Week 4 Game Recap: Buffalo Bills 7, New Orleans Saints 19
What you need to know
J.P. Losman had another bad game throwing the football. He completed just seven passes and again had trouble when trying to throw long. His longest completion of the day was 19 yards to convert a third and long, but he averaged only five yards per attempt. Losman looked deep for Eric Moulds on the Bills’ fourth possession, but the pass was overthrown by a long way and Jason Craft was able to make a comfortable interception for the Saints. Losman was sacked three times in the game, and fumbled on one of them but recovered the ball. He was almost sacked in the end zone on the Bills’ second drive, but just managed to get a pass off. With 13:31 left in the fourth quarter, Kelly Holcomb replaced Losman at quarterback. Holcomb did not fare well either, completing three of six passes and taking a sack. There will undoubtedly be a lot of speculation over which quarterback will start for the Bills next week.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bills looked better than last week for much of the game. The run defense was able to stifle Deuce McAllister in the first half, holding him to 28 yards on ten carries. McAllister found success running the ball in the fourth quarter as the Saints tried to run out the clock. After looking strong for most of the game, the Bills ended up conceding 130 yards rushing to McAllister and 167 net rushing yards on the day, including a four yard touchdown run to Aaron Brooks. The Bills’ pass defense did well for the majority of the game, allowing 166 net passing yards. The defense was quick to tackle and did not give up many big gains, but Donte’ Stallworth eventually broke free for two receptions of over 20 yards.
Rian Lindell missed his first kick of the year when a 45 yard field goal attempt slid to the right of the upright. Terrence McGee almost gave the Bills a spark when he returned a kickoff 81 yards as time expired in the first half. He looked as if he would be stopped on several occasions but broke numerous tackles and got clear. He appeared to trip over his own blockers four yards short of a score.
This was the closest that the Saints have come to a home game this year, and the crowd in the Alamodome was extremely loud, forcing the Bills into an early delay of game penalty.
With the Bills’ run defense ranked last in rushing yards allowed, the Saints failed to run the ball as well as expected in the first half. Deuce McAllister was only given ten carries in the opening 30 minutes, and he made just 28 yards. It was a different story in the second half and McAllister ended the game with 27 carries for 130 yards, although he was held scoreless. He had four consecutive first down carries as the Saints used him to take some time off the clock in the fourth quarter, including a 26 yard run to take the Saints into field goal range. Aaron Brooks also had success running the ball, ending the day with seven carries for 33 yards and a touchdown.
Joe Horn was inactive for the Saints as he rested his injured hamstring, leaving Donte’ Stallworth as the main receiver and Az-Zahir Hakim as the other starter. On the Saints’ second drive, Stallworth dropped an easy catch for what would have been a big gain, and McAllister dropped a pass on the next play to end the drive. Stallworth was by far the most heavily targeted receiver in the game, and finished the day with eight receptions for 129 yards.
The Saints’ pass defense had a great game and was able to apply pressure on the Bills’ quarterbacks all day. Charles Grant led the way with seven solo tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Darren Howard had two sacks and Will Smith another. Jason Craft intercepted Losman’s longest passing attempt of the day. The Bills were held to 67 net passing yards in the game. Willis McGahee was able to move the ball on the ground, and the Saints’ run defense allowed 141 net rushing yards. But the overall defensive performance was strong, and the Saints did not look like they would give up the lead in the second half.
What you ought to know
|QB J.P. Losman, Pass: 7 - 15 - 75 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 38 - 0|
Losman had a bad day and was replaced early in the fourth quarter. He only attempted 15 passes, completing seven and throwing an interception to Jason Craft. The interception came as Losman tried to go deep to Eric Moulds, but the pass was well overthrown and was caught comfortably by Craft. Losman looked tentative for the most part, almost getting tackled for a safety in the end zone, before getting sacked three times on the day. His interception led to several conservative attempts to pass the ball, and he managed just five yards per attempt in the game. Losman ran the ball four times for 38 yards including a 14 yard run for a first down. His mobility is not in question, but his status as starter is in doubt for the immediate future.
|QB Kelly Holcomb, Pass: 3 - 6 - 28 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0|
Holcomb entered the game with 13:31 left in the fourth quarter after J.P. Losman had again looked ineffective. Holcomb’s first pass was batted down and he did little to impress in his limited action. He fumbled one snap but held onto the ball, but lost a fumble after being sacked by Charles Grant.
