After notching just one sack in two consecutive blowout losses, the Buffalo Bills pass rush got right against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. They totaled five sacks and were able to consistently pressure Cardinals quarterbacks, moving them off their spot and forcing several throwaways.
"They really did [get pressure]," said head coach Chan Gailey after the game. "There were five sacks in the game, and I bet we hit him a bunch more and could have had a couple more in the grasp sacks if they would have called it. It was a great effort by that front line. I thought
The biggest force in the rejuvenated pass rush was Mario Williams, who tallied two sacks on the day. He also hit both starting quarterback Kevin Kolb and his replacement, John Skelton, on a few other occasions by using power moves to knock his blocker off balance. It may be an indication his sore wrist has fully healed, but he showed great strength in his bull rushes.
"I think he played extremely well," said Gailey of Williams. "I'll have to watch the tape. I hate to go out on a limb, but it felt like he played really well. He played both the run and the pass. They were trying to chip him a bunch and he was still getting pressure on the quarterback. His presence was duly noted by them during the game. I really know that."
Also tallying two sacks was Nick Barnett, who was repeatedly sent on blitzes by embattled defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt. Jairus Byrd also got pressure when called upon to blitz, as Wannstedt dialed up several schemes to get to the passer. At times, all 11 defenders were in two-point stances in an attempt to confuse Cardinals blockers.
Chris Kelsay started the sack attack with a safety in the first quarter. After Williams collapsed the right side of the offensive line, Marcell Dareus flashed in the face of the quarterback, moving him to his left where Kelsay cleaned up the mess. It was exactly what Buffalo had in mind when they assembled the defensive line in the off-season, save Kelsay's insertion for the injured Mark Anderson.
What remains to be seen is if the Bills can continue this success against nominal offensive lines. The Cardinals' group is the worst in the league, with their tackles giving up more sacks than any other duo. The Tennessee Titans - who the Bills play Sunday - have given up only 11 sacks total all season. The unit also has to work on their rushing lanes, as Kolb exploded for 66 rushing yards on five scrambles before being knocked from the game at the two minute warning.
Even if we saw this coming last week, it's still refreshing to see the defenders handle their business.