ReFo: Bills @ Lions, Week 5
Jim Schwartz got a revenge of sorts on his return to Detroit as the Buffalo defense held the Lions to just 14 points. It could have been more, had Alex Henery not missed a trio of field goals including a potential game-winner, but his struggles should come as no surprise considering his performances for the Eagles.
In fact, Schwartz’s unit gave up just seven points with the other touchdown coming on an interception return by Rashean Mathis. The Bills’ offense also got into the end zone just the solitary time but were able to tie the game with a two-point conversion. That setup a grandstand finish which saw Henery miss from 50, a ridiculous one handed catch by Sammy Watkins and an equally impressive 58-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter for the win. Let’s take a look at some individual performances:
Buffalo Bills – Performances of Note
Cyril Richardson, LG: -10.7
Breakdown: The NFL will only get easier for Richardson who has had to face JJ Watt, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in his first two NFL starts. The rookie fifth-rounder out of Baylor simply had no answer to the strength and quickness of the Lions’ interior duo, struggling in pass protection and in the run game in equal measure. In pass pro he gave up three hits in 45 drop-backs but was twice beaten immediately off the snap only to be saved by checkdowns by Kyle Orton. There was no respite in the run game either as Richardson allowed three tackles around the line of scrimmage. Oh, and with three penalties conceded, things can only go up from here for the Baylor product.
Signature Play: Richardson hardly gets his hands on Fairley on one play in pass protection with 2.32 to go in the second quarter. The former first-round pick puts a wicked move to the outside and the rookie is left thinking how no one in college could pull that off.
Sammy Watkins, WR: +3.2
Breakdown: Watkins has enjoyed a mixed start to life in the NFL already recording two games below -3.0 and two above +3.0. This game fell into the latter category as the fourth overall pick this year showed why he was drafted so high. Watkins needed to bounce back after a three-drop game against the Texans and he did to the tune of seven receptions (on 12 targets) for 87 yards. The stat line doesn’t record ridiculous catches, though, and Watkins had two of them. The first was a one-hander on an in-route which Orton put too far out in front of him. Watkins settled the pass with his right hand before managing to corral it with his left with a defender draped all over him. The best, though, was yet to come (see below). With positive contributions as a blocker (in the screen and run game) this was a complete performance by Watkins.
Signature Play: With the game on the line and just 21 seconds on the clock Orton fired a deep pass to Watkins which was overthrown. The ball looked as if it would fall harmlessly incomplete and overtime would ensue, but, out of nowhere, Watkins was able to reach up with his right arm and bat the pass into his path while running at full speed. The play picked up 20 yards and Carpenter had his shot at the game-winner.
Jerry Hughes, DRE: +4.2
Breakdown: While Mario Williams had a quiet game on one side, Hughes simply took over on the other. Much of Marcell Dareus’ success was down to the disruption provided by the former first-rounder by the Colts. Hughes flashed his power, in particular, bull rushing left tackle Riley Reiff on a number of occasions. Overall as a pass rusher he recorded three sacks, a hit and three hurries in 32 rushes. It was more of a mixed game for Hughes in run defense as he recorded one tackle around the line of scrimmage but also lost contain on an outside run. All told, if Hughes is in this form and Williams can play as he did in the first few weeks, this Bills’ defense will continue to be fearsome.
Signature Stat: Hughes is currently fifth amongst 4-3 defensive ends in pass rush productivity (10.6).
Detroit Lions – Performances of Note
Rob Sims, LG: -4.4
Sunday proved a terrible game for left guards as, although Sims’ performance was not on the same level as Richardson’s, it was pretty poor by normal standards. In pass protection Sims allowed a sack, hit and two hurries in 43 drop-backs all of which came on stunts. The aforementioned Hughes had success on a couple as did Dareus. Sims also made a negative contribution in the run game (-1.8) as he had trouble on a couple of pull blocks. In general he works better as an in-line blocker lacking the athleticism to function effectively in space.
Signature Stat: Sims is currently 48th of 56 qualifying guards in pass blocking efficiency.
Ndamukong Suh (+2.6), Nick Fairley (+0.0) and C.J. Mosley (+2.1), DTs
Breakdown: Surprisingly it was Mosley who proved the most effective on a per-snap basis for the Lions. The former Jaguar recorded a +2.1 grade on just 23 snaps. Quite why the Jags decided to let him go remains unclear and just $2.75 million over two years is a bargain for a quality backup defensive lineman. Mosley recorded a hit and had another quick pressure that only went unrecorded due to Orton’s quick release. He also added a stop in the run game. Suh and Fairley meanwhile combined for four defensive stops and added two hits and a hurry as pass rushers. The latter’s grade (0.0) was predominantly the result of a pair of penalties.
Signature Stat: Suh, Fairley and Mosley are all in the top third of defensive tackles in terms of pass rush productivity.
Ashlee Palmer, SLB: +1.9
Breakdown: By now you’re all likely to have seen that video of Stephen Tulloch injuring himself celebrating. Well his replacement Palmer put in a strong game against the Bills in his first start of the season. Overall in his 26 snaps he recorded a pair of stops on 12 run plays, to go with a sack on six rushes and no receptions allowed in coverage. In contrast, Tahir Whitehead (+0.3) only just graded positively struggling in particular in coverage. While he may not be the fashionable choice, Palmer’s dependability could act as a great asset for the Lions.
Signature Play; Late in the third quarter (2.38) Orton targeted his tightend deep down the seam. While Palmer wasn’t able to get his head around he was able to remain in the lane and crucially avoided contacting Scott Chandler so as to avoid conceding a pass interference penalty.
PFF Game Ball
There are no real standout candidates but for his amazing play in the clutch Sammy Watkins thoroughly deserves this accolade.