NFL – Bills’ Game Review

26 Dec

The Buffalo Bills, after suffering through a seven game losing streak in which they hadn’t won a game since late October, turned the calendar back to September with an effort that looked like one of their early season games, beating the Denver Broncos 40-14 on Saturday in their home finale for 2011. Played on Christmas Eve, the win was a great Christmas present for the home fans, as all 3 phases – offense, defense and special teams – made contributions. The offense didn’t play a spectacular game, but played well enough to win. Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t light it up, but did 2 things that he has to continue to do in 2012 if he is to lead the team to a winning season – he didn’t turn the ball over, and he used his legs to pick up a couple first downs and keep drives alive. That’s an important part of his game that’s been missing during the losing streak. C.J. Spiller had his best day as a pro running the ball, gaining over 100 yards and showing that he’ll be an important weapon in both the running and passing game next year.

The defense returned to their form of the early part of 2011, picking Tim Tebow off 4 times with Jairus Byrd and Spencer Johnson returning theirs for touchdowns to put the game away. They also did a good job of shutting down the Bronco running game and for the most part did a pretty good job of getting off the field on third downs. Byrd and Johnson, besides having the pick-sixes, were among the team leaders in tackles for the day, as was rookie cornerback Aaron Williams, who gets better with each game of experience he gets. Williams and fellow rookie Justin Rogers had the other 2 of the 4 picks the defense got. The star of the day for the D, however, was Chris Kelsay. Lined up for most of the game against a rookie tackle, Kelsay played the game of his career, leading the team with 9 tackles and recording 2 sacks on Tebow, one of the toughest QBs to bring down in the league.

 As for special teams, Rogers was again good on kickoff returns, while Leodis McKelvin had a career day returning punts, including an 80 yard TD return. Kicker Dave Rayner had a rough day, missing a chip shot field goal for the second straight week. He did, however, kick 4 field goals in 6 attempts to give the Bills a big enough lead to allow the pass rush to tee off on Tebow in the fourth quarter and create the game-deciding turnovers.

The Bills get one last chance to go into the off-season with a good feeling with a game at New England this week. It’s a tall task and there certainly will be no expectations, but if the players keep a “nothing to lose” attitude and just play hard, who knows what they can do?

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