It wasn't the prettiest game to re-watch, but the Buffalo Bills' victory over the Oakland Raiders wasn't as ugly as it appeared watching it live at Ralph Wilson Stadium, either. Here's what we noticed on a second run-through of the game tape offensively.
I seem to do these breakdowns a bit differently each week, and today is no different. Rather than hit on general topics with the offense as I've done in the past, I'll discuss some observations about several players. On to what caught my eye...
Trent Edwards: Many of you have made this comment, but it's important to re-iterate - Edwards has struggled with accuracy and rhythm early in Buffalo's two home games this year, and Oakland was no different. He missed a wide open Roscoe Parrish on an early third down with a wide throw, and generally looked out of sync with his well-covered receivers. He did, however, show excellent pocket awareness in the face of a fierce Raiders pass rush, as evidence by his scrambles and his two "scramble throws" to Darian Barnes and Marshawn Lynch. He played well, and his fourth quarter play speaks for itself.
Marshawn Lynch: Combined, Lynch and Fred Jackson carried the ball 28 times on Sunday. The two runners were met by Oakland defenders at or behind the line of scrimmage 15 times. More on that here. The fact that Buffalo averaged 3.8 yards per carry is a testament to the abilities of our two backs. As many of you correctly alluded to yesterday, Lynch had a monster game. 27 touches, 114 yards and two scores were big enough, but Lynch kept Buffalo's 96-yard drive alive with third down conversions three times. The Bills don't win without his production, and his four tough runs to set up the Rian Lindell game-winner were large as well.
Jason Peters: Buffalo's starting left tackle took some heat after this performance. It seemed justified, as Peters was directly responsible for two sacks, a lost fumble and a handful of big hits on Edwards. I watched the film, and particularly in the early parts of the third quarter, Peters' footwork seemed tentative. Then I received word that Peters played the second half on a "bad ankle sprain" - he flat-out refused to leave the game, instead choosing to tape up his ankle at the half (this is why Kirk Chambers made a brief appearance at the end of the first half; Peters was never benched). Peters was dominant in the fourth quarter, and Dick Jauron alluded to that fact in a press conference today. Please think twice before calling out our left tackle - considering the facts, he performed admirably.
Josh Reed: Perhaps the most important adjustment the Bills made as they prepared for their fourth-quarter surge was to line Reed up in the slot. Buffalo's receivers were having trouble separating from Oakland's two excellent cornerbacks, so in the second half, the Bills began splitting tight ends, running backs and James Hardy out wide to free up Reed and Roscoe Parrish on the inside (and thus on Raiders linebackers and safeties). The results were excellent - Reed caught 5 of his 6 passes (for 66 of 72 yards) in the fourth quarter, and all of those receptions went for first downs. Once this happened, coupled with a more aggressive offensive approach, the offense started to roll.
Langston Walker: Playing right tackle full-time for the first time this season, Walker struggled with Raiders speed rusher Derrick Burgess. Oakland's best defensive lineman repeatedly came fast, got under Walker's pad level and drove the 366-pound tackle backwards towards Edwards. Walker held his own on those plays, but the Bills play some talented defensive ends (and 3-4 speed rushers) in their remaining plate of games, so it's something to keep an eye on.
Darian Barnes: You had to laugh at Barnes' big plays in the first half - he was quite literally the entirety of Buffalo's passing attack for a period. When Barnes left with his foot injury, Derek Schouman filled in as the lead blocker, and let's just say the drop-off was minimal.
Defense and special teams to come later on today. Stay tuned, Rumblers.