Receivers step up for Bills in close loss

Posted Oct. 25, 2010 @ 6:17 p.m.
Posted By Eli Kaberon

Ravens PK Billy Cundiff drilled a 38-yard field goal with 11:01 remaining in overtime, handing the Bills their sixth consecutive loss to start the 2010 season. Buffalo had been leading by 14 points midway through the second quarter, but couldn't hold on in the second half, falling behind 34-24 by the end of the third period. A 10-point rally in the final 15 minutes pushed the game into OT, but a questionable fumble call on TE Shawn Nelson put Cundiff in position to win the game.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick continued to shred defenses, throwing for a career-high 374 yards and four touchdowns in the loss. After the game, the quarterback cited the team's four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles) as the deciding factor in the defeat.

"We have a talented offense and we've gotten into a rhythm the last few games," Fitzpatrick said to the Buffalo News. "We just have had bad plays that we need to stop making, that we need to quit shooting ourselves in the foot."

The PFW Spin

While the Ravens game is marked as another loss in the standings, the game was a win for one unit on the Bills: The receiving corps. Long considered one of the team's weaknesses, WRs Lee Evans, Stevie Johnson and Roscoe Parrish all played big roles in the offense's strong performance against the feared Ravens defense.

Evans had the best day of the three. The No. 1 wideout had 6-105-3 receiving vs. the Ravens, all of which were season-highs, re-emerging as the team's deep threat that had been missing early in the season. Each of the three touchdowns was a beautiful hookup between Fitzpatrick and Evans. First, a deep bomb down the sideline, then a quick slant between a pair of defenders, and finally a screen pass that required the receiver to beat one tackler before sprinting into the endzone. It is that kind of production the team was hoping for in 2010 from Evans, though much of the credit goes to Fitzpatrick, whose stronger arm and mobility are a much better fit for the team's offense than previous starter Trent Edwards.

But a top wideout can't do it alone. Thankfully for the Bills, Johnson and Parrish were more than adequate sidekicks for Evans against the Ravens. Each player caught eight passes, though Parrish, normally a deep threat, had only 49 yards while the team's regular between-the-numbers receiver, Johnson, had 158. Baltimore clearly wasn't prepared for the barrage of deep passes, as Johnson repeatedly crept behind defensive backs on long passes, including a 33-yard TD grab in the second quarter. Parrish, one of the fastest players on the team, wasn't able to break one deep, but kept the chains moving and worked the middle of the field well, allowing Johnson and Evans to put up the big numbers.

Head coach Chan Gailey has said in the past that the team needs to run the ball to be successful, and that very well may be true against run defenses that aren't on the Ravens' level. But on Sunday, Evans, Johnson and Parrish, along with Fitzpatrick, showed that if needed, the Bills can do a great job of moving it through the air.

Moving into the win column, however, still needs some work.