With the Bills placing a heavy emphasis on establishing their rushing attack from the outset, EJ Manuel was quiet early on as he efficiently ran Doug Marrone's up-tempo offense, gassing the Ravens. As Baltimore began to stack the line of scrimmage in an effort to stymie the Bills' ground game, opportunities presented themselves for Manuel. The rookie's lone touchdown pass came off a beautifully executed sleight of hand play fake as Manuel drove the football between the hashes to a streaking Robert Woods. The single high safety, responsible for deep third coverage, bit hard on an underneath crossing pattern. With Woods getting inside the cornerback covering him, Manuel dropped it perfectly into Woods' arms, displaying great touch and velocity. Manuel could have added a second touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson, who was wide open after a double move, but an onrushing defender forced Manuel to release the football quicker than he would have liked, and the pass fell harmlessly incomplete. Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett hadn't utilised the read option too often in the first three weeks, but there were several called runs for Manuel against Baltimore. The coaching staff will surely not be happy, however, with Manuel's awkward slides. In the third quarter, Manuel floated a perfect pass to the back corner of the end zone for Woods, who bobbled the ball and failed to gain control and get two feet down; after being called a touchdown, the decision was reversed on replay. Regardless, Manuel's ball placement and touch were immaculate. Despite all the positives for Manuel, there were arguably as many negatives. The first of Manuel's two interceptions came on a tipped pass as he attempted to zip a five-yard pass into Stevie Johnson. The receiver allowed the ball to hit his hands, and it flew into the air for a grateful Daryl Smith to pick off, so the blame rests more with Johnson. The second interception was on Manuel; failing to set his feet on an ambitious deep ball down the middle of the field, the pass was underthrown and the cornerback in coverage had only to turn around and allow the ball to come to him. Manuel showed good poise and accuracy throughout, but it is clear the Bills are not ready to 'unleash' him yet as a passer.
McGahee began the game by breaking free for a 25 yard run on the first play of the game. He capped the drive by going in from the one yard line, diving over the approaching defenders. The Bills failed to find success on offense for the remainder of the first half, and McGahee only had 30 rushing yards by half time. He had a 14 yard gain on the Bills’ opening possession of the second half, but the drive stalled. He broke a 40 yard run when Holcomb entered the game, but a holding penalty took away some of the gain. The Bills used McGahee on third and short at the Saints’ 48 yard line but he failed to convert. With the game slipping away, the Bills were forced to try and convert on fourth down but McGahee was hit for a two yard loss by Dwight Smith in his return to the strong safety role.
Williams had a 12 yard run for a first down in the second quarter, but did not make any other significant contributions for the Bills.
Jackson continues to be a great role player, whether he spells Marshawn Lynch in the backfield, catches passes down field, or fills in for Roscoe Parrish returning punts. He also punched in a two point conversion on a short run up the middle but the play was flagged for illegal procedure. Lindell then kicked the extra point.
The fullback was the recipient of one check down pass, but mostly had his hands full blocking the Jets as the offensive line continues to make better turnstiles than walls.
Behind most of the game, the ground attack was largely ignored and with it, Spiller. The rookie was also a non-factor in the receiving game. He did average 22 yards per kick return, but for the most part the Jets contained the dynamic playmaker.
Thomas had two rushing attempts for four yards. He was targeted once and muffed the catch. In fact, he looked more like a volleyball player, who was trying to set up a teammate; the pass was batted up and nearly intercepted
Moulds was the intended target on a deep pass from J.P. Losman, but the ball was intercepted by Jason Craft. Moulds was not at fault on the play as the ball was well overthrown. Moulds made a great 11 yard catch on second and 19, and the Bills converted the next play for a first down. Moulds seems to still have plenty of ability but the ineffective play at quarterback is limiting his chances.
