The Bills started off slowly, but they ended up with the win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Before we move on to Miami and the final home game of the season, first is a detailed look at how each player on both offense and defense for the Bills performed in Jacksonville.
Every week, with the help of the All-22 film available through NFL.com's Game Rewind package, WGR will provide the standouts, the duds and everything in between from the game that was.
For each player that appeared in the game on offense or defense, you'll see their name in bold, with a set of numbers after it. Example: Cody Lambert (54, -2, 2.7). The first number (54) represents the snap count of that game, the second (-2) represents the individual players plus-minus of positive plays to negative plays in that game. The third number (2.7) represents the weighted Grade Point Average assigned to that player by the author.
OFFENSE (76 total plays)
Coming off of his worst performance of the season, rookie quarterback EJ Manuel (76, 2, 2.7) had a game that started off quite slowly, but ended with him doing enough for his team to come away with a victory.
As is the case with most teams throughout the NFL, when the quarterback goes so does the offense. In the first quarter, both Manuel and the offense weren't able to get anything started. Despite having two drives start in Jacksonville territory through the opening 15 minutes, the Bills could only come away with three points.
The rookie faced some pressure early on and it forced his accuracy to dip. On a 3rd-and-9 chance, he had enough time to unload a pass to T.J. Graham, but the attempt was well short. The same went on another third down attempt to Graham later on in the quarter, and of course on the interception caused by Manuel sailing his pass into the hands of linebacker Geno Hayes.
There were a couple of things to like about the first quarter, however. Manuel gave Robert Woods a chance to make a play in the end zone, and put it in only a location that his rookie wideout could go and get the ball. Later on, he escaped pressure and scrambled for a first down.
On that scramble play, though, that's a time where the Bills probably wished he would have kept his eyes down the field. It wasn't an open receiver, but yet tons and tons of running room. There's a good chance Manuel remembered what happened against Cleveland and opted to run out of bounds. Had he looked downfield, he would have seen Woods sealing off the cornerback and at least 20 yards of running room.
In the second quarter, Manuel really woke up as a passer. On the team's first touchdown drive, the rookie hit a 20-yard corner route to Woods, then hit tight end Chris Gragg a little bit outside the right hash for 28 yards and finalized it by connecting with Woods once more for a seven-yard touchdown. Manuel continued to pick on Ball, hitting Woods once again on a corner route for 17 yards on the team's second touchdown drive.
After the half, Manuel didn't have to do too much and allowed the running game to take over a bit. The third quarter was an uninspired effort just like the first, resulting in a couple of losses in the backfield for the rookie quarterback, and then getting stripped of the ball from behind him and turning it over. It seemed as though there was an odd-quarter curse on Manuel and the offense down in Jacksonville.
Once they got to the fourth quarter, the light went on yet again. Manuel made a well-placed throw to his favorite target of the day, Woods, on a 20-yard gain over the middle of the field. That drive, which ended up being the game-winning one, ended with a play action pass to a wide open Frank Summers in the end zone.
It was a definite step forward for Manuel in playing well enough to win on the road and now the Bills must work from that point with their young player. There were still times of panicking in the pocket and inaccuracy but at a far lower rate than what we have seen in past weeks. Finding that level of consistency from their quarterback against teams that don't have inferior talent will be the true test through time.
Almost surprisingly, Fred Jackson (52, 3, 3.0) got the large percentage of time on the field as the team's tailback. Although it was a slow start for him and everyone else on offense, he picked it up after his only gaffe of the day. He missed a blitz pickup in pass protection that led to a third-down sack in the second quarter. After that, though, Jackson made plays that are vintage of what we've come to know from the runner. A pair of cutback runs resulted in 11 and 19 yards respectively in the second quarter, bouncing off multiple defenders along the way. C.J. Spiller (22, -1, 2.7) had his touches limited and saw his snap count diminish. It wasn't due to injury, Spiller was just ineffective early on and tried to force a couple runs outside. He atoned for his earlier errors with an 18-yard run in the second quarter and a 14-yard gain in the third quarter. On the first of those plays, however, Spiller was flagged for a personal foul for grasping the facemask of Jason Babin. It's just been one of those seasons for Spiller. Normally a fullback, Frank Summers (29, 2, 3.0) actually got some time as a tailback in spots. He had a pair of key receptions in the contest, both of which coming in the fourth quarter. He caught a pass in the flat and turned it up field for an 11-yard gain. That was followed up by the game-winning touchdown reception. Evan Rodriguez (8, 1, 2.7) saw time on the field mostly in a blocking role. He helped spring Spiller's 18-yard run that was called back because of the facemask penalty.
