"Welp, what a difference a week makes, huh?"
That it does, Buffalo Bills fans. That it does.
The Bills needed to come out in the home opener and get a win in the worst way. Not only did they get it, but they completely outclassed their opponents. While maybe not restoring all the 'shiny new toy' thoughts of fans when they were heading in to the Jets game, it still restored some hope that this team has what it takes to stay competitive through 16 games.
Let's get to the game, shall we?
- We start with the man that has become an early candidate for breakout player of the NFL. Through two weeks, Spiller has rushed for 292 yards on just 29 carries. Yes, you read that right: 10.1 yards per carry. The last time a running back had a rushing average over 10 yards through the first two games (with a minimum of 25 carries)? 1963, when Jim Brown had a yards per carry average of 11.3. Simply put, Spiller has been electric. He has become the player that the Bills expected when they drafted him. In the week leading up, I felt that Spiller showed all the signs of being one of the most dynamic running backs in the NFL -- it was only a matter of consistency. Two games in to 2012, and Spiller has done everything he's been asked to do and then more. You have to wonder, if he keeps this up, what happens with Fred Jackson once he gets back? It's a few weeks away and there are still a few games to digest until then, but I'd be lying to you if I wrote that I'm not at least considering the hypothetical situation. Regardless, it should be a fun ride seeing what happens when teams start game-planning for Spiller. The Chiefs came in to the game riding high with their run defense after only allowing Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers to 84 yards on 23 carries. That got blown up pretty quickly -- and all it's all because of the job Spiller and the Bills offensive line have done.
- Don't let the box score fool you. If you go and look at it, you'll see the Bills allowed 150 rushing yards on 24 carries. What you should really be paying attention to is the fact that not even 33-percent of those yards came when the game actually mattered. From the start of the game to Leodis McKelvin's punt return for a touchdown to make the game 35-3, check out these statistics from the run defense: 49 yards on 14 carries, a YPC of 3.5. Want to go even farther? 28 yards on 13 carries for Chiefs running backs, a YPC of 2.2. Whatever it is the Bills are doing on defense this year, they've been fantastic at stopping the run. They all but eliminated Jamaal Charles from ever getting started (6 carries, 3 yards) and on their way to a dominating victory. Another job well done.
- Likely one of the biggest reasons for the much improved run defense in 2012 has been the play of one Kyle Williams. He blew up the line of scrimmage on a few separate occasions against the Chiefs. His overall ability to fire off the line and consistently being the first one off the snap really sets him apart. If he continues this pace, he'll be in the Pro Bowl yet again. It really just goes to show the huge difference between bogged down and injured Kyle Williams (2011's version) with healthy Kyle Williams.
- In the locker room following the game, you would have thought it was all hugs, high fives and hand pounds. For the most part, it was, but a couple of players were not pleased by the actions of an opponent. You may have heard the sound bytes by now, but Eric Wood and Andy Levitre were very angry with Kansas City defender Tamba Hali. You might not think it's a big deal for one player calling out another, but in an era of such watered down, P.R. infused ideologies on how to answer questions, it really stands out. Wood claimed that Hali, on consecutive plays, went after the neck and arms of some of his fellow linemen. If you'll recall, it ended in a skirmish after the Scott Chandler touchdown reception. Talking to Andy Levitre for clarification, he said that he got knocked over around Hali, and the Chiefs' defender must have thought Levitre was trying to take him out based on how he reacted. By Levitre's account, Hali wrapped his arms around the former's helmet to the point where it was pinching, and began to twist his neck. On the next play, Hali allegedly went after the arm of Cordy Glenn. Wood thinks the league is going to take a look at it. If what the Bills linemen say is true, they damn well should. I look forward to watching the All-22 tape to see if that was indeed the case.
- The best defensive end of the game for the Bills? Nope, it wasn't Mario Williams -- it was the other free agent signing. Mark Anderson had a whale of a game in more than just the statistical department. He lined up on both the right and left throughout the game, and even helped give the Bills a unique three-man front look with Anderson standing up. He was another player quick off the snap and helped keep the Chiefs totally at bay on offense.
