Bills vs. Saints: Live Game Grades and Analysis for Buffalo

Joshua Cornwall@jcstatsContributor IOctober 27, 2013

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 20: Thad Lewis #9 of the Buffalo Bills hands off to Fred Jackson #22 during a game  against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on October 20, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Buffalo Bills visited the New Orleans Saints in a Week 8 showdown.


Final Score:

Bills - 17

Saints - 35

Buffalo Bills Grades
Positional UnitFirst HalfGame
Pass OffenseBC+
Run OffenseA-B-
Pass DefenseC+B-
Run DefenseB+A-
Special TeamsC+C+
Buffalo Bills Week 8


First-Half Analysis 


Pass Offense – After a rough start with two early fumbles, the pass protection improved drastically and so did Thad Lewis. The former Duke quarterback displayed pinpoint accuracy on the touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson, who made an incredible play on the ball over two Saints defenders.

Run Offense – Fred Jackson and Tashard Choice have filled in nicely for the inactives against a porous Saints defense. The Saints came into the game giving up 5.1 yards per carry and the Bills are just a shade under that at 4.7 in the first half. Buffalo might have benefited from continuing to run the ball on their final possession.

Pass Defense – They have only forced Drew Brees into a handful of incompletions, but the way this unit has been playing, it feels like more. The two sacks have been timely and the Bills defense as a whole forced the Saints into three three-and-outs. The Kenny Stills touchdown was a case of blown coverage, but it quickly changed the momentum out of the Bills' favor.

Run Defense – The Saints looked like they would try running the ball against the Bills early, but the defensive line held the Saints to a paltry 3.3 average. New Orleans did not run the ball once over their final two drives, both of which ended in touchdowns for Brees.

Special Teams – Dan Carpenter’s field-goal streak ended at 15 in the first quarter, but he redeemed himself in the second quarter to give the Bills their first lead of the game. Brian Moorman’s punts have been perfect thus far, as Darren Sproles has been relegated to calling for the fair catch both times.

Coaching – I thought the Bills came out with a good game plan to slow down the Saints' attack, but it became too much for the Bills to handle late in the first half. The offense is going to have to do a little more to take some of the pressure off the defense. Time to see some halftime adjustments.

Stevie Johnson's gutty performance wasn't enough for the Bills in the Superdome.
Stevie Johnson's gutty performance wasn't enough for the Bills in the Superdome./Getty Images


Second-Half Analysis


Pass Offense – The turnovers were Lewis’ undoing in the second half, as his mistakes consistently put Buffalo's defense in bad positions. Accuracy was a major issue for the young quarterback, but he made a few plays to keep the team in striking distance in the fourth quarter. Pass protection improved as the game went on and Stevie Johnson gutted out a groin injury for his best game of the season from a receptions standpoint.

Run Offense – Buffalo got down 18 points early in the second half and all but abandoned the run game. Fred Jackson had to fight for yardage in the second half and finished with a meager 45 yards on 15 carries. There was not a lot of creativity in the run game, and Rob Ryan caught on pretty quickly.

Pass Defense – The Bills were facing an uphill battle against Brees coming into the game and they played him very well at times. Big plays by the Saints quarterback trumped whatever the Bills could throw at him.

Run Defense – It was a good effort when the Saints actually ran, which wasn’t often. The Bills held New Orleans to 77 yards on 26 carries, which was less than their season average coming into the game.

Special Teams – Kick coverage was much better against the Saints, but that was the only unit given the chance to perform in the second half. Brian Moorman only had two second-half punts due to turnovers and Dan Carpenter only attempted an extra point in the fourth quarter. Marcus Easley picked up three more tackles on kickoffs to add to his Pro Bowl resume.

Coaching – The two challenges were going to be too hard to overturn, even if Doug Marrone had legitimate reasons for throwing the red flag. Losing two timeouts in the fourth quarter is enough reason to give the coaching staff a failing grade, but the game plan for the Saints was very good. It looked like the Bills were prepared to play, despite the big plays given up to Brees and company.


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