Smith caught two passes on the day. The most significant was a 19 yard reception to convert on third down after the Bills had been in a first and 22 situation following a holding penalty. Smith had a 64 yard kickoff return, but the Bills had to start at their 40 yard line after being called for holding during the return.
Evans caught passes of 15 yards and 13 yards on the opening drive, both for first downs. He was not a factor for the remainder of the game.
Reed caught the only pass thrown his way, gaining 14 yards and a first down.
Price had his best game of the season with five catches for 40 yards and a touchdown. Price’s touchdown was not only his first of the season but his first since the 2004 season in Atlanta. He scored on an eight yard screen pass from Losman, breaking loose from a swarm of defenders that appeared to give up on the play and sprinted along the sideline into the end zone. Also, Price had an end around play for no gain.
Manuel’s second favorite target out wide, Watkins struggled to turn a bevy of targets on Sunday into much production outside of his five-yard touchdown catch. Watkins was lined up outside Woods and on the snap he slipped underneath Woods’ route. Providing just enough space to get across the defender’s face, Watkins powerfully snatched the ball out of the air and then did a good job to maintain control as he absorbed contact and went into the end zone. Watkins also caught two comebackers for 7 yards and a quick hitter off play action for 10 yards. Outside of the touchdown, Watkins biggest impact was his three drops, two of which would have resulted in first downs as he ran quick outs on both but couldn’t handle the low throws.
Mike Williams only caught two balls on Sunday, but one went for 80 yards and a touchdown. Lined up outside and working vertically down the sideline, Williams right past Johnathan Joseph as he sat in cover two. Looking back and seeing Manuel in trouble as JJ Watt was bearing down, Williams just kept running down the field and free from the coverage. DJ Swearinger was supposed to be providing the deep help, but he got caught jumping Scott Chandler who was working underneath Williams. Uncovered and deep, all Williams had to do was insure he made the catch before outrunning everyone into the end zone for the 80-yard touchdown. Safe to say it was a bit fluky, but both Manuel and Williams did a nice job maximizing on the big play opportunity. Williams’ other catch only went for four yards as the wide receiver sat down over the middle to provide a release for Manuel when he was troubled. Williams also had a poor drop on what was probably Manuel’s most accurate throw of the day. With Williams again working vertically, Manuel perfectly put the ball on Williams’ hands and while it was a tough, contested catch, it is one Williams needs to make for his errant quarterback.
The well-rounded former USC receiver continues to be peppered with passes by fellow rookie EJ Manuel as the pair develops a nice rapport. Manuel hooked up with a streaking Woods for a beautiful touchdown pass in the second quarter. Woods got inside the cornerback in coverage and, with the deep safety biting on an underneath crosser, Woods was able to dissect the defense and get on the end of a touch pass from Manuel for a 42-yard score. The duo could have added a second touchdown in the third quarter. Manuel zipped a perfect pass to the back pylon, Woods making the tough catch with a defender in his hip pocket, but the receiver was unable to get control prior to tapping two feet in bounds. Originally called a touchdown on the field, the ruling was reversed on review. Regardless, Manuel and Woods' connection is growing stronger with 26 targets through the first four weeks.
Campbell was targeted on Kelly Holcomb’s opening pass, but the ball was batted down. Campbell appeared to get in the way of Terrence McGee on a kick return at the end of the first half, possibly costing the Bills a touchdown.
The touchdown streak for Chandler came to an end this week as the Bills passing game was shut down by a tough Bengals defense. He caught both passes thrown to him but only picked up 8 yards on the day. This stat line was more in line with the preseason expectations we had for Chandler.
Back up tight end Kevin Everett made his first career reception for a one yard gain.
