The Buffalo Bills 35-17 win at home over the Kansas City Chiefs provided the inverse set of reactions from fans as opposed to last week's thumping at the hands of the New York Jets. Only a week after going down big to the Jets, the Bills were able to jump all over Kansas City early.
C.J. Spiller has been a revelation in the eyes of the national media, but the third year back has quietly put together one of the most impressive spans in recent NFL history dating back to last season. Spiller recorded his fifth 100-yard rushing performance in a row and leads the NFL in rushing average with 6.3 yards per carry over the last 16 games.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was the subject of my ire last week. Despite filling the box score with some okay numbers, he did little to prove that he is the answer at quarterback.
After going back and watching the game film, I was able to diagnose a few plays that reinforce my positive ideas about Spiller and my negative thoughts about Fitzpatrick.
Bills First Drive: 3rd &1 at the BUF 25
Chan Gailey showed that he wanted to limit Fitzpatrick's mistakes early by committing to the run. This has been a huge area of the Bills offense that has been lacking since Gailey's arrival.
Fans have been baffled at the lack of touches for both Fred Jackson and Spiller, when they are two of the best three skill players on the team. Gailey's stubbornness to overuse the inconsistent Fitzpatrick has been one of the reasons the Bills haven't put together a complete season.
Fitzpatrick came out throwing against the Jets, but he handed off the first two snaps of the game to Spiller. Spiller was stuffed on the first play before showing some nifty inside rushing to set up a 3rd and 1.
I loved the play call here by Gailey. The Bills lined up in a run heavy set with bruising fullback Corey McIntyre in front of Spiller and a two tight end set. Blocking tight end Lee Smith started next to right tackle Erik Pears, but was set in motion to block on the left side.
Once Smith was in position, Fitzpatrick set up a play-action pass with Spiller rushing off to the left behind his blockers. Fitzpatrick rolled out to the right and had the curling Scott Chandler wide open 12 yards down the field with outside linebacker Justin Houston trying to catch him.
Fitzpatrick threw the ball directly into the ground four yards in front of Chandler, eliminating a potential big play in the process. Chandler would have likely had a 30 or 40 yard gain before the deep safety Eric Berry could have met up with him.
The first pass of the day induced the boo birds from the Buffalo faithful and led me to debate turning the game off.
Bills Second Drive: 2nd & 10 at the KC 17
Spiller's speed helped on this play, but I know a lot of people that could have run through that hole. Cordy Glenn came into the season as a bit of enigma at left tackle, but we did know he was an excellent run blocker. Glenn and Andy Levitre opened a gaping hole and Spiller waltzed into the end zone for the first of two scores.
Bills Third Drive: 3rd & 3 at the KC 5
The second Spiller touchdown seemed just as easy, although it was sprung by a great block by Glenn once again. Fitzpatrick made a nice call with the quick toss to Spiller so he could utilize his speed on the edge.
Glenn swung out in front of the play to the left and threw the much smaller Javier Arenas to the side, allowing Spiller to score. Glenn's athleticism is awe-inspiring and the Bills will need to find creative ways to get him downfield to block.
Bills Fifth Drive: 2nd & Goal at the KC 10
Following one of the most mind-boggling plays of the day, an end around with Dorin Dickerson for an eight yard loss, Fitzpatrick found his favorite red zone target.
Chandler, who scored two touchdowns in the opener against the Chiefs last year, was left open for an easy score. The tight end ran a simple route, running outside the middle linebacker before cutting in to the open pocket in the zone.
Also noteworthy was the fact that Steve Beuerlein called Buffalo's center Kerry Wood instead of Eric Wood.
Bills Final Offensive Score: 3rd & 12 at the KC 49
Looking to put the game away, the Bills were moving backwards after getting into Kansas City territory.
Stevie Johnson took advantage of a breakdown in coverage by taking a simple seven yard crossing pattern 49 yards for the fourth touchdown of the day.
The Bills lined up in a five WR set. The top two receivers (Johnson and Donald Jones) lined up on the outside with Chandler, Spiller and Brad Smith lining up on the left. The defense cheated a bit to the left with Spiller lining up on the outside because he burned them for two solid catches earlier in the game.
Brandon Flowers started on Johnson with Abram Elam focusing on Jones. Jones was on the inside of Johnson but broke to the outside as Johnson was coming in, taking both defenders with him. This left Johnson with the entire space inside the numbers to deal with and only had to beat Derrick Johnson to get in for the score.
Johnson had had a quiet day leading up to the big play and at times looked uninspired. The Bills dedication to the run might have had something to do with it, as well as his few targets lined up across from a less-than-healthy Flowers.
Johnson will need to play better football like he showed on this play if the Bills want to have continued success in 2012.