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Grading the Bills - Bills v Patriots: Game 3

Once again the Bills came behind from a lacking first half of play to beat rivals New England Patriots 34-31.  The word fandemonium somehow cannot sum up the comeback that has not only propelled the Bills to a 3-0 start, but has also ended a 15 game losing streak to the Pats.  The Bills weren't always pretty on the field, but made plays when they needed them the most.  The big thing that fans and players alike need to come away from this game is that despite all the problems that the team has been having, they can overcome them, compete against top-tier teams and come away with a victory!

 

Run Offense: B+

Fred Jackson showed his value once more averaging over 6 yards a carry despite only running the ball 12 times for 74 yards and a TD.  Despite being an aerial duel between Fitz and Brady, Jackson helped keep the Bills offense going on the ground.  A friend of mine even joked that Jackson must be wearing lard to cause so many missed tackles.  Aside from Jackson though the Bills ran the ball only four other times (not including Fitzpatrick's 4 kneels at the end) for just 11 yards. 

Pass Offense: B+

Another strong second half performance and another win from Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Fitz passed for a season high 369 yards (27-39 passes) with 2 TDs and 2 early picks.  Fitz was not perfect missing a few good opportunities and getting a fortunate defensive interference on would have been his third interception.  The picks hurt early on with one later converted for a Pats TD, but that did not end up deterring Gailey from using his gunslinger.  At the end of the day, four players recorded more than 80 yards receiving including Donald Jones (5 for 101 yards), Steve Johnson (8 for 94 yards and a TD), Fred Jackson (5 for 87 yards), and David Nelson (6 for 84 yards).  TE Scott Chandler had the other Fitz TD.  

Blocking Offense: A

Although Fitz was under more pressure than Brady was at any point of the game, the offensive line once again did not give up any sacks for the second week in a row.  There were a few mental errors resulting in holding or an accidental chop blocking episode, but the line created holes for Jackson to run through and offered Fitz enough time to make plays.

Run Defense: A-

The Bills did really did well against the first few runners the Patriots used in the game limiting Green-Ellis to under 2 yards a carry and Woodhead to 3.5 yards a carry.  Only against third stringer Ridley did the Bills have problems (6.3 yards average), but the Bills did well to force fourth downs and made several huge goal-line stands.  While the Pats did outrun the Bills 108 to 79* (including Fitz's kneels), this is a notable improvement from last year and is about the league average right now.  

Pass Defense: B-

On one hand the pass defense struggled mightily, something not totally unexpected given that the opposing QB was Tom Brady.  Wes Welker caught an insane 16 passes for 217 yards and 2 scores while TE Rob Gronkowski had 7 catches for 109 yards and 2 scores.  The secondary needs to develop people that can keep up with these guys and stick with them next time we meet.  On the other hand, the Bills shut down the other Pat's WRs (Branch and Ochocinco).  The difference maker though was in the secondary recording not one, but four picks (Scott, McKelvin, Wilson and Florence).  Florence returned the last one for the go-ahead touchdown.  The safeties Byrd, Wilson and Scott led the team in tackles.  (387 passing yards is Brady's low for the season.)

Pass Rush Defense: F

One key aspect that the Bills needed to deter Brady was a pass rush that never materialized.  Shawne Merriman only managed to touch Brady once while Brady nullified blitzes.  Somehow the Bills need to get its pass rushers involved.  

Special Teams: A+

The unsung hero is kicker Rian Lindell.  Not only did Lindell close the first half with a 42 yard field goal, but he also booted the game winning FG from 28 yards out.  Moorman (who nearly hurdled Lindell in celebration) was his typical self with a solid 5 punts averaging over 50 yards (2 inside the twenty).  Coverage units looked alright while return-man C.J. Spiller had a quiet day.  

Coaching: B

First off, props need to be given to Chan Gailey to once more rally his team at halftime to make a statement win against Bill Belichick.  Solid play calling in the second half.  However, play calling was questionable early especially when the Bills were down 2 scores going on fourth and fourteen.  On a side note, I would really like to see Gailey run more (particularly in the first half) given that the Bills have one of the best backs in the league to hopefully get the offense rolling more early on.

Other Notes:

Donald Jones recorded his first 100 yard game in his career.  Nickel CB Aaron Williams went down in the second half with an apparent chest injury warranting a stretcher to be taken off the field, but I have no idea to how long he will be out in an already hurting secondary.  The Bills will also need to be more conscious about penalties after making a season high 9.

Go Bills!! 

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of BuffaloRumblings.com.

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