The Buffalo Bills showed up at Ralph Wilson Stadium and earned an emotional victory. It was a beautiful day and the twelfth man was rowdy as ever. Let’s see if my five keys to winning the game played a role in their victory.
1- Must win the turnover battle.
The Bills earned themselves three turnovers against the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday and did not give up any turnovers. They recovered two fumbles in the first half to hold onto the lead and run with it, literally, but we will get to that next. Midway through the second quarter, Alex Carrington ran over Matt Cassel, leading to a fumble recovery by Mario Williams. The Bills already had a solid lead at this point, but six plays later the recovery led to a 10 yard touchdown catch by Scott Chandler to go up 21-0. While this turnover came at a good time, the second fumble may have put the game away by stopping the Chiefs’ momentum going into halftime as the Bills defense stopped a goal line touchdown attempt by Peyton Hillis and also led to a fumble recovery in the end zone by Bryan Scott. The Bills later took advantage of a long ball at the end of the game that was intercepted by Jarius Byrd. It may not have impacted the game, but it was still a nice way to exit the stadium.
2- Stop third down conversions.
The Chiefs could not get anything going offensively until garbage time, which oddly enough, seemed identical to the Bills last week against the New York Jets. The Chiefs were 5-14 on third downs with no fourth down attempts. On their first possession, the Chiefs made a costly coaching error in not going for it on fourth down. Knowing that Buffalo struggled on third downs against the Jets, the Chiefs found themselves at fourth and one at Buffalo’s 46 yard line. It looked like Kansas City was going to go for it, but instead played it safe, trying to catch the Bills defense off sides. The Bills stayed tight and eventually the Chiefs were called for a delay of game and forced to punt. This changed the tempo of the game and it was all Buffalo from there. The Chiefs could have used Todd Haley’s rule of thumb by always going for it on fourth down, but he was too busy running the offense and winning in Pittsburgh.
3- C.J. Spiller needs to find holes.
Another exceptional showing by Spiller yesterday as he recorded 123 yards and two touchdowns, not to mention his 47 yards receiving. Unless the running backs tonight have break out games, Spiller will go into week three as the leading rusher in the NFL. Spiller was unstoppable this week against the Chiefs finding the big holes, with his longest gains being 38 yards on the ground leading to a touchdown and 27 yards in the air, also leading to a touchdown. While Spiller is starting off hot and leaving defenses in the dust, the offensive line hasn’t gone unnoticed as they have to be given the credit for forming huge holes for Spiller and also not allowing any sacks in their first two games. Fred Jackson will be back in a couple weeks but how will the carries be divided?
4- Mario Williams needs to perform better than Tambi Hali
While I wouldn’t say Williams had a show stopping performance, he did recover the fumble mentioned earlier and he did create some pressure by tipping a ball and earned two more tackles. Williams did not record a sack, but the team did. In fact, the defense sacked Cassel five times and you would have to assume that the double and triple coverage that Williams was getting played a role in the other defensive players being able to get to the quarterback. From what I could see in the stands, Williams was double covered a lot throughout the day. On the other side, Tambi Hali had a rough 2012 debut. He did manage to have four tackles but was unable to get to Ryan Fitzpatrick and did not create much pressure as Spiller was able to run freely, and the receivers caught short passes for long gains. Hali also was accused of dirty play as Eric Wood and Andy Levitre called his play into question and openly asked the league to review his play during their postgame interviews with the media. We will have to wait and see if this develops into anything further.
5- Stevie Johnson needs to be a leader.
Stevie also had a quiet day for the most part but stepped up when it mattered with a 49 yard touchdown reception giving the Bills a 28-3 lead before the end of the half. His total on the day was 2 catches for 56 yards. It looked like Fitzpatrick was put into the time out chair this week as coach Chan Gailey finally set up a game plan that was a run first attack. Fitzpatrick had only 19 attempts with 10 completions so the wide receivers were able to have mediocre numbers with little effect to the outcome of the game. Chandler also stepped up big with two receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown. While Fitzpatrick was able to throw it to six different receivers, he is going to have to be a little more accurate and help the young receivers make plays. Until the running game is slowed by a good defense and the receivers need to step up, Fitzpatrick and the receivers remain a looming question this season.
What do you think of the Bills’ performance this week? I’d love to hear your opinions. You can also find my articles on twitter @christynepolle.