ReFo: Rams @ Bills, Week 14
Just as it seemed to be doing in every outdoor stadium, it was raining in Buffalo. And, while it made for some interesting plays (especially on special teams), it also made for some struggles offensively, as the Rams and Bills collectively averaged under 3.0 yards per carry. In the end, St. Louis overcame the inclement weather in the fourth quarter just long enough to drive 84 yards for what ended up being the game-winning touchdown. This home loss means the Bills are all but eliminated from the playoff chase. And while they definitely have some very talented players, the front office in Buffalo will likely spend the offseason wondering what went wrong, and if perhaps it’s time to start looking in a different direction at quarterback.
The Rams came away with a hard-fought victory, but they’re no lock for the postseason. At 6-6-1, they’ll need a few other teams to start losing, but as head coach Jeff Fisher said in pregame, they have some work to do. They’ve taken some positive strides this year, and even if they are on the outside looking in come January, they’ll still have a solid foundation to build upon in 2013.
St. Louis – Three Performances of Note
He’s had a slow start since coming back from injury in Week 4, but first-round pick Michael Brockers (+6.8) put together his best game of the season. He had little trouble shedding the blocks of Buffalo’s makeshift offensive line, recording career highs in tackles (five) and stops (six) and tying his career high in QB disruptions (five). He did all of this on his just 38 plays, his second-lowest snap count of the season (though that was mostly due to the low play count of the Bills’ offense). He was so destructive that both LT Cordy Glenn and Andy Levitre were handed their lowest grades of the season. Brockers still hasn’t missed a tackle since his debut in Week 4, and if he can consistently play anywhere near this level in the future the Rams look to have struck gold in the draft.
A Wide Range of Receivers
With the perpetually banged-up Danny Amendola out yet again, it was up to Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens to step up their game. And while Givens (-2.4) was actually targeted more (10 times), he racked up a paltry 25 yards and added a couple of dropped passes in the rain. Gibson (+3.7) responded to the call with the first 100-yard game of his career, catching six balls for an even hundred. He made several plays down the stretch as well, securing a crucial first down on the Rams’ final drive, before reeling in the go-ahead touchdown. For Gibson, the challenge will be to string good performances together, because St. Louis’ passing game is devoid of playmakers without Amendola in the mix.
Solid but not Spectacular Day for Kendricks
Often nearly invisible on the stat sheet, Lance Kendricks had a solid day contributing for the Rams. His 36 receiving yards aren’t going to blow you away, but he picked up a couple of first downs, including a fantastic catch to move the chains on the game-winning drive. He was perfect in his seven snaps in pass protection (more than Wayne Hunter can say about his seven) despite getting a few one-on-one matchups with defensive ends, and he did enough in the running game to help out. Surely St. Louis was hoping for a bit more in the receiving game when they spend a second-round pick on him, but they can’t be too disappointed in what they saw from the former Badger in this one.
Buffalo – Three Performances of Note
Coming in as one of the least pressure quarterbacks in the league, Ryan Fitzpatrick (-3.2) was in for a rude awakening. It can’t as come as too much of a surprise, with injuries taking their toll on the line, but Fitzpatrick saw pressure on 15 of his 41 drop-backs (36.6%). Five of his eight incompletions came on those drop-backs, and Fitz was sacked five times. Oddly enough, the main culprit wasn’t David Snow, the undrafted free agent who had played only eight snaps prior to this week — it was second-round pick Cordy Glenn (-2.7 pass block). And though Glenn did give up two sacks, one hit, and two hurries, he certainly wasn’t alone — all five offensive linemen gave up at least one pressure.
The Duo in the Middle
While all the hype over interior defensive linemen seems to be focused in Houston, there are a couple of players in Buffalo who once again quietly went about dominating the opposition. No one seems to be talking about just how good Kyle Williams (+3.8) is, recording his eighth straight grade in the green since the Bills’ debacle in San Francisco. He tallied four pressures and was a nuisance in the running game with three stops. Spending much of the game to Williams’ immediate left, Marcel Dareus (+2.9) added three pressures and tipped a pass. They were a large part of why the Rams mustered only 2.7 yards per carry between the tackles.
Bringing up the Back End
Tying Williams for the team lead with three stops, George Wilson (4.1) earned his positive grade mostly for his stellar work in coverage. Though he was in primary coverage on only one of Sam Bradford’s passing attempts, he deflected two other passes on the Rams’ final drive and nearly came away with a turnover each time. While he played as well as any Bills defender, Wilson will probably spend the next few days thinking about those chances to close out the game for his team.
— Janoris Jenkins was tied for second on the team with four stops, despite missing five tackles.
— The Rams opted to pass on 34 of the 43 snaps that nickel linebacker Bryan Scott was on the field.
— Bradford threw just 40% of his passes between the numbers, compared to the 58% for Fitzpatrick.
PFF Game Ball
He played only 38 snaps, but Michael Brockers made them count and was too much for the Bills’ ragtag offensive line.