Lang on NFL: Bills in T.O. report card

December 17, 2012, 3:45 AM

The latest edition of the Bills in Toronto series had little to do with the Bills and everything to do with the Seattle Seahawks. More to the point, it had a lot to do with the Seahawks amazing rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.

In fact, Wilson was the best thing about the 2012 edition of the Bills in Toronto series. He passed for 205 yards and one touchdown, while running for 92 yards and three more scoress in the Seahawks 50-17 trouncing of the Bills.

Receiver Sidney Rice caught four passes for 76 yards and tried to explain what makes the Seahawks quarterback so special.

“He extends plays. He is one of the most attentive and pays attention to every single thing. He’s trying to figure out anyway to get better. Whether it be coaching up the receivers and running backs or his film study, it doesn’t even matter. He’s one of the best. That’s the kind of guy you want leading your offence this late in the season.”

Led by Wilson, the Seahawks have won five of their past six games, and to coach Pete Carroll nothing his rookie quarterback does surprises a whole lot anymore.

“For a long time we were just trying to get our offence going, and not screw it up. And make sure that he could keep growing and taking positive steps. Well, we’re past that now. We know whatever we’re calling, something good can happen. He showed great poise throwing that ball away — those are huge decisions for a young quarterback. He’s got it nailed. I’m thrilled about he’s doing, more than surprised."

“You have to play one game at a time, one practice at a time, like I always say. We’re doing that right now and guys are making tremendous plays,” says Wilson.

The disparity between the raw talent and the skill level of Wilson and the more experienced Ryan Fitzpatrick is shocking. In Wilson, the Seahawks have a dynamic young quarterback who has inspired his team and their fans while leading them to the playoffs. In Fitzpatrick, the Bills have a mistake-prone quarterback who makes bad reads, bad throws and doesn’t appear capable of leading his team to the playoffs.

An absolute steal in the third round of the 2012 draft, Wilson is exactly the kind of quarterback the Bills need. Not only is Wilson a good passer, he is a great runner and, unlike Fitzpatrick, he has only thrown one interception in his past six games.

The Seahawks made NFL history with their win over the Bills. According to the NFL (@RLiuNFL), the Seahawks are the first team to score 50 points in back-to-back games in the same season since the 1950 New York Giants.

“I don’t think our guys did anything spectacular today — we just did our job and executed across the board,” said Carroll.

Maybe after scoring 50 points in two-straight games the Seahawks will receive more national attention. The players don’t think it will happen and, according to Rice, they don’t care.

“They don’t give us credit over in the northwest. But that’s fine. We’re going to continue to do what we do as Seahawks players and come to show up every game.”

While the Seahawks are driving towards the playoffs, the Bills were officially eliminated from the post-season on Sunday. This means the Bills will add one more year to the NFL’s longest playoff drought, which stretches back to the 1999 season.

General Manager Buddy Nix has a long way to go before the Bills will be in the same league as the Seahawks. Whether that means getting a new coach, a new quarterback or both; something has to be done to make this team better.

It’s time to hand out the grades after another ugly performance by the Bills.

Quarterbacks: F

Forget about his passing yards, once again Ryan Fitzpatrick picked the worst possible time to throw the ball to other team. Trailing 31-17 at halftime, Fitzpatrick killed any kind of momentum the Bills might have had when he made two bad throws that resulted in interceptions by the Seahawks defence.

Earl Thomas returned his interception 57 yards for a touchdown and Marshawn Lynch scored from 13 yards out two plays after the other pick. On top of that, Fitzpatrick fumbled the ball on a strip sack by Chris Clemons and the Seahawks ended up kicking a field goal off of that turnover.

A total of 17 points off of three Fitzpatrick turnovers neded any thoughts that the Bills might be able to make a game of it.

“It felt like we had a little bit of momentum," said Fitzpatrick. "We came out and I had the interception. We kind of lost all the momentum that we had and went downhill from there fast."

Running backs: B

It isn’t C.J. Spiller’s fault the Bills got embarrassed at Rogers Centre. Spiller cracked the 100 yard barrier and also become the 12th running back in the history of the Bills to go over 1,000 yards in a season. Not that any of that mattered to Spiller after the game: “At the end of the day, we didn’t get our job done and we lost the game.”

Receivers and tight ends: B

The blowout loss over-shadowed an excellent performance from receiver Stevie Johnson. Not only did Johnson crack the 100 yard barrier against a good Seahawks defence, he also made a spectacular one-handed catch early in the third quarter.

None of that mattered to Johnson as he spoke to reporters after the game; he was still hurting from another loss. Johnson said there’s still a lot to prove in the final two weeks of the season.

“Whether its playoffs or no playoffs, what kind of man are you? Do you play the game for the money or do you play this game for the competition? We’ll see what happens these next two weeks.”

Offensive line: C

Even though Spiller ran for 103 yards, Chris Clemons and the Seahawks front seven sacked Fitzpatrick three times and hit him another four. But it wasn’t the offensive line’s fault that their quarterback threw two interceptions or that the defence couldn’t stop Wilson and or Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.

Defensive line and linebackers: F

That might have been the easiest 100-yard game of Marshawn Lynch’s career. There were too many times when Lynch was completely untouched as he ran through the line of scrimmage. So much so that Lynch averaged 11.3 yards per carry.

There were also times when Wilson made the Bills front seven look downright silly with his ability to run and execute play fakes.

“He’s not a slow quarterback at all. If gets the edge on you, you got to go out there and chase him,” said Bills defensive end Kyle Moore. “You don’t know if he’s going to take off in your gap. You want to rush and throw a move but if you get up he’s going to take off running. He did it a couple of times today.”

Secondary: C

The problem with the secondary is that they spent most of the day trying to make up for the mistakes of the front seven. With Wilson and Lynch running wild, safety George Wilson lead the Bills with 10 tackles. With all of that running Wilson was able to make some big plays down field.

“They kept us off balance all day,” Wilson commented after the game.

Special teams: C

The Bills special teams were a non-factor up until the Seahawks burned them for 29 yards on a fake punt late in the game. Shawn Powell had a solid day punting the ball while kicker Rian Lindell nailed his one and only field goal attempt.

Coaching: F

Chan Gailey and defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt helplessly watched as Russell Wilson ran circles around the Bills defence all game long. Then again, Gailey helplessly watched the Seahawks do a lot of things in this game.

From defence to offence, and even in special teams, Pete Carroll out-coached Chan Gailey every step of the way. Afterwards, Gailey perfectly summed up his team’s performance against the Seahawks: “We played bad. We played poorly. If you play poorly against a good football team, you are going to look extremely bad. We played poorly and we looked extremely bad.”

It’s a refrain that is all too common for Bills fans as they deal with another lost season.

What’s next

The Bills travel to Miami next week before wrapping up their season at Ralph Wilson Stadium on the 30th when the host the Jets.


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