The rookies finally found their chemistry again, with Robert Woods (66, 5, 3.3) having his best game in weeks. His five reception, 82 yard and one touchdown performance made him the top target of the day for Manuel. The rookie quarterback trusted Woods all day long with a 50-50 ball in the end zone early on, then hit him with a pair of high-yardage corner routes. The duo picked on cornerback Alan Ball for a portion of the game. Once again, both T.J. Graham (24, 1, 2.7) and Marquise Goodwin (15, 1, 2.7) were essentially non-factors, combining for zero receptions. Graham made a solid block to help Fred Jackson gain a first down on a third-down swing pass, while Goodwin was able to draw a pass interference call on the Jaguars to set up the Bills for a field goal. Out of respect to what Stevie Johnson (64, -2, 2.3) went through on Sunday, he gets a pass for the day.
While he's left a little to be desired in this area during his tenure with the Bills, Scott Chandler (49, 2, 3.0) had a strong performance in run blocking against the Jaguars. He helped clear a cutback lane for Jackson in the second quarter that led to a 19-yard gain. Then again in the fourth quarter, it was his combo block to help Jackson squirm down to the one-yard line on a five-yard gain. Add in a 27-yard reception, and Chandler had a very nice outing. Lee Smith (45, 1, 2.7) was mostly used for blocking purposes, and the Bills even put him in the backfield to protect EJ Manuel a few times. He helped open up solid gains on a pair of plays, having key blocks on an 8-yard Fred Jackson run in the second quarter, then again in the second level for C.J. Spiller in the third quarter on a 14-yard gain. The playing time of Chris Gragg (5, 1, 2.7) was minimal, but he had a huge 28-yard reception on the first touchdown drive of the game for Buffalo.
It couldn't get much worse for the offensive line against Tampa Bay, but the game against Jacksonville was a massive improvement for four out of five starters. Right guard Kraig Urbik (76, 4, 3.3) was the most impressive of the bunch, playing so well that he made head coach Doug Marrone nix his plans to use the young J.J. 'Unga in some series. Whether it was in pass protection, straight run blocking or when he was the pulling guard, Urbik was fantastic for the Bills. Left tackle Cordy Glenn (76, 2, 3.0) was solid all game long, only having a mental lapse on the strip-sack of EJ Manuel when no one even looked at safety Winston Guy. Center Eric Wood (76, 1, 2.7) helped key EJ Manuel's quarterback draw for a touchdown with a big block at the line of scrimmage to uphold a running lane and also took out a defender on C.J. Spiller's 12-yard run in the third quarter. Left guard Doug Legursky (76, -2, 2.3) was once again a negative player, but didn't cost the team nearly as much as he has for the majority of his starts this season. It was a day to forget for right tackle Erik Pears (76, -5, 1.7), who struggled all game long in pass protection, run blocking and even from keeping his jersey number from being called out by the officials for penalties. Pears allowed a sack and a number of run plays to end before they even got started. Thomas Welch (1, 0, 2.3) got in on one goal line situation, giving him a total of eight snaps on the season.
DEFENSE (75 total plays)
It was a tale of two halves for the normally impressive Kyle Williams (62, 0, 2.7). He was unstoppable in the first quarter, chipping in for a sack, an almost sack, and a pair of very minimal gains in the rushing category for Jordan Todman. Once the second half hit, Williams was much less efficient. He got turned the wrong way on a seven-yard run, drifted too far over on the 33-yard run and then missed a tackle all in the third quarter. He even had an offsides penalty on a 3rd-and-3 that gifted the Jaguars a first down. Marcell Dareus (44, 3, 3.0) had his day ended short by an ankle injury, but was solid when he was on the field. He collected a sack and brought down Todman for small yardage a pair of times. Alan Branch (44, 1, 2.7) helped set up a stuff at the line of scrimmage of Todman in the first quarter, then in the fourth quarter shook off a cut block attempt and collapsed on the runner for only a two-yard gain. He was only taken advantage of once in the third quarter, being pushed all the way to one side which allowed Todman to cutback for a seven-yard gain. Corbin Bryant (36, -2, 2.0) struggled and got turned around most notably on the 33-yard run that went over his gap. Stefan Charles (14, 2, 2.7) continued to be strong in his spot duty, imposing his will to force an early first quarter Chad Henne throw and then making Todman run back inside for just a three-yard gain in the same quarter.