After making all nine of his field goal attempts so far this year, Lindell finally missed as a 45 yard attempt slid just right of the upright. Lindell made his extra point attempt.
The Bills entered the game with the worst run defense in the league after giving up 522 yards through three games. With Takeo Spikes on injured reserve, Angelo Crowell started the game. The first half looked promising as the defense held Deuce McAllister to 28 yards on ten carries, although Aaron Brooks was able to run in a touchdown from four yards out. The second half was a disaster for the Bills as McAllister carried 17 times for 102 yards. Much of the damage was done in the final few minutes as the Bills’ defense tired. At one point the defense allowed McAllister to run for four consecutive first downs.
The Bills allowed 167 net passing yards on the day, and were quick to tackle for the most part when a Saints’ receiver did catch the ball. But Donte’ Stallworth eluded them for big gains on a couple of occasions. Aaron Schobel gained good penetration several times during the game, but Brooks was able to scramble away each time. Schobel did manage one sack, but the play was negated on a holding penalty committed by Nate Clements. London Fletcher had the Bills’ only valid sack of the day.
|QB Aaron Brooks, Pass: 15 - 26 - 172 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - 33 - 1|
Brooks was almost picked off on the Saints’ opening series when looking for Donte’ Stallworth, but he recovered and played well in the game. The second drive ended after Stallworth and McAllister dropped passes that should have been caught. Brooks found Stallworth for a 24 yard gain and the play would have gone for a touchdown had Lawyer Milloy not made a saving tackle for the Bills. Brooks ran well in this game, scrambling for two first downs and running in the Saints’ only touchdown of the day. Brooks did not make any costly errors in the game, but failed to throw any touchdown passes.
Brees had good numbers by the end of the game, but he was not really setting the world on fire as a passer. He connected with ten different receivers, but none of his receivers had a reception over 20 yards until the waning moments of the game. Reggie Bush did manage a 32 yard catch in the first half, but all of that came from Bush’s running after the reception, not via Brees’ prowess.
The final drive of the game was a quick strike to WR Marques Colston for an 86 yard touchdown, the only TD pass of the game for Brees. It moved him over the 300 yard plateau, but again not much of his performance was awe inspiring. The Saints’ passing game was very much about ball control and short to medium passes, with the occasional chance at breaking a long gain.
McAllister started slowly but ended up being a big factor in the game. After being held to 28 yards on ten carries in the first half, McAllister become more of a factor as the Bills’ defense tired. He was responsible for around half of the Saints’ first downs, and had a stretch late in the game where he ran for first downs on four consecutive plays, the last of which went for 26 yards. McAllister did not score a touchdown, but did have carries from the three yard line and then the two on one drive, before it stalled resulting in a field goal. He caught two passes in the game, including an 11 yard reception for a first down. Another drive stalled when McAllister dropped an easy pass on third down.
McAllister was spelled by Antowain Smith on a few plays, but Smith ended the day with negative yardage on four carries, and a three yard reception on his only target of the game.
|RB Mike Karney, Rush: 3 - 6 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)|
Karney was not a factor in this game, making only one reception for four yards in the third quarter.
Betts looked good for a guy who has reached journeyman status in the league. The Saints used his good hands out of the backfield on many occasions, and he also ran well on delay draws up the gut. Betts made a few defenders miss in the open field, and put his shoulder down to truck a Panthers defender to display some power to go with his subtle elusiveness. His blitz pickup skills also made him a valuable player for the Saints with both of their lead backs out. Betts did get few goal-to-go carries that were thrown for losses, but overall he did well enough to remain the #3A back for the Saints even after Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush return, assuming the team wants to carry four RBs.
Cadet had a much bigger role than in previous weeks and not all of it can be attributed to the Saints playing from behind most of the game. He had three touches on the opening drive. On an early 2nd and 5, Cadet motioned out of the backfield into the slot and ran a crossing route. He caught the ball two yards short of the yard to gain but instead of diving forward for the first down, danced backwards and lost ground setting up a 3rd and 3 run on which he only gained one yard. Later in the game, Cadet lined up in the slot next to Colston and ran an out and up. The Safety bit on the underneath action to Colston leaving Cadet wide open streaking down the sideline for an easy 32-yard-gain.
