I don’t know what role this game will play in the outcome of the 2012 season and no, I did not make reservations for New Orleans(site of the Super Bowl) after the Bills romp over Kansas City.
But I do know the team, the fans and sports talk show hosts needed it… badly!
While the opener was about as bad a game as you could have possibly imagined in your worst nightmares, you couldn’t have scripted the follow up much better.
Don’t get me wrong, the opposition was terrible. Imagine how Chiefs fans feel today knowing their team has been outscored by the Bills 76-24 in the last two meetings.
For the fans who believe the Bills will make the playoffs this season, this is exactly the kind of game they had in mind.
The recipe was one part dominating running game, one part the quarterback just making plays that were there and not killing the team with turnovers and one part an improved defense that got after the quarterback and took the ball away.
Fitzpatrick didn’t have an eye popping day but he didn’t need to. He ended up 10-19 for 178 yards and 2 touchdowns but most importantly he had no turnovers. His best throws of the day were a 10 yard touchdown pass to Scott Chandler and short throws to Chandler and Stevie Johnson where run after catches produced 33 yards for Chandler and a 49 yard TD for Johnson.
The offense was sparked by the legs of C.J. Spiller. During an interview on WGR on Friday, Bills General Manager Buddy Nix remarked “there’s something to be said for running the ball and playing good defense.” Must be the team was listening.
Spiller again showed a combination of explosive speed, shifty moves and an ability to break tackles. In his last 7 regular season games, the former first round pick has amassed 683 rushing yards. He is downright scary when in space.
On his 38 yard TD scamper, he started right, saw nothing, then cut back left and found a big hole to fire through. He became the 4th back in Bills history to top 100 yards rushing in the first two games of the season.
There may be more of that to come. I was both surprised and heartened to hear Chan Gailey say after the game “we’d rather be a physical run team that throws it on surprise or when we have to throw it.” Honestly I thought Gailey was a pass happy play caller who would live and die with Fitzpatrick. This may mean the offense is going in a different direction.
The offense wasn’t the only unit that did a complete 180 from last week. The defense had a pass rush, got consistent pressure, recorded sacks and took the ball away.
Kyle Williams was a beast. On at least three different plays, he took the man attempting to block him and bullied him into a backpedal. Remember the scene in the movie “The Blind Side” when Michael Oher pushes the guy all the way downfield and over a fence? I think Williams could have done that if they let him keep going.
The defensive line dominated the Chiefs. Buffalo got pressure and sacks while only rushing four. Kyle Williams had two sacks, Marcell Dareus had one and Alex Carrington added another while forcing a fumble.
Mario Williams didn’t get a sack but his pressure forced Cassel towards Dareus on that sack and he drew a holding penalty on Chiefs right tackle Eric Winston on another rush. He also recovered the fumble that Carrington forced.
The takeaway right before halftime was important. A Chiefs TD would have made it 21-7 and maybe given them some life. Instead, they came away with nothing on their best drive of the half.
Kudos to Dareus for playing just days after the tragic shooting death of his younger brother and in more trivial matters, for playing as much as he could after suffering a shoulder injury.
Special teams got caught up in that whole reversal of fortunes theme. After giving up a punt return for a touchdown against the Jets, the Bills got an 88 yard return for score from Leodis McKelvin, the 2nd longest in franchise history. I felt good for McKelvin since that came at the end of a week where he lost his nickel job to Justin Rogers(and deservedly so).
As if the day wasn’t good enough already, as the game comes to an end, I get to watch the Pats get a gift from the Arizona Cardinals with a late game fumble that sets them up for what seemed to be a 4th quarter comeback victory. But then I see Stephen Gostkowski miss a 42 yard field goal. Thank you football gods for that one.
I said the Bills had to win this game and next week’s at Cleveland to restore any faith in this team and where the season can go. If they are going to take advantage of a weak schedule, you have to beat teams like the Chiefs and Browns. One down, one to go.