a win, though there's not much to be excited about at 3-10. Buffalo continues to finish games against the bottom half of the league. A good team has to do that, and also win against the good teams. The real challenge for this team is to win one of their next three games. All three are against good divisional opponents. Miami is solid with Chad Henne fading. The Jets are slumping but have playoff talent and coaching. The Patriots are the best team in the league. A win against one of those teams would not only avoid the divisional goose egg, but also show that Buffalo has taken another baby step forward.
Next up: December 19 in Miami against Buffalo's most hated rival.