The Bills dropped their fifth game in a row after losing to the Tennessee Titans 30-10. With their seventh overall loss, the Bills are out of the playoff hunt this year. Offensively the Bills struggled with ball control while the Bills defense struggled to contain Chris Johnson and Matt Hasselbeck's passing game. A note of order, I have finals this and next week so my Third Quarter Report will be a bit delayed. Sadly Bills fans, we are at that juncture where as much as we would like to see the Bills eek out another win or two, we also want a strong drafting slot as well. I hope we can have both! In the meanwhile here is the breakdown of the game.
Run Offense: B+
C.J. Spiller actually showed first round material today finishing with 14 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown. The 35 yard TD run almost didn't happen when the ball got popped out into the endzone with five yards to go, but Spiller somehow managed to pounce on the ball before going out of bounds. Choice meanwhile had a better game (than last week) with 5 carries for 20 yards. Fitz lost the ball after getting flushed out of the pocket on a major 4th and 3 in the first.
Pass Offense: B
Ryan Fitzpatrick may not be the most accurate guy in the world, but continued to put up fair numbers throughout the game. Fitz finished completing 64% of his passes for 289 yards and a TD, but could not put together a game winning drive with just over a minute remaining. Brad Smith had another strong outing as the #2 WR with 7 catches for 72 yards while Stevie had 5 catches for 52 yards and a TD. A point of interest is that this is the first game in which all three tight ends were active and all contributed; Chandler was 3 for 48 with a fumble lost, Smith was 3 for 11 and Caussin was 2 for 16.
Blocking Offense: B-
Only one sack was given up, but the line still seems to be a bit shaky at times. Still the front five did a nice job opening lanes for Spiller early on. I miss you and your analysis Ron!
Run Defense: F
You know its bad when a running-back already has 100 yards, 2 TDs and his average starts with 1-.- in the first half. While the Bills did a better job containing Johnson in the second half, Johnson still finished with 23 carries for 153 yards (188 total by Titans RBs). Both Barnett and Shepp had missed tackles on some major plays throughout the game. Kellen Heard is not cutting it at NT for me.
Pass Defense: A-
In my happiness that the Bills could actually breakup passes last week I went a letter grade high. This week's grade is much more warranted. Hasselbeck is likely a pro-bowl contender with Fitz for the third AFC QB slot, but the Bills secondary did a good job containing him. Aaron Williams again had a great pass broken up in the end zone before getting injured (how severely, I do not know). Leodis McKelvin stepped in and had a strong performance with two passes deflected. Rogers and Florence had good showings as well.
Pass Rush Defense: F
Again almost non-existent. Nick Barnett had the lone sack on Hasselbeck but otherwise, the Bills couldn't generate consistent pressure.
Special Teams: C
No botched kicks this time, but nothing special either. Rayner connected from 26 yards out on his sole field goal attempt. Moorman had a fair day punting with 4 punts averaging 48.5 yards, but punt coverage was abysmal (24 yards average return).
Chan Gailey secretly wants the Bills to lose and draft higher... right? Gailey used a brilliant challenge to overturn a fumble/touchback in turn for a Spiller touchdown. The next drive, facing a fourth and three deep in enemy territory Gailey opted to go for it and failed. Without knowing the wind conditions, I can't say not attempting a field goal was the right option there (Rainer has hit from 56 yards already), but Gailey's beloved shot gun is shooting himself in the foot. Ball control issues will be discussed at meetings. Some good play calls late in the game and a better job containing the Titan offense, but after the Bills needed two scores to win.
Time to Unite:
Ryan Fitzpatrick may not be Brady or Manning-esque pro-bowl material but then again these players are very rare. For all that it's worth, Fitz has posted strong numbers throughout the year despite an injury ridden offensive line, receiver corps and losing Fred Jackson. These numbers include completing 64% of his passes for 2,837 yards and 20 TDs (14 Ints too) for a rating of 85.8 which is third best among active AFC quarterbacks that have played the entire year so far. Despite his shortcomings and those resulting from tipped passes and dropped balls, I am asking Bills fans to put their frustrations aside and vote for Ryan Fitzpatrick in your Pro-Bowl polls as well as other Bills players who have put together a strong effort this year. Wish our IR guys a heartfelt get well soon too!