Although he didn't have a huge statistical game, Mario Williams (65, 4, 3.3) had a very strong outing for the Bills coming off the edge. He hurried a throw in the first quarter, but against the pass it was him batting a throw down at the line of scrimmage in the third quarter that was an equally as impressive play. Against the run, Williams single-handedly prevented Todman from busting upfield for a big gain. It happened once in the first quarter with the runner going wide, and Williams ran horizontally to keep forcing him wider and wider. That play went for zero yards. Later in the game, Williams collapsed from the edge and dragged down Todman for a one-yard loss with only one arm. As far as pass rushing goes, Jerry Hughes (34, 2, 3.0) was the most effective player on the Bills roster on Sunday. He collected a sack after beating right tackle Austin Pasztor with an outside-in move, and then forced Henne to throw a pass short which resulted in Nickell Robey's strip and recovery. Ty Powell (3, 0, 2.3) failed to make an impression in the limited amount of snaps he was on the field for.
Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso (75, 3, 3.0) was a little off and on until the game got to the fourth quarter. For a time in the middle quarters, Alonso was being a little hesitant in the run game which has never been a problem of his. In fact, he's been over-aggressive at times and it has cost him. In the fourth quarter though, Alonso found his usual form by sniffing out a screen play, and then stopping Todman for a one-yard gain on two separate plays when the Jaguars were trying to tie up the contest. Once again, the struggling Arthur Moats (1, 0, 2.3) stood on the sideline for all but one snap, coming on for the Jaguars goal line attempt late in the game.
Strongside linebacker Manny Lawson (50, 0, 2.3) resumed his normal role as a stout run defender by containing the edge, but had some lapses when he wasn't in that role. Tight end Marcedes Lewis caught a 10-yard pass on a 3rd-and-2 chance in the first quarter over Lawson, and the linebacker was again taken out of a play that resulted in a Lewis catch in the fourth quarter. Only that time, the play ended in a touchdown. Lawson wasn't fooled on the Jaguars' third quarter throwback lateral attempt, bringing down Henne for a sack after he corralled the pass from Denard Robinson. Only getting playing time early on in the contest, weakside linebacker Nigel Bradham (14, 0, 2.3) was solid but unspectacular. He made a nice sideline-to-sideline stop of Todman for no yards, but then later failed to read the runner on a wide attempt that resulted in a seven-yard gain.
Second-year cornerback Stephon Gilmore (75, -3, 2.0) had his best performance of the season against Tampa Bay, but couldn't follow it up with a strong day against Jacksonville. Although he had the late interception, that was one of his only positive plays on the afternoon. He was beat multiple times in short-yardage situations that resulted in first downs, and even got flagged for a pass interference call in the fourth quarter that negated a potential adverse situation for Jacksonville. His counterpart, Leodis McKelvin (74, 2, 3.0), keeps chugging right along though. In what is definitively his most impressive season of his career defensively, McKelvin was strong in both coverage and run support. He foiled a fourth quarter back shoulder throw from Henne to Mike Brown in the end zone. He got flagged for a pass interference in the third quarter and also was beat on a slant pattern by Brown, but McKelvin regained the upper hand in the latter of the situations by stripping the ball away from the wideout. Even though he was beat for a couple of high-yardage plays, it's hard not to be impressed by the way Nickell Robey (56, 3, 3.0) played in Jacksonville. He brought down Todman for a three-yard loss in the first quarter, forced a fumble and recovered it in the second quarter and then he sacked Henne in the fourth quarter as the Jaguars were attempting to tie the game once again. Outside of a high impact collision along the Bills sideline, Ron Brooks (2, 0, 2.3) was mostly unnoticeable on defense.
