The Buffalo Bills were hoping to ride a miracle push to the playoffs on the backs of their improved defense. That new and improved defense was nowhere to be found on Sunday when the Bills fell to the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 34-31. The Bills’ defense gave up 423 yards of total offense en route to a crushing overtime defeat.
Two of the Bills’ best young players, Kiko Alonso and Stephon Gilmore, led the way. Alonso had a poor game in run defense; he over-pursued on both of the Falcons’ long TD runs in the first half that kept them in the game. Despite recovering a fumble in the second half, Alonso did more harm than good out there and probably played his worst game yet as a pro.
Gilmore looked lost in pass coverage. He couldn’t cover either Roddy White or Harry Douglas, who combined for 16 catches for over 200 yards. It’s amazing to think that Gilmore was the best rookie CB in the league last year and now he is getting burnt on a regular basis. It’s even more surprising when the former whipping boy of the Bills’ secondary, Leodis McKelvin, has excelled this season. The Bills need the 2012 version of Gilmore back as soon as possible.
Now that the playoffs are all but in the rear view mirror, the Bills will move to evaluation mode. Alonso and Gilmore’s roster spots are obviously safe, but they’ll need to play better or the Bills will be forced to bring in players at their positions. The Bills already need a play-making LB, and Alonso would lose snaps to that guy if he was on the team now. Conversely, if the Bills decided to bring in a veteran CB next season, it would likely be at the expense of Gilmore’s playing time rather than McKelvin’s. These guys have four games to get their acts together, and I’d advise that they start this week.