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

Joshua CornwallContributor IDecember 1, 2013

Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller must get back on track after a poor performance in Week 11.
Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller must get back on track after a poor performance in Week 11.Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills literally fumbled away their chances at a playoff run, giving the ball to the Falcons twice in a two-minute span to lose the game on a Matt Bryant field goal in overtime. 

Final Score:

Falcons: 34

Bills: 31 


Buffalo Bills Game Grades
Positional UnitFirst-Half GradesGame Grades
Pass OffenseC+C
Run OffenseAA
Pass DefenseCC+
Run DefenseDD+
Special TeamsCC
Buffalo Bills Week 13

Game Analysis for the Buffalo Bills

Pass Offense: Manuel did not look as comfortable in the offense as he did two weeks ago, which is a bit puzzling considering the team had two weeks to prepare for a lesser defense. His touch on long passes was not good, although he did not throw farther than 10 yards downfield until the second half.

The amount of failed drives was also a huge problem in the second half. There are simply too many options in the pass offense to go three-and-out several times in a half against a bad defense. And then the last two plays happened. Fumbles by your team leaders are unacceptable and embarrassing.

Run Offense: C.J. Spiller finally found holes he had been missing so far in a forgettable 2013 season. The bye week looked like a godsend for Spiller, as his speed and quick cutting was the best it has been all year.

Pass Defense: The pass defense played much better in the second half after allowing Matt Ryan to find gaps in the first. Two very questionable calls on the Falcons’ game-tying drive were seemingly good defensive plays, but sometimes the calls just don't go your way.

Run Defense: It was a terrible first half and an average second half. The middle of the front seven looked to be out of place one too many times and Steven Jackson easily had his best game in a Falcons uniform. Atlanta came in averaging only 74 yards a game, but they racked up much more than that today, with most of their yardage coming in the first half.

Special Teams: The coverage unit was much better after the trickery displayed by the Falcons on the opening kickoff. Dan Carpenter should have been the game-winning kicker, but Stevie Johnson fumbled an easy play away. An interesting subplot in this painful loss was the frustration Marquise Goodwin directed toward blocker Frank Summers on several returns. Goodwin looked like he wanted to take more kickoffs out of the end zone, but Summers put the stop sign up several times.

Coaching: Buffalo should have won the game and did not. I am not sure what that says about the coaching staff, but it can’t be a good.


Embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford enjoyed a Buffalo heartbreaker wearing a Fred Jackson jersey.
Embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford enjoyed a Buffalo heartbreaker wearing a Fred Jackson jersey.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images



First-Half Analysis for the Buffalo Bills

Pass Offense: EJ Manuel was efficient, but locked onto Stevie Johnson early on in the game. Johnson should be able to beat Robert McClain almost every play, but Manuel looked a lot more loose when he was chucking it against the Jets. Buffalo would be wise to open up the pass offense a bit more in the second half.

Run Offense: The obvious game plan for the offense was to run the ball down the Falcons’ throats. The Bills established their stranglehold in the trenches on their first drive, as C.J. Spiller got loose for a 77-yard scamper before he was tackled inside the Falcons’ 5-yard line. Spiller and Fred Jackson have been decisive on every play called for them out of the backfield, and it has resulted in very few negative plays.

Pass Defense: Leodis McKelvin has had a few nice pass break-ups, but Stephon Gilmore has been a liability when lined up against bigger receivers like Roddy White and Levine Toilolo. Matt Ryan has not missed much when he has had time to throw the ball, but Buffalo has applied plenty of pressure on obvious passing plays. Jerry Hughes continued his inspired play with two sacks and he now has eight on the season, which doubles his highest total in Indianapolis.

Run Defense: Aside from a nice stop in the backfield by Marcell Dareus, the run defense has been pretty poor. Steven Jackson has looked like an old man this season, but he went virtually untouched on a 27-yard touchdown run to cut the Bills’ lead to seven points at the end of the first quarter. They looked even more out of place on a simple pitch to Antone Smith, which resulted in a 38-yard touchdown run.

Special Teams: The coverage squad was putrid in the first half, allowing two long returns. The Bills had a few nice returns as well, but could not break out of touchdown-saving tackles. Dan Carpenter is still money.

Coaching: Not often this season has the offensive coaching been better than that of the defense. Mike Pettine’s defense has applied pressure on Matt Ryan, but they have been gouged badly on more than one occasion. Nate Hackett prepared Manuel to run an up-tempo, run-based offense against the Falcons, which he has done well. Opening up the pass offense is a must to pull out this game.