Week 11 Game Recap: Buffalo Bills 10, San Diego Chargers 48
What you need to know
A week after topping the Chiefs and seemingly putting his troubles behind him, QB J.P. Losman struggled against the Chargers. His stats were helped by one drive on which he had a 30 yard run and his only touchdown pass of the afternoon. He was under constant harassment by the Chargers’ defense, and received little to no help from the run game.
Facing the NFL’s top-ranked run defense, Willis McGahee struggled mightily to do much damage. His only play of any significance was a lost fumble.
The Bills, coming off a performance that saw them stifle the mighty Kansas City offense, saw the defense let up yards any and all ways possible. They held down the Chargers run game for the most part, which only served to open numerous passing lanes and cost them the game.
TE Antonio Gates was on his way to yet another outstanding performance when he suffered a sprained foot while being tackled at the end of a reception. Gates walked off the field under his own power, and from there he was taken to the locker room in a cart. While leaving the field, Gates told a reporter he felt alright, and it is unclear at this point if he will miss any time.
QB Drew Brees took advantage of the Bills’ decision to focus on stopping LaDainian Tomlinson to put up some of the best numbers of his career. Brees had topped 200 passing yards and four touchdowns before the first half was even finished.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson had (for him) a quiet afternoon, with just 89 yards from scrimmage. The Bills seemed intent on not letting him beat them and there weren’t many holes for him. He exited the game early in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.
What you ought to know
|QB J.P. Losman, Pass: 20 - 36 - 168 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 30 - 0|
A week after leading the Bills to a big victory over Kansas City, Losman struggled mightily against San Diego. He didn’t necessarily play poorly; he just never had a chance in this one. With the run game providing no help, the Chargers defenders simply teed off on Losman all day long. He was sacked six times and intercepted once. He also lost a fumble, but the lost fumble wasn’t really his fault, as it was a bad exchange on a handoff to Willis McGahee. The exchange seemed to be more McGahee’s fault, but since he never actually had possession, the fumble was charged to Losman. Losman also fumbled on two other occasions, with one of them bouncing harmlessly out of bounds and one recovered by Losman himself. One positive from Losman’s performance was that he did show good elusiveness and scrambling ability, evidenced by his 30 yard scamper in the second quarter. He also led an efficient two minute drill just before halftime, though some may say it was too efficient. After scoring, the Chargers still had nearly 1:30 left and simply marched downfield for another touchdown. Losman missed connecting on a touchdown pass to Eric Moulds late in the third quarter, overthrowing the receiver. He also had a chance to add a score on the final possession of the game, but twice overthrew Lee Evans in the end zone on fade routes. Losman lost 14 passing yards after a completion to Eric Moulds was called back for holding.
McGahee had one of the quietest games of his pro career. He was never able to get into a rhythm in the game because of how quickly San Diego got out of the gates. McGahee didn’t record his third carry of the game until late in the second quarter, and was a complete non-factor in the passing game as the Bills played catch-up (both of his targets came in the first half). McGahee fumbled an exchange from J.P. Losman, but since the ball was never actually in McGahee’s possession, the fumble was luckily not charged to him.
Moulds wasn’t a very big factor results-wise (obviously), but he led the team in receptions and targets and nearly came up with a touchdown reception if not for an overthrow by J.P. Losman. Moulds had much more involvement as the game wore on, with eight of his ten targets coming in the second half. Moulds lost a 14 yard reception after the play was called back due to a holding penalty.
Evans could have salvaged a solid fantasy performance during garbage time when Losman looked his way twice in the end zone on fade routes. Unfortunately for Evans, both passes were overthrown and pretty well-defended. That was about the closest he game to scoring, though he did have a nice 42 yard reception early in the fourth quarter to boost the stats a bit.
Reed dropped an early reception and only managed to snag one ball. With defenders focusing on McGahee, Evans, and Moulds, Reed’s inability to get open really hurt Buffalo.
Euhus’ role was extremely limited and he obviously wasn’t a focal point of the offense.
Lindell boomed a 53 yard field goal midway through the first quarter, but wasn’t called upon the rest of the game.
The Bills were clearly focused on stopping LaDainian Tomlinson and not letting him beat them. They spent much of the game trying to get into the Chargers’ backfield, and they accomplished the goal of stopping Tomlinson, as he gained just 67 yards in about three quarters of play. Unfortunately for the Bills, stopping Tomlinson meant wide open passing lanes for Drew Brees and he responded with over 300 yards passing and four touchdowns. Interestingly enough, Tomlinson’s backup, Michael Turner, entered the game in the fourth quarter during garbage time and ran all over Buffalo. He picked up 48 yards on eight carries (including a touchdown), despite Buffalo knowing he was getting the ball without a doubt. DT Sam Adams was seen limping off the field, but no update was given on any injury.