The potential is finally being realized for safety Aaron Williams (55, 0, 3.0). Beaten soundly by biting on a fake swing pass that ended up being thrown to tight end Marcedes Lewis for a 25-yard gain, on the very next play the former second-round pick got his revenge. Henne spotted Lewis breaking towards the sideline, but the tight end tipped his route with sloppy footwork to Williams and the safety jumped the route for the interception. Later on in the game he ran down Denard Robinson, who was poised to score a touchdown, and stripped him clean of the football at the one-yard line which also resulted in a turnover. Williams is turning into a high impact player for the Bills. Jairus Byrd (74, -2, 2.3) did not have a particularly strong day, losing Ace Sanders on a short throw that resulted in a Jacksonville touchdown inside the red zone. In the third quarter, Byrd misplayed Todman's 33-yard run by going into no man's land. He was both too far back and too far up, and Todman caught him flat-footed enough to run right past him. Da'Norris Searcy (37, 0, 2.3) exhibited good awareness to not let a play that gashed the Bills in the first quarter do it again to them in the fourth. The Jaguars attempted the fake swing pass play that Lewis caught for 25 yards, and instead this time Searcy broke up the attempt for an incompletion. Searcy didn't exhibit the same kind of prowess in coverage on two other fourth quarter plays, however. The safety lost Todman on a 3rd-and-12 play, missed his tackle and the running back went for a 30-yard reception. Later on that drive Searcy tried to undercut a route, missed the ball and it went for a 16-yard reception to Clay Harbor that set up the Jaguars on the one-yard line. If it wasn't for Jim Leonhard (10, 2, 3.3) bailing out Searcy on the next play, this game could have had a different result. Leonhard avoided a block from a fullback and dropped Todman for a four-yard loss on a pitch to the left side. He followed that up with a key pass breakup on Jacksonville's final offensive series.
Year to date grades, ranked by aggregate GPA (Last week's overall rank)
- DL Kyle Williams - 3.20 (1)
- DL Marcell Dareus - 3.11 (2)
- ILB Kiko Alonso - 3.02 (3)
- DE Mario Williams - 2.92 (7)
- HB Fred Jackson - 2.92 (5)
- RLB Jerry Hughes - 2.91 (6)
- SLB Manny Lawson - 2.88 (4)
- WR Marquise Goodwin - 2.83 (9)
- S Jairus Byrd - 2.76 (8)
- DL Alan Branch - 2.75 (10)
- CB Nickell Robey - 2.75 (12)
- LT Cordy Glenn - 2.74 (11)
- CB Leodis McKelvin - 2.70 (14)
- WR Stevie Johnson - 2.67 (13)
- C Eric Wood - 2.64 (15)
- WR Robert Woods - 2.64 (18)
- HB C.J. Spiller - 2.63 (16)
- S Aaron Williams - 2.61 (17)
- DL Alex Carrington - 2.56 (19)
- TE Scott Chandler - 2.52 (22)
- RG Kraig Urbik - 2.49 (25)
- WLB Nigel Bradham - 2.49 (21)
- DL Corbin Bryant - 2.47 (20)
- WR Chris Hogan - 2.44 (24)
- TE Lee Smith - 2.44 (28)
- FB Frank Summers - 2.43 (31)
- S Da'Norris Searcy - 2.42 (26)
- WR T.J. Graham - 2.42 (27)
- CB Stephon Gilmore - 2.40 (23)
- S Jim Leonhard - 2.35 (32)
- HB Tashard Choice - 2.34 (30)
- RT Erik Pears - 2.33 (29)
- ILB Arthur Moats - 2.26 (33)
- QB EJ Manuel - 2.23 (34)
- QB Thad Lewis - 1.90 (35)
- LG Doug Legursky - 1.89 (36)
- CB Justin Rogers - 1.74 (37)
- QB Jeff Tuel - 1.64 (38)
- LG Colin Brown - 1.30 (39)
**Those with (NR) beside their names just eclipsed the minimum plays on the season
Week 1 - New England 23, Buffalo 21
Week 2 - Buffalo 24, Carolina 23
Week 3 - New York Jets 27, Buffalo 20
Week 4 - Buffalo 23, Baltimore 20
Week 5 - Cleveland 37, Buffalo 24
Week 6 - Cincinnati 27, Buffalo 24
Week 7 - Buffalo 23 Miami 21
Week 8 - New Orleans 35, Buffalo 17
Week 9 - Kansas City 23, Buffalo 13
Week 10 - Pittsburgh 23, Buffalo 10
Week 11 - Buffalo 37, New York Jets 14
Week 12 - BYE
Week 13 - Atlanta 34, Buffalo 31
Week 14 - Tampa Bay 27, Buffalo 6