|Positional Unit||1st Half Grades||Game Grades|
Buffalo Bills Week 6
Pass Offense: Thad Lewis answered some questions about the team moving forward with him after being on the Bills’ practice squad for five weeks. He threw two huge touchdowns in the fourth quarter to lead a lifeless offense back from the dead. The Bills’ schedule is brutal over the next few weeks, but Lewis should at least be fun to watch.
Run Offense: The second half was much better than the first. Spiller looked good, but his ankle is clearly not at full strength yet. Doug Legursky made a bigger difference in the run game than meets the eye, even with the Bills finishing with 20 yards less than their season average.
Pass Defense: The secondary tightened up in the second half after a brutal first half. McKelvin did a great job on Green for the most part, but the two long plays in the first half put the team in a big hole. Gilmore and Byrd were not on the field too much in their returns, but should be bigger contributors moving forward.
Run Defense: The run defense is another unit that saw improvement in the second half and overtime. The Bengals ran a lot, but the Bills could not stop the inside-outside rushing attack in the first half, as the Bengals put up 17 points. Alonso improved his play in the second half and finished with 22 tackles.
Special Teams: Special teams was great the entire game until they needed to make a play the most. It's hard to tell from the tape because the number is blocked, but Brandon Tate split two coverage guys on the final punt in what should have been a routine play. Tate’s return set up the game-winning 43-yard field goal in overtime.
Coaching: The Bills have been shorthanded all season and they continue to find themselves close in games they were thought to have no chance in. The Bengals outplayed the Bills for three quarters, but the coaching staff put the team in the best position to win at the end. Going for it on fourth down from the Bengals’ 1-yard line might be a point of contention for fans this week though.
Pass Offense: There was obvious concern over how the offense would look with Thaddeus Lewis running the show in place of Manuel. While the run game has been the main focus—as it should be—Lewis has been spot-on with all of his throws. He completed the longest pass of the year for the team on his first throw, and T.J. Graham dropped what would have been another big gain.
Run Offense: What a difference substituting Doug Legursky for Colin Brown has made for the Bills offense this week. Playing against arguably the best defensive line they will see this season, the Bills gashed the Bengals for big gains early until the goal-line stand.
Pass Defense: Jairus Byrd and Stephon Gilmore returning were supposed to make this unit better. The first-half results have been far from pretty. Leodis McKelvin has been tasked with A.J. Green and there was little he could do about the touchdown. Tackling has been bad and reading the offense has been even worse. Jim Leonhard made things a little better with an interception in the final two minutes of the half.
Run Defense: They started out alright, but when BenJarvus Green-Ellis is getting large amounts of yardage against you, it is not going to be a good day. Kiko Alonso has been out of position on more than one occasion and the second-level blocking by the Bengals has killed the Bills.
Special Teams: Marcus Easley needs to be a real consideration for the Pro Bowl. He makes a handful of beautiful tackles on returns every game and had another one on Brandon Tate in the first quarter. Dan Carpenter has been a revelation for the Bills, and his accuracy has been a major reason why Dustin Hopkins was put on the injured reserve. It is good to see Brian Moorman back in a Bills uniform.
Coaching: The defense has been severely outplayed in the first half despite being their healthiest thus far in 2013. Play-calling has been much better on offense, but the decision to go for it on 4th-and-1, instead of taking three points, could come back to haunt the Bills in the end.