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Bills' offense humming with impressive line play

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Sept. 19, 2011 @ 10:16 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

When the Bills opened the season with a 41-7 win over the Chiefs, the biggest question was this: Are the Bills that good, or are the Chiefs that bad?

At halftime of both games on Sunday, it looked like the latter was true. The Lions led the Chiefs 20-3, and the Bills trailed the Raiders at home 21-3. It appeared the Bills had taken advantage of a very bad Kansas City team and that Buffalo was not as improved as everyone thought.

Well, five second-half touchdowns later, the Bills were 2-0 and are now the talk of the NFL. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick guided the Bills downfield with a banged-up receiving corps, RBs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller had big runs and rookie SS Da'Norris Searcy sealed the game by intercepting a Hail Mary pass.

While Fitzpatrick and Jackson will get most of the attention this week leading into a Week Three bout with the Patriots, it's the offensive line that deserves some love for the Bills' early success.

The PFW Spin

Coming into the season, we knew that the Bills could have success in Chan Gailey's spread attack, as long as Fitzpatrick had time to throw and there were holes for Jackson and Spiller to run through. Unfortunately for the Bills, that was a giant "if," as no changes were made to the O-line in the offseason, a unit that struggled last season.

Through two games, the Bills have allowed one sack, tied with the Raiders for the second-fewest sacks allowed. The Lions, meanwhile, have yet to surrender a takedown of Matthew Stafford.

On Sunday, Buffalo faced an Oakland defense that was second in the league with 47 sacks last season, but they couldn't get to Fitzpatrick to bring him to the turf.

The offensive line is a big reason that the Bills have the league's best rushing attack through two games. Three big runs in Sunday's comeback win particularly stood out:

  • Fred Jackson's 34-yard run in the first quarter got help from C Eric Wood and ORG Kraig Urbik, but it was a block from TE Scott Chandler, who is making headlines for his receiving ability, that opened a huge hole.
  • OLG Andy Levitre, OLT Demetrius Bell and Chandler, again, were instrumental in holding their blocks and getting to the second level on Jackson's 43-yard TD run to open the second half.
  • Wood and ORG Chad Rinehart, who had replaced an injured Urbik, had solid blocks on Spiller's 26-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.

The Raiders rarely blitzed, rushing four most of the game, until the Bills' final drive, when they came after Fitzpatrick. The line held. On 4th-and-5, Oakland brought six after Fitz, and he threaded the needle to Donald Jones. On the game-winning TD, the Raiders brought five after Fitz, who hit David Nelson in the endzone.

The Bills get their stiffest test all season on Sunday — against the Patriots, whose offense has been extremely proficient through two games. We know Buffalo will give up points, but Bills fans should be very hopeful about the early play from the O-line, which is allowing Gailey's offense to blossom, leading to an exciting season for a city that has waited a long time for something to cheer about.


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