by Mario "Game" Granata
For 59 minutes on Sunday’s match-up with the Minnesota Vikings, the Buffalo Bills frustrated their fan base to the tune of being on the receiving end of an inevitable 16-10 loss. However, in dramatic fashion, Kyle Orton found Sammy Watkins in the end zone with a second left on the clock to secure a 17-16 victory to move the Bills to 4-3 on the season. Here are some Extra Points to think about going into Week 8
Kyle Orton: For 3 plus quarters, much of the Bills fans were hoping that the Bills would go back to EJ Manuel for some sort of spark as the Bills offense could only muster up 10 offensive points. However, the veteran savvy of Kyle Orton prevailed, as on the final drive he maintained his cool and was able to secure a game winning drive for the Bills. After not having a quarterback throw for more than 300 yards in 27 games, Kyle Orton has managed 890 in the last three, giving the Bills, and their fans, some hope for a playoff run by the end of the 2014 season.
Turnover and Penalties: If you were to tell someone that the Bills committed 4 turnovers in a game, it would be very unlikely that they were able to win the game. However, two Leodis MeKelvin interceptions at opportune times served to rejuvenate the Buffalo Bills and keep them in the game. This is something that needs to be noted as well as the number of penalties that the Bills committed. They stayed true to their average (8-48) but in order for them to maintain some consistent success; they need to be more disciplined.
Dixon is Loose: The Bills lost both CJ Spiller (collarbone) and Fred Jackson (groin) in this game, leaving Anthony “Boobie” Dixon alone in the backfield. It is a bit ironic that the injuries that Spiller and Jackson sustained, since Dixon shouldered the load and showed some cojones being asked to carry the Bills running game. Although his stat line wasn’t overly impressive (13-51) he kept the Vikings honest, which opened up some passing lanes for the receivers and allowed Orton to complete 72% of his passes.
Let Them Run: This marks the first time all year that the Buffalo Bills allowed a 100-yard rusher, and it seems even more impressive that the Bills haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown all year. Looking at the statistics, the Bills defense allow opposing rushers to gain an average of 69.7 yards per game in their 4 victories, and 33 yards per game in their 3 losses. Should Schwartz take his foot off the gas and concentrate on shaping up that secondary?
Marcell the Great: Keeping with the defensive performance, Marcell Dareus with 2 sacks today, has 5 in the last 3 games, and 7 in the last 5. He is truly a force to be reckoned with, and anchoring a line that needs to be recognized across the entire NFL, not just in the 716.
Offensive Line: As reported on Hashtag Sports in the preseason, Cyrus Kouandjio, who had trouble at right tackle, should be moved into guard. Coming from Alabama he has some extensive experience run blocking, and for the Bills to make a run, they can’t shoulder all the responsibility on Orton throwing the ball. The Bills run game has to take off, and they have to gain some sort of balance to keep momentum going.
Nathaniel Still Can’t Hackett: Another article that can be read on Hashtag Sports, highlights the inability of Nathaniel Hackett to explore the creativity of the talented pieces that he has been given. 13 of Orton’s 31 completions were to the running backs and the tight ends, leaving Robert Woods and Mike Williams to question the play calling. Much like the Detroit game, Orton seemed to take control and called some audibles at the line, and the Bills started to move the ball. With Spiller and Jackson out, Hackett’s inability to dial up anything that would be successful was evident in the 3rd quarter, and would have stayed that way until Orton took the reigns in the 4th. Bryce Brown will inevitably be activated with Spiller out for the year, and Jackson needing 2-4 weeks (projected) to heal. All signs point to Hackett. Bills offense struggled; they went with a new quarterback. Bills offense still struggled, they lose Spiller and Jackson, and then they were a bit anemic. The only constant has been Hackett, and if the Bills limp into the bye week at 4-4, Hackett shouldn’t make any long term plans in Buffalo. At least the outcry for Spiller to get more touches has been quelled for now…just for now.