Falcons vs. Bills: Full Roster Report Cards for Buffalo
Though they quickly stormed off to a 14-0 lead, the Buffalo Bills later surrendered the game due to a comedy of errors. Despite seemingly being on their way to a game-winning score in the final two minutes of regulation, the Bills managed to ruin things yet again.
While most people could have agreed the playoffs were an unlikely target, that doesn't quite ease the disappointment of losing in a fashion that was all too familiar.
The Bills remain in the hunt for a playoff spot by technicality, but they can't be counted on to win their own games, let alone get sufficient help from other teams around the league.
All of this being said, there were a number of position groups that played admirably in Sunday's defeat. Let's take a look at how each group fared.
1. E.J. Manuel
2. Thad Lewis
At quarterback, Manuel had a ho-hum day at the helm, while Lewis appeared in relief for one offensive snap. Manuel certainly didn't lose the game for the Bills, but his 56.2 completion percentage and 210 yards didn't exactly set the world on fire, either.
With one passing touchdown and one on the ground, Manuel did his part. Late in the game and in overtime, he led the offense downfield quickly and efficiently. However, all of this work was undone by two costly fumbles.
Though not perfect, Manuel put his team in a position to win.
1. Fred Jackson
2. C.J. Spiller
3. Tashard Choice
4. Frank Summers
The Bills running backs had their way with the Atlanta defense. Jackson and Spiller combined for 192 yards on 26 carries, and each contributed with their own rushing touchdown.
Spiller broke the game open on a 76-yard rush on the Bills' first series, showing the speed and elusiveness that make him so valuable. Jackson also played a significant part in the passing game, highlighted by an impressive 21-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.
The running backs were a bright spot for the Bills in a rough game.
1. Stevie Johnson
2. Robert Woods
3. T.J. Graham
4. Marquise Goodwin
5. Scott Chandler
6. Lee Smith
When the wide receivers needed to be at their best in this game, they let the team down. Late in the fourth quarter, with the Bills driving for a would-be game-winning score, Johnson made a catch and was stripped while running with the ball in Atlanta territory.
However, to make matters worse, Chandler did the exact same thing in overtime. Ultimately, Bills players will say the loss was "on the team," but this group had a lot to do with it.
Chandler led the team with 66 receiving yards, with Johnson and Woods behind him. Woods only managed two receptions for 36 yards, but one of them showed some serious athleticism. Perhaps we'll be seeing that more often from Woods in the future.
Graham and Goodwin were non-factors, and the Bills hope to get more out of the two speedsters in the future, starting with Week 14's tilt with Tampa Bay.
1. Cordy Glenn
2. Erik Pears
3. Thomas Welch
4. Kraig Urbik
5. Doug Legursky
6. Eric Wood
In a rare occurrence, the offensive linemen held the Falcons defense to zero sacks on the day. Add in an absurd 7.4 yards per carry by the combination of Spiller and Jackson, and you don't have much to harp on this group for.
Aside from a late hit by Sean Weatherspoon, Manuel was virtually untouched by Atlanta's futile pass rush. Though I'd like to give the Bills offensive line some credit, it's clear that the Falcons line is really below average.
As we approach the offseason, the unit looks to be a left guard short of being one of the league's better units again. As for now, they pass with flying colors in Week 13.
1. Marcell Dareus
2. Kyle Williams
3. Alan Branch
4. Corbin Bryant
5. Stefan Charles
Though they registered two sacks (one each by Dareus and Bryant), the Bills defensive line was pushed around for the better part of the day. Williams seemed to be hampered by his freak back injury, and the Falcons ran with success throughout the game.
This unit has often been very stout in the red zone, but Sunday wasn't their best day. They allowed 5.0 yards per carry to the Falcons and an unusual three touchdowns on the ground.
A healthier Kyle Williams would make this unit play much better in run defense next week.
1. Mario Williams
2. Manny Lawson
3. Jerry Hughes
4. Jamaal Westerman
This group of outside linebackers continued to make a strong impact on the game. Hughes built on his already impressive year by registering two sacks, while Williams and Lawson each had one.
Lawson was particularly active throughout the game, as he made five tackles, two of which were for a loss. He's quietly been a very solid pickup for the Bills this year, adding a spark in both passing and run defense.
Williams has sole possession of third place in the league in sacks, with 12.0 on the year. The Bills need him to continue to make plays as the team looks to make a bigger push next year.
1. Kiko Alonso
2. Arthur Moats
3. Nigel Bradham
Kiko Alonso is well on his way to taking the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, but this was not his best game. Despite leading the team with 13 tackles, he over-pursued on a number of occasions, leading to big runs for Atlanta.
Moats and Bradham didn't play terribly, but they failed to make much of a positive impact, either. Put simply, this unit was only average on a day when they needed to be better.
Regardless of individual efforts, the defense has to be extremely disappointed with giving up 34 points on the day.
1. Stephon Gilmore
2. Leodis McKelvin
3. Nickell Robey
4. Ron Brooks
Some may disagree, but McKelvin has been one of the most underrated Bills this season. He may have poor ball skills, but the six-year veteran is starting to get the hang of things.
On the day, McKelvin registered 10 tackles (eight of which were solo), including one great read to sniff out what would have been a big gain for Atlanta. We're all familiar with how much potential he has, but it appears he's beginning to realize it at the age of 28.
Meanwhile, Stephon Gilmore had a pretty rough day. He took a costly hands-to-the-face penalty and got beaten on numerous occasions.
Nickell Robey, on the other hand, had a solid day until a costly pass interference call that gave the Falcons new life in the dwindling moments of the game.
1. Aaron Williams
2. Jairus Byrd
3. Da'Norris Searcy
4. Jim Leonhard
At safety, the Bills had a solid day. Williams has had a nice first year in his position switch, and we saw him do a solid job with one pass defended and seven tackles while guarding Tony Gonzalez.
Jairus Byrd had a very quiet nine tackles. He made no exceptional plays, but he was very solid in coverage and run support. Look for him to try to make some plays in the coming weeks, as he has a big contract coming his way from some team in this league.
1. Dan Carpenter
2. Brian Moorman
3. Leodis McKelvin
4. Marquise Goodwin
The Bills special teams unit neither won nor lost the game. In the kicking game, Carpenter hit a 29-yard field goal and four extra points, while Moorman averaged 42.7 yards on seven punts.
McKelvin muffed one punt but quickly recovered the ball after. He had a nifty 17-yard return later, but it was a pretty average day for the punt return unit.
Meanwhile, Goodwin averaged 27.5 yards on two kickoff returns. Teams still actively avoid kicking the ball to Goodwin, a speedster who is on every team's radar.
With virtually no impact on the game's final result, the special teams unit gets a pass.