After opening up a 14-0 first-quarter lead on the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 of the 2011 regular season, the Buffalo Bills cooled off a little bit in the second quarter, picking up only two field goals - one thanks to a Chiefs turnover - while giving up a touchdown. Kansas City outscored the Bills 7-6 in the quarter, but the Bills took a 20-7 halftime lead into the locker room at Arrowhead Stadium.
In the latest in a series of re-watch posts from last season, we'll get into the nitty gritty of Buffalo's performance in this game. Head on in after the jump for a few broad-spectrum thoughts from the quarter about players, plays and everything else worth discussing.
2011 BUFFALO BILLS RE-WATCH: AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Second quarter: Chiefs 7, Bills 6 (BUF leads 20-7 at halftime)
- Once safety Eric Berry was lost for the game, Chan Gailey attacked the Chiefs' two safeties, Jon McGraw and Sabby Piscitelli, with ruthless abandon. David Nelson and Scott Chandler repeatedly got open for big gains against the duo, as the Chiefs struggled to match up against Gailey's spread concepts. (Justin Houston was a frequent target, as well.)
- The Bills continue to miss blocks at the second level - Erik Pears and Chandler were second-quarter offenders - preventing good gains from becoming big plays.
- Point of Emphasis: This was an interesting quarter for Ryan Fitzpatrick. First, we got to see a rare seven-step drop on a snap from under center; Fitzpatrick displayed good mechanics and found Chandler - who'd beaten Houston - for a gain of 13 yards and a first down. We also saw more quintessential Fitzpatrick. On a third down deep in Chiefs territory, he read hot against a Chiefs blitz, but threw a horrible pass at Stevie Johnson's feet, forcing a field goal. He then attempted a back-shoulder throw to Donald Jones down the right sideline that, had it been slightly more accurate or traveled with a bit more velocity, would have yielded big yardage; instead, Jones couldn't get his second foot down inbounds. Finally, on another third down, Fitzpatrick ignored two open slot receivers (Nelson and Roscoe Parrish) to try to fit a ball into Jones against single coverage (Brandon Flowers) with a safety high (McGraw); the ball was too low and the pass was broken up. A safer throw yields a first down and a sustained drive there, but that's Fitzpatrick: if he sees a matchup he likes, he's going to go for it, regardless of what else is available.
Brief Player Spotlight: OG Kraig Urbik. This is a theme we expect to continue throughout the re-watch: Urbik is a better pass protector than run blocker. (In fact, that may be true of all of Buffalo's linemen.) Urbik is very capable in the phone booth, anchors well when he gets his hat on a hat, and slides and mirrors well in protection. The problem is when Urbik is asked to get to the second level on designed runs and screen passes; Urbik is not quite as mobile as the rest of Buffalo's linemen, and struggles to make blocks in space. The result is that he's often left lunging or swiping at blockers; on a screen pass to C.J. Spiller, in particular, Urbik could not eliminate Jovan Belcher from the play, limiting a potentially huge play to a meager gain and a first down. Urbik is a good player, and his versatility proved highly useful for the team last season when he played center for a stretch. But the book on this guy has been the truth all along: he is limited athletically, and over the long haul, that may be a sticking point if Gailey sticks with this particular offense.
- On the final play of the half (other than a kneel-down), here's how Fred Jackson converted a first down: he shook Derrick Johnson out of his cleats in the hole, then carried Brandon Flowers on his back for 2.5 yards to sneak beyond the down marker. This dude can ball, ladies and gentlemen. (Not that you didn't already know that.)
- The Chiefs struggled with stunts in this contest. In this quarter, Kyle Williams and Spencer Johnson ran a stunt wherein Johnson blew up a blocker, took another with him, and left Williams to scrape and force Matt Cassel back out of the pocket. Two other stunts yielded similar results.
- There is a clear drop-off at defensive tackle when Williams and Marcell Dareus are taken out of the game. The team rotates Dwan Edwards and Johnson in at the position, and the big noticeable difference is stoutness: the Bills lose a lot of ground in the run game when they go to their second team guys. While we see Dareus blow up a Barry Richardson block to snuff out a run, we see Richardson easily handle Edwards, who can't shed in time to prevent a lengthy run by Dexter McCluster. Johnson shows better than Edwards in the quarter, but neither player is very effective, save for a couple of Johnson flashes.
- Leodis McKelvin is still playing way off the ball, but did make a nice play here, jumping in front of a pass intended for Dwayne Bowe that, had it been remotely accurate, would have yielded an interception and a potentially lengthy return.
- Bryan Scott joins Jairus Byrd as two Bills defenders that have made stand-out open-field tackles in this game - both on one of the game's most elusive runners in Jamaal Charles.
- Cassel hits Charles for a touchdown pass on a throw that, had Aaron Williams jumped it a hair sooner, might have been a pick-six. It's a rookie play from a green corner at that point in time.
In general, as we complete these re-watch posts, we'll have more to say about the offense than the defense. That's true for two reasons: one, it's easier to review offensive performance than defense while watching television footage, and two, Buffalo's offensive system and its personnel remain largely intact from a year ago, while things will be changing dramatically defensively. As such, expect that skew moving forward.
Tomorrow: quarter three. (On a side note: should we pick up the pace, or are we enjoying the one-game-per-week, quarter-by-quarter looks? We've got three months to kill, after all...)