Evans almost scored his third touchdown of the season, and he continues to get a few touches a game in this high-powered offense. He got three carries in addition to his red zone look in the passing game.
- Mark Ingram got a lot of work on the ground in this
offense but his production did not match the level you might expect
with 17 carries. He showed his power and determination as he was given
the ball up the middle time and time again but rarely was able to make
it much past the line of scrimmage. Ingram has to share the ball with
two other RB’s in this offense that likes to pass as much as they do,
his value is hopefully getting a lot of goal line carries.
Robinson got a rushing opportunity on the Saints’ first possession, running hard up the middle for four yards. Robinson lost two on his next carry as the Saints offensive line struggled with the defensive front. Robinson carried again on the first play of the fifth offensive series, but gained only 1 yard. Robinson kicked off the Saints’ final scoring drive with a nice 6-yard run, a cut-back that actually had a little break in the defensive line. Robinson finally broke free for some positive rushing yardage as the Dolphins appeared to tire at the beginning of the fourth quarter. He followed the blocking well as they opened a nice hole on the right side and fell forward for 11-yards and another first down. The next play was a sweep to the left and Robinson got outside again falling forward for ten yards and another first down. On the next play, the linebackers stepped up, but he kept his legs churning and ground out another 6-yard gain. Robinson was the team’s leading rusher, but only gained 37 yards on 12 carries as the team managed only 68 yards total on the ground on 24 attempts.
Pierre Thomas once again had an effective game for the Saints, powering his way between the tackles for 86 yards on 18 carries. He had a touchdown from the one yard line but a fumble (recovered by Drew Brees) in Jets territory. Thomas ran aggressively through the Jets front 7, hitting the hole hard and gaining yards after contact. He only had 2 carries in which he failed to gain positive yardage and clearly appears to be the Saints choice as “bell cow” out of the back field. Thomas had a particularly impressive run in the 3rd quarter when he carried three successive times for 18, 7, and 18 yards. Thomas also caught 4 balls for 46 yards including a 36 yard screen pass that took the Saints to the Jets 1 yard line.
Stallworth was the most heavily targeted receiver in the game, and was clearly the go to guy for Aaron Brooks with Joe Horn inactive due to a hamstring injury. Stallworth was the target on the Saints’ opening drive when McGee almost intercepted the pass from Brooks. The next time Stallworth saw the ball was on a perfectly thrown pass on the Saints’ next drive, but he dropped what should have been an easy catch. He then almost scored after making a 24 yard catch but was just tackled by Lawyer Milloy. Stallworth accounted for 129 yards of the Saints’ 167 net passing yards and he had several key catches for first downs. Stallworth saw action on special teams with Lewis and Stecker out, but he did not distinguish himself by fumbling one of his two returns. He did however recover the ball.
Henderson did not have a big role in the game, catching one of his three targets.
Hakim started the game due to Joe Horn being inactive. He was targeted once in the end zone, but came down out of bounds after making the catch. He returned two punts for a total of 13 yards.
Colston had a quiet first half, catching just one pass for 12 yards and a first down in the first quarter. He was targeted in the end zone before halftime, but the ball was batted away by DB Richard Marshall. Colston picked up the pace in the second half, catching all four balls that sailed in his direction, starting with two passes for 14 total yards in the third quarter.
Colston added a 20 yard catch in the fourth quarter before his biggest play of the day (and his career to date). He caught a pass from QB Drew Brees at about the Saints’ 45 yard line and then accelerated away from four Panthers’ defenders. Colston out ran them for 55 yards to complete an 86 yard touchdown reception. The most interesting part of the play was that Colston was not laboring at all to stay ahead of the defense – he almost appeared to be coasting to the end zone. His ability to separate only heightens his already lofty value.