The Bills made a concerted effort to stop the San Diego running game and choosing to trust the defensive backs to make plays. They didn’t. With the DBs playing so far off San Diego receivers, Drew Brees picked the Buffalo pass defense apart play-by-play. Most of the passes early on were quick slants and screens, but when asked to make a big play downfield he was able to pass at will. The Bills entered the game as one of the league’s top teams against the pass, but one would never have thought that based on this performance. They were only able to get any pressure on Brees once the entire game, and it resulted in a fumble that was recovered by San Diego.
|QB Drew Brees, Pass: 28 - 33 - 339 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
Brees turned in one of the best performances of his career. He spread the ball around magnificently to his receivers, and combined both quick passes with the occasional downfield strike to put up some very big stats. Early in the game, the Chargers opted to attack mostly with WR screens and quick passes. Yet when asked to make a pass downfield, Brees was on the money. His second touchdown pass, to WR Eric Parker, was a thing of beauty as Brees executed a nice pump-fake before heaving the ball downfield to a wide-open Parker. He faced almost no pressure from the Buffalo front, and it showed in his ability to survey the field and pick the most open guy.
Tomlinson had somewhat of a rough time, as the Bills clearly were intent on stopping him. Despite the relatively weaker stats, he still found the end zone early in the contest. He was initially stuffed at the goal line, but scored on the ensuing fourth down play. Tomlinson nearly added another score in the second quarter on a shovel pass, but was taken down at the two yard line. Lorenzo Neal caught a two yard touchdown on the next play as Buffalo sold out on the run and bit on the play-action fake. Tomlinson exited the game in the fourth quarter as the game was completely out of reach.
Turner took over for Tomlinson early in the fourth quarter and responded with huge stats in limited time. He carried the ball eight times during “garbage time”, meaning he was simply running out the clock and the Bills knew he was getting the ball. Turner, however, ran through, over, and around Bills’ defenders even when they knew he was coming. He is a very tough load to bring down, evidenced by his eight yard touchdown run to close out the scoring. He dragged several defenders a good ways and seemed as if he refused to be tackled. Obviously, Tomlinson owners don’t want to think about worst-case scenarios, but if one has the roster space, it might be a good idea to ensure having Turner on your roster. He’s no Tomlinson, but he has gotten the job done in his limited duty thus far.
On the day San Diego retired legendary Lance Alworth’s number 19 jersey, McCardell did the Hall of Famer proud by recording 88 yards and a touchdown en route to actually passing Alworth on the NFL’s all-time list for receiving yards.
|WR Eric Parker, Rush: 1 - 14 - 0, Rec: 4 - 69 - 1 (4 targets)|
Parker had a very productive game, especially when one considers he was only thrown to four times the entire afternoon. The high point of Parker’s day was obviously the 23 yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees. Parker’s double move really sold the pump fake, and a wide open Parker strolled into the end zone with the touchdown.
Caldwell’s 39 yard reception on the Chargers’ opening drive helped set up the Tomlinson touchdown. He was also targeted on a red zone pass and tackled at the five yard line. He was only thrown to once in the second half, when the Chargers kind of eased up on the throttle offensively.
Gates was headed for yet another huge game when he was injured early in the third quarter. The initial diagnosis is a sprained arch in his foot. He was tackled from behind during a reception and had his foot and ankle trapped under the tackler. He was able to walk off the field under his own power and was later carted off to the locker room. After the game, he was seen in a boot and was apparently in some discomfort, but the boot was very likely precautionary. Though unconfirmed at this point, Gates was apparently able to drive himself home after the game and teammates didn’t seem too concerned after the game in the locker room. Gates’ backup, Justin Peelle, apparently sprained a shoulder but no update was given outside of that. Should Gates miss any time, Gates owners could do worse than Peelle as a temporary fill-in.
As for Gates’ performance, he once again seemed completely unstoppable at most times. His touchdown reception was a great play on which he simply ran over a defender on his way to the end zone, barely reaching the goal line as he fell in. He also showed great hands on several other passes, though he did drop a potentially huge gain on a slant over the middle. He had no defenders in front of him, though several were close.
Kaeding hit field goals from 28 and 38 yards out, and a whopping six extra points. As the kicker for a very explosive offense, Kaeding is a solid bet to put up points on a consistent basis.
San Diego entered the game as the league’s top run defense, and left it the same way. They never allowed Willis McGahee to get into a rhythm (evidenced by McGahee having just four carries in the first half of the game). The San Diego run defense was actually helped along by the San Diego offense. Since the offense was able to put up a quick 35 points before halftime, the Bills pretty much had to abandon the run game in the second half.
Typically, the Chargers run defense performs extremely well and the pass defense finds a way to let teams stick around. In this game, however, the pass defense was a big reason why San Diego came out on top. As usual, they got very good pressure on J.P. Losman, never allowing him time to set his feet or get into a rhythm. They sacked him six times (including two more by the impressive Shawne Merriman) and intercepted him once. The defensive backfield, normally a weakness, today was a strength. They had good coverage at all times, save for one big play to Lee Evans. CB Quentin Jammer apparently was cramping up in his hamstring late in the game, but there were no postgame updates on anything with him, so he’s assumed to be ok.