Monday, December 16, 2013
Upon Further Review: Bills Week 15
By Mike Rodak
A review of four hot issues from the Buffalo Bills' 27-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars:
Williams, Dareus injured: The Bills lost a pair of defensive starters to injuries in the fourth quarter. Safety Aaron Williams -- who had an interception and forced a fumble -- left with injured ribs, while defensive tackle Marcell Dareus departed with an injured ankle. We'll know more about their status when coach Doug Marrone speaks to reporters at 2 p.m. Monday. Until Sunday, the Bills had been on a streak of good health for most of the second half of the season.
Red zone rebound: Where did this come from? If anything had been consistent this season about the Bills, it had been their inability to score touchdowns in the red zone. They ranked 30th in the NFL entering Sunday's game, yet they went 3-for-3 in the contest. In trying to pinpoint what changed, the running game sticks out. C.J. Spiller had an 11-yard run near the end of the first touchdown drive, Fred Jackson gained 19 yards to set the table for an 8-yard scramble by EJ Manuel on the second touchdown drive, and Manuel and Jackson combined for 17 yards on three carries before Frank Summers' 1-yard touchdown catch on the third scoring drive. Had they stalled and kicked field goals on those drives, the Bills most likely don't win Sunday's game.
Pesky third downs: Early this season, the Bills defense was porous on third down. They've seemed to gradually improve since then, even holding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 27 percent rate in a 27-6 loss. But Sunday, something changed. The Bills allowed the Jaguars to convert on 53 percent of third downs, helping to keep Jacksonville's struggling offense on the field. Of the eight third-down chances that the Jaguars turned into first downs, six came on third-and-7 or longer. Some of those were shorter catch-and-runs where better tackling and containment could have prevented the conversion.
Bills tie sack record: With another five sacks Sunday, the Bills now have an NFL-best 49. Since the NFL instituted the sack as an official statistic in 1982, the Bills' franchise best came in 1995, when they also had 49. Before 1982, the Bills' record was 50 sacks in 1964. Either way, it's a mark that the current Bills will almost certainly surpass in their final two games.