Cooks had another quiet day. He was solid on intermediary passes with a couple nice catches, though a bobble on 3rd and 10 caused him to come up a couple yards short of a first down. Cooks has made little impact of late on short throws or deep down the field however the past few games. The Cowboys were all over the short passes and Cooks ended up with little to no gain the few times they ran dump offs or WR screens to him. He was also unable to make an impact as a deep threat. Going forward, the Saints need to re-establish Cooks as a deep target to get the DBs to give him more room and open up the short underneath stuff again.
Meachem’s first reception was on a beautiful deep ball that he was able catch while in stride and take it all the way into the end zone. His second reception was on a flea flicker play where the ball was slightly underthrown, but on target. This reception led to the final Saints touchdown.
Morgan's only catch on the day was the 80 yard touchdown discussed earlier, but it's interesting to note that it was him and not Devery Henderson (the assumed deep threat on the Saints) in on the play. Morgan showed separation speed and broke a weak tackle attempt on the long score.
Stills was targeted across the middle in the first drive. He was wide open releasing from the far left, after lining up immediately behind Colston. He ran a sharp pattern and continued with a nice run after the catch for a 16-yard gain to give the Saints a first and goal to go. Stills was again targeted on the Saints’ third possession breaking off his route right at the sticks, converting the first down. He caught another pass right on the sideline for a 6-yard gain and was targeted on the next play on a quick cross, but was well defended by Nolan Carroll.
Toon found an opening deep down the left sideline for an 18-yard catch on the Saints’ third possession.
Hall caught the only ball thrown his way and brought up a first down. He was not used in the passing game for the remainder of the day.
Conwell caught one of his four passes for five yards. He allowed one pass to slip through his hands and would have had a first down had he been able to hang on to the ball.
Graham got an early end around carry and gained the first down, but didn't show anything special on the carry.
Hill scored the first Saints TD of the game in the early 4th quarter. Brees faked a pitch left to Khiry Robinson and then rolled right as Hill blocked for a few seconds before releasing into the right flat, catching the dump down from Brees and walking untouched into the end zone.
Thomas had maybe the best catch of the day, snagging a bullet that was thrown behind him, but he couldn't hold on to a long one down the middle of the field with two defenders converging that could have given him a bigger day. He still ran tough after the catch and picked up three key first downs on the game-winning drive. Brees did not look much to Thomas until the game was on the line, so while there is trust there, Thomas will remain low in the team's pecking order for targets.
Watson caught a short pass for a 12-yard gain, but the play was lost by an offensive holding call. Watson finally caught a pass on a tight end screen and dove across the line right at the pylon for Brees’ third TD pass on the night.
Carney missed a 32 yard field goal attempt on the opening drive of the second half, but was otherwise perfect in the game. Carney accounted for the bulk of the Saints’ points with successful kicks of 23, 40, 20 and 37 yards. He also made his extra point attempt.
The Saints’ rush defense allowed 141 net rushing yards at an average of 4.3 yards per carry, but did enough to keep the team on top. Willis McGahee had success and scored on the opening drive, but he only carried the ball 16 times in the game as the Bills were unable to sustain drives due to poor quarterback play. The rush defense did manage to stop McGahee on third and short, and then forced the Bills to turn the ball over on downs when Dwight Smith stopped McGahee on a fourth down attempt.
The Saints did a good job of pressuring J.P. Losman, sacking him three times in the game. Charles Grant almost tackled Losman in the end zone before Losman was sacked by Darren Howard (twice) and Will Smith. Grant was very active in the game, ending with a sack and seven solo tackles. Jason Craft intercepted Losman after the Bills attempted to find Eric Moulds deep. The pass was badly overthrown and Craft made a simple interception. Kelly Holcomb replaced Losman with just over 13 minutes left in the game, but he was also ineffective, fumbling a snap (which he recovered) and later losing a fumble resulting from a sack by Charles Grant. The Bills were held to 67 net passing yards on the day.