For a coach like Chan Gailey, who loves to throw the football, he utilized a decidedly “old school” gameplan in the Bills 35-17 beat down of the Chiefs at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Led by another strong performance from running back C.J. Spiller, the Bills ran the ball 36 times for a total of 201 yards against the beleaguered Chiefs defence. Spiller accounted for 123 yards, scoring two touchdowns on the ground and adding three receptions for 47 yards. The Clemson product’s speed in the open field gave the Chiefs’ defence fits all day.
“Watching C.J. in the open field is such a great thing,” said quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. "You just sit back there, hand it off and have him get those big chunk runs and that really got us going up front too.”
The upside to the Bills’ success on the ground was that Fitzpatrick only had to throw the ball 19 times. If Gailey has his way, Bills fans can expect a lot more “old school” football.
“We would rather be a physical team that throws it when they have to or throws it on surprise situations," said Gailey. "That is what we would rather be. We will continue to work down this path as much as we can.”
Translation: We will run the ball as much as humanly possible because the more we run, the less Fitzpatrick has to pass and the less chance there is of turning the ball over. If running the ball more and limiting Fitzpatrick’s pass attempts translates into wins, Bills fans will take it.
This was an equally big game for the Bills’ defensive line, as they sacked Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel five times and held running back Jamaal Charles to three yards rushing.
The game was especially important for defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Earlier in the week, Dareus had to fly home to attend the funeral of his younger brother following a tragic shooting incident. Playing with a heavy heart, Dareus was a key contributor in the win recording one sack, two tackles for losses and a one quarterback hit.
After the game an emotional Dareus said he won’t soon forget the ovation he received from Bills fans when he was introduced at the start of the game.
“I felt like Buffalo fans are the greatest fans in the NFL. They support us when we’re down and we’re up; it doesn’t matter,” said Dareus. “They made me feel welcome today and I really enjoyed it and I really, really needed it.”
Chan Gailey was impressed to see Dareus in the lineup and playing the way he did.
“It is amazing and I am so proud of our football team for rallying around him.”
The man lining up beside Dareus nearly every down, Kyle Williams, said everyone in the Bills locker-room loves Dareus as much as he loves them.
“I think he’s as important to this team as anybody. He’s a guy we all care about a great deal and he felt a sense of that he needed to here and he wanted to play," Williams said. "The guy not only cares about the game, but he cares about his teammates. I think that’s why we care so much about him.”
“I just want everyone to keep my family in their prayers," added Dareus. "We have to push through the season with the Bills and my family is going to rally behind us and be there.”
Grading the Bills
Quarterback — B
While Ryan Fitzpatrick made some decent throws, he also bounced a number of passes into the turf with receivers wide open. Fitzpatrick surprised everyone by running four times for 34 yards, including a 20 yard romp that helped set up one of Spiller’s two touchdowns. The most impressive thing about Fitzpatrick’s performance was that it was turnover free, his first since a win over the Broncos last year in week 16.
Running Backs — A+
Running back CJ Spiller spearheaded a Bills running game that shredded the Chiefs defence. Spiller’s top end speed in the open field separates him from most running backs in the NFL.
“C.J. does a great of hitting the hole. We tell him all the time we’ll get him to the safeties you make them miss, and he did a great job today,” said centre Eric Wood.
“It all starts with preparation,” added Spiller. “I do the same thing every week; I read hard and run hard at practice. It really is just translating it on Sundays.”
Receivers — B
Through no fault of their own, the Bills receivers took a back seat to the heroics of Spiller. They were also on the receiving end of some passes from Fitzpatrick that were uncatchable. When Fitzpatrick was on target, the Bills receivers made a number of key plays, including Stevie Johnson’s 49 yard touchdown in the third quarter.
“All I seen was the far safety and I made one cut and put the jets on and got into the end zone,” said Johnson.
Offensive Line — A
One of the main reasons Spiller ran for so many yards was the holes the offensive line was opening for him throughout the game. Not only did the Bills run for over 200 yards as a team, but the line didn’t allow a single sack.
Centre Eric Wood said it was extremely important for the Bills to have this kind of game, especially in the home opener: “You got to defend your own turf in this league and any time you can win like this in this league it’s pretty special. These don’t come that often.”
Defensive line/Linebackers — A
Kyle Williams had a superb day, registering his first two-sack game since November 2010. Williams added two tackles for losses and two more quarterback hits as the Bills front four had a strong bounce back game after last week’s brutal effort against the Jets.
“This week we were able to do some better things on first and second down, keep them in third and six, seven and plus and that’s when we should get off the field and make plays,” said Williams after the game.
Secondary — B-
Chiefs’ quarterback Matt Cassel threw for 301 yards, but most of that was in garbage time with the game already out of reach.
The Bills secondary got a bit of scare when safety George Wilson got hit in the head, forcing him to the locker-room for evaluations. At the time it didn’t look like the 31-year-old would be able to make it back. However, Wilson insists he was feeling fine at the end of halftime and still felt good after the game.
Wilson said the Bills trainers and medical staff put him through the ringers before allowing him back on the field: “They quizzed me on where I was lined up at, what was the play called, what was the pass that they threw, who was it. They took me through the whole gamut and I passed everything.”
Special Teams — A
Not much to complain about here, especially when Leodis McKelvin rips off an 88 yard punt return for a touchdown. “I just got past that first wall, that first wave, and everything else was to the end zone,” said McKelvin. Meanwhile Mr. Automatic, punter Brian Moorman, averaged 49.9 yards per kick.
Coaching — A
Give Chan Gailey some credit. For a coach who loves to throw the ball, he decided to switch things up and ran the ball far more than anyone expected. “I thought our guys were pretty physical coming off the football and we were able to establish the run game extremely well early in the game,” said Gailey.
The Bills will attempt to improve to 2-1 next week in Cleveland when they face the Browns. After that they host the Patriots on the 30th.