So close yet so far. How often will we write that about the Bills of 2010?
They again played well in parts and again put themselves in a position to win. But they couldn’t. And now at 0-8 things are getting serious. They may be playing better than winless teams usually do, but there’s no guarantee this won’t keep up.
Chicago will be much happier about its time in Toronto, with a strong defensive showing lifting it to a record many wouldn’t think possible given the state of the offensive line. By hook or by crook, the Bears are playoff contenders — and in this NFL year of surprises, anything is possible.
Bears: Three performances of note
Ignore the sack stats. This may be as well as Julius Peppers (+4.9) has ever played. Fully justifying his contract, Peppers is doing everything the Bears could have wanted from their defensive end even if the numbers don’t quite add up. Peppers’ work in run defense has been utterly immense and this game wasn’t any different. Two defensive stops and continually beating his man have become trademarks for Peppers this year, while he’s still getting pressure. He hit the quarterback three times and pressured him a further four in as complete a display as you’re likely to see.
The problems, however, continue on the offensive line. The right side especially had a really tough day, with the returning Roberto Garza (-5.4) just as bad as J’Marcus Webb (-4.5). Garza was left faced with a Buffalo interior playing some inspired football all too often, while Webb again struggled with his pass protection (not that his run blocking was much better). Between them they gave up a sack and seven pressures, and when you throw in the abuse Chris Williams (-3.4) took at left guard, you get a line that gave up 15 quarterback disruptions.
And on a convenient note, we’ll end with the return of Canada’s own Israel Idonije (+2.8). Idonije was playing with some fire, picking up a sack, three quarterback hits and four quarterback pressures while also blocking an extra point. Big day, even if he wasn’t great in run defense.
Bills: Three performances of note
For regular Bills readers this won’t come as a surprise. Kyle Williams (+5.8) was blooming awesome. So awesome he deserves to enter into the chatter for Defensive Player of the Year. That’s how good he has been, and this was another display of dominance. A hit and a pressure aren’t huge figures, but he constantly got upfield and was superb in run defense. He picked up a further four defensive stops as the Bears couldn’t run up the gut.
We normally love watching Fred Jackson (-3.3), but this wasn’t a great day for him. He only picked up 2 yards per carry (though 15 of his 16 yards came after contact) and was unable to deal with a ferocious Bears defense. Furthermore, he gave up a quarterback hit and dropped a pass in a display that may get us more of C.J. Spiller.
Back to defense, and on what was generally a good day for defensive players, one man stuck out for the wrong reasons. Leodis McKelvin (-3.5) was the chief target for Jay Cutler‘s passes, allowing six of the eight thrown his way to be complete for 84 yards and a touchdown. He had particular difficulty with Earl Bennett in this one.
We’ve mentioned the struggles of Webb, and only two other rookies saw action. Barry Turner (-0.1) spelled the starting defensive ends if contributing nothing else, while Major Wright (+0.1) had a quiet time during his one series in the game.
Right tackle Cord Howard (-1.9) had a tricky time before his troublesome shoulder gave way and he left the game. Regardless, this was the most assured he has looked. … Spiller (+1.4) gave the offense a boost when he came in for his 21 snaps. … Fourth receiver David Nelson (+0.4) did nothing wrong during his 22 snaps in four-receiver sets. … On defense, Terrell Troup (+0.2) saw little action but picked up a quarterback pressure. … Outside linebacker Arthur Moats (+1.0) notched three quarterback pressures on 17 pass plays.
The seven quarterback pressures achieved by Chris Kelsay in this game were one less than he managed in the previous seven games of the season. … Blitz me, please — Cutler completed 75 percent of his passes for 9.4 yards per attempt when the Bills blitzed.