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Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange
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PLAYER NOTES

-- TE Scott Chandler had four catches for 62 yards and two TDs, showing that he can be the viable option the Bills need minus injured David Nelson.

-- WR Stevie Johnson was targeted 10 times, but caught only two passes for 23 yards.

-- LB Nick Barnett made a game-high 15 tackles, but none were for losses, and he also had some visible missed tackles.

-- P Shawn Powell made his NFL debut and had a 41.8-yard gross and 39.0 net on five punts, with two dropped inside the 20.

-- RB C.J. Spiller played despite a shoulder injury, but he rushed for just 33 yards on eight carries.

-- WR Brad Smith was never used in the Wildcat, but he did catch two passes for 49 yards including a 35-yard TD.

REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS

PASSING OFFENSE
C-minus -- Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns, which was pretty good. He also threw four interceptions, which was pretty bad. In other words, it was typical Fitzpatrick in that he can look terrific, as he did on the two TDs he fired to TE Scott Chandler, or simply awful as he did on every one of the picks. The Patriots held WR Stevie Johnson to just two catches for 23 yards, and the offensive line - which had allowed just one sack in three games - gave up three and also lost two starters to ankle injuries, LT Cordy Glenn and RG Kraig Urbik.

RUSHING OFFENSE
D -- One week ago it looked as if the Bills might be without both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller due to injuries. Surprisingly, both were able to play against the Patriots, but it was certainly tough to tell. Spiller gained 33 yards on eight carries, Jackson 29 on 13 attempts. The Patriots manhandled Buffalo's line and the Bills finished with 98 rushing yards, 3.6 per attempt.

PASS DEFENSE
D-minus -- The Bills, as always, had no answers for the Patriots passing game. Tom Brady threw for 340 yards and three TDs and he did not throw an interception, a pretty typical performance for him against the Bills. The Bills can never cover Wes Welker, and he had nine catches for 129 yards, and like the rest of the NFL, they have no one who can cover Rob Gronkowski, who had five catches for 104 yards. Even worse was the lack of a pass rush from a line that had nine sacks in the last two games, albeit against awful Kansas City and Cleveland. Mario Williams was a complete non-factor for the third time in his four games as a Bill.

RUSH DEFENSE
F -- It's one thing to give up big numbers to Tom Brady in the passing game. To allow Steven Ridley and Brandon Bolden to each top 100 yards, giving the Patriots 247 rushing yards was simply ridiculous. The Bills defense was manhandled at the point of attack, the supposed great defensive line pushed off the ball repeatedly and the linebackers nowhere to be found until the backs were 5-10 yards downfield. Nick Barnett had 15 tackles, Bryan Scott 14, and most were after productive gains, none for losses.

SPECIAL TEAMS
C -- This was one of the quietest special teams games in recent memory. The teams combined for just three punt and kickoff returns, there were no turnovers, and both punters were average. The Bills did try an onside kick, but failed to recover it. In his NFL debut, punter Shawn Powell averaged 41.8 gross, 39.0 net with two inside the 20.

COACHING
F -- The defensive staff has a lot to answer for following a game in which the Bills gave up 580 yards, second-most in team history, 45 second-half points and 31 fourth-quarter points, both the most in team history. The Patriots did whatever they wanted, by air and by land, and Dave Wannstedt had no answers. He couldn't find a way to dial up pass rush pressure, and his run fits were awful against a team that ran only a few basic running plays. On offense, the Bills moved the ball and scored, but it mattered little thanks to six turnovers.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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