- A quick little aside here before we continue along with the solid effort from the Bills as a whole. What the heck was that H-back reverse play to Dorin Dickerson? There's no reason to call that play, and while very gifted athletically, he's not speedy enough to pull that play off and get to the edge. A poorly timed play call when the Bills had the ball deep in Chiefs territory. Of course, they ended up scoring a touchdown anyway, but the point remains the same: Chan Gailey tried to get too cute when the Bills didn't need it. It was the one major flaw in the offensive game plan that was otherwise very well-crafted.
- A solid bounce-back game for Stephon Gilmore as the Bills stressed to their young cornerbacks to press the wide receivers and jam them within the first five yards. There were even some occasions down the field when Gilmore might have been getting too handsy (yes, I'm aware that's not a real word) with the receiver past the five yard window. He'll continue to grow for a team desperately in need for their cornerbacks to progress, and quickly.
- After a win that was as thorough as this one, I don't think it's exactly the time or space to kill the quarterback. When thinking of Ryan Fitzpatrick's performance, the expression that came to mind was, 'meh.' He threw the touchdown passes to Stevie Johnson and Scott Chandler, with Chandler being the one where Fitzpatrick didn't benefit from a complete lapse in coverage by Kansas City. There were a few things to pick apart from his game, though. He continued to struggle when throwing to his left, he missed Chandler on a wide-open look early on in the game on a naked bootleg that easily would have gained 40 yards (they later connected on the same play for 43), and there are other examples. If Fitzpatrick is going to be the complimentary player to C.J. Spiller, I think he can handle that role. But if he has to consistently be counted on to win them games, I really question if he can do it. Only time will tell, but with the emergence of Spiller, it may not have to.
- After getting benched from just one performance (albeit a terrible one), Leodis McKelvin answered back in a huge way on special teams. He's excelled in that part of his game for the majority of his career, the New England fumble notwithstanding. Everyone will point to his punt return for a touchdown, which was great in it's own right. But when I think about his special teams prowess on Sunday, I'm reminded of how effective he was as the gunner on punt coverage. He routinely beat both one and two-man looks right in front of him. On the Chiefs' longest punt return, I thought the referees missed a hold on him that kept him from making the tackle. He's at his best on special teams. Unfortunately, that's only a small gain for a career that started with high expectations on the defensive side of the ball.
- I know I'm not going to be the only one to write this, but enough is enough with this whole Wildcat craze, right? The only time it was successful was on it's very first attempt -- a jet sweep to C.J. Spiller. Past that? It was bottled up, and they even botched a handoff that ended up in a 15-yard loss. It just isn't working no matter if Brad Smith or Tashard Choice is running it.
- I just wanted to acknowledge perhaps the best play of one of Buddy Nix's draft picks since he's been in the league. It was a very nice job by former third-round pick Alex Carrington in getting penetration to the backfield and forcing the fumble clean from Matt Cassel's hand. Starving for a play to hang his hat on, Carrington offered that one up to Bills fans. It's a good start, but he's got some time to make up for through the next 14 games. It's a good way to start of the year, however.
MVP: CJ Spiller (Who else?!) -- 15 carries, 123 yards, 3 catches, 47 receiving yards, 2 TDs
LVP: The Wildcat -- Please go away.
Up Next: Sunday, September 23 at the Cleveland Browns (0-2). Kickoff at 1 pm.
The Bills answered back after their Week One debacle to restore some hope and optimism in the minds of their fans. Will we see the good version or the bad version of the Bills in Week Three against the Browns? It's a winnable game with a tough slate of games to follow. If the Bills can capture the next one soundly, playoffs can be placed right back on the table again. Now it's just a matter of the Bills not riding too high with the highs of winning, much like they were able to dish aside the lows of losing. They needed this win. They knew it, the fans knew it -- heck anyone around the league knew it. They went out and got the job done, and now it's on them to keep the consistency going. As everyone well knows, it's a long season. For the Bills and their overall sanity, they just prevented it from feeling even longer with a win over the Chiefs.