In their 2011 regular season opener, the Buffalo Bills opened up a quick 14-0 lead on the Kansas City Chiefs, then took a 20-7 lead into the halftime break. By the time the third quarter ended, the Bills had extended their lead by another two touchdowns and were well on their way to a 1-0 start.
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
Third quarter: Bills 14, Chiefs 0 (BUF leads 34-7 going into the fourth quarter)
- Buffalo's abuse of Kansas City's reserve safeties continued in this quarter. David Nelson beat Sabby Piscitelli for a first down on a nicely-designed slip screen in which he chipped a pass rusher; Andy Levitre absolutely pancaked Jon McGraw on a nice Fred Jackson run; Scott Chandler gets yards of separation for an easy first down working against Kendrick Lewis; and Lewis compounded the problem by covering no one (looking to pick up a non-existing crossing route), leaving Chandler completely and utterly uncovered on a touchdown. It's tough to imagine the Bills beating the Chiefs with this type of ease if Eric Berry hadn't gotten injured.
- It wasn't all roses for Chandler, who was flattened by Tamba Hali on a Jackson run to the left side; Hali trucked the tight end and tripped Jackson up for a three-yard loss. Hali also got the best of Erik Pears, who completely whiffed on the elite pass rusher, leading to a Ryan Fitzpatrick sack against a three-man rush. This was not a great moment for Buffalo's highly-regarded line; Hali, by the way, had a nice quarter.
- Prior to Chandler's touchdown, the Bills turn a third-and-goal from the one-yard line into the same down and distance from the 11-yard line thanks to successive false start and delay of game penalties. This had the look of the start of a prototypical Buffalo Bills meltdown, but the busted coverage by the Chiefs led to the Chandler score, and the floodgates were open.
- Continuing a trend we saw in the 2010 season, Levitre pulls on a designed play-action pass, which completely freezes the Chiefs' linebackers. Fitzpatrick hits a wide-open Stevie Johnson for a first down. This was a wrinkle that Chan Gailey first introduced against Baltimore in 2010, and it's a staple of his base offense when the Bills aren't playing from behind. It is usually highly effective.
- In this quarter, we get another instance of Fitzpatrick changing the call at the line to target single coverage on the outside. Here, he overthrows an open Donald Jones in the end zone; Jones can't quite run under the throw, and has to dive and make a back-handed, one-handed stab at the ball.
- It really is fun to watch Johnson run routes. On a 3rd & 11 play, Johnson scoots by Brandon Carr in press coverage, then gets away with a little English (i.e. a hand-slap to the back) to create a four-yard separation and an easy first down.
- Jones scores a touchdown in the waning moments of the quarter to make the score 34-7; he gets open in front of Brandon Flower thanks largely to extra attention paid to Chandler and Gailey's play call, which put C.J. Spiller in motion into the slot next to Jones.
- The Chiefs pick up a quick first down on the first play of the half on a naked bootleg misdirection play. The entire defense takes a full second to react to the fake - Chris Kelsay sticks out here, as he had contain - and the whole unit is left scrambling. Again: misdirection was an issue for two full years under George Edwards.
- Bryan Scott makes another strong open-field tackle on Jamaal Charles, this time on a short pass. Charles had good stats in this game, but if he'd made one great move in space, he'd have had unbelievable numbers. Instead, the Bills held him mostly in check in a blowout win.
- We get one shot of Leodis McKelvin playing press coverage in this quarter. He's matched up against Dwayne Bowe, and Bowe runs right by him, then gets quick and substantial separation by adding in a stutter move. The pass falls incomplete thanks to a fairly terrible Matt Cassel throw; anything in the vicinity is an easy catch and first down, as George Wilson didn't have time to close the window. It wasn't exactly getting torched, but McKelvin was beaten with ease on this play.
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 four, which will include our first brief look at several key reserves, including (but not limited to) Chris Hairston and Kelvin Sheppard.