Grading the Bills
RUNNING GAME: A+
The Bills rushed for a season-high 232 yards. Fred Jackson ran for 109 yards, his first triple-digit game in nearly 13 months. C.J. Spiller had trouble generating electricity on his first 12 carries then crackled on a 44-yard touchdown to put the game away in the fourth quarter. Even the Wildcat worked for a change: Brad Smith ran twice for 28 yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick scored on a 1-yard sneak.
PASSING GAME: C+
If you didn’t watch the game and just glanced at the box score, then Fitzpatrick’s stat line wouldn’t dazzle you. His 112 yards were the fewest he’s passed for since December 2009, when he threw for 86 against the Chiefs. But Fitzpatrick connected when he had to. He hit T.J. Graham on a 51-yard bomb to set up their first TD and spotted Scott Chandler and Stevie Johnson on short tosses into the end zone.
RUN DEFENSE: A-
For the third straight week, the Bills held an opponent to fewer than 90 yards rushing. The Bills kept the Jaguars to 50 yards on the ground. They would get an A+ here had the competition been more respectable. Maurice Jones-Drew missed his sixth straight game, Jordan Todman was inactive and starter Rashad Jennings was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the first quarter.
PASS DEFENSE: B
The Bills’ secondary battled valiantly. Aaron Williams missed his fourth straight game because of a knee injury, and Leodis McKelvin left in the first quarter because his back seized up. Jags quarterback Chad Henne had been warm the previous two games, but the Bills held him to 44 percent completions, intercepted him once, broke up nine passes and sacked him four times. Seven penalties in the secondary keep this grade from an A.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B+
Rian Lindell was allowed to try a 50-yard field goal, and he made it. Shawn Powell punted well in the December bluster. Marcus Easley’s first NFL touch was a 55-yard kickoff return. Smith went 38 yards on his kickoff return. Justin Rogers, however, muffed a punt at the 5-yard line in the fourth quarter, and the Jags scored a touchdown one play later. Buffalo’s coverage units were solid.
Chan Gailey didn’t need to do anything cute. With rain falling and winds gusting, the game plan screamed for repeated handoffs. Buffalo ran a season-high 46 times and threw a season-low 17 times. Defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt played the short routes on third down, a strategy that helped Buffalo stop Jacksonville on third down 10 out of 11 times and all three times on fourth down.
Grading the Jaguars
RUNNING GAME: D+
Jacksonville was in enough trouble with Jennings in the game. He entered Week 12 with a 2.8-yard average. He had just 20 yards on eight carries Sunday. When he got hurt, Jacksonville had to scrape the bottom of its depth chart. Montell Owens — the third-string tailback and backup fullback — came in and gained 29 yards on seven carries.
PASSING GAME: D+
Henne was 18 of 41 for 208 yards, one touchdown and one interception (57.8 rating). With his marginal mobility, Buffalo’s defensive line teed off at times. Mario Williams had a strip sack, and three other Bills D-linemen had at least half a sack. Jacksonville was hampered when deep threat Cecil Shorts left in the fourth quarter with a head injury.
RUN DEFENSE: F
Jacksonville had the NFL’s 29th-rated run defense, allowing an average of 136 yards a game. Buffalo nearly beat that number by another hundred. Jacksonville allowed Buffalo to run for 158 yards in the final two quarters. Buffalo rushed for 14 first downs and converted five of its first eight third-down situations – four of them on runs.
PASS DEFENSE: D+
The Jaguars ranked 28th in pass defense and were without starting right cornerback Derek Cox. The long ball to Graham sailed over third-stringer Kevin Rutland’s head. Paul Posluszny snared a Fitzpatrick interception, but Jacksonville didn’t register a sack, had only two quarterback hits and broke up three passes. Fitzpatrick had only nine completions, but six of them were either first downs or touchdowns.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
The Bills traded up two spots in the draft to select Graham. The player the Jaguars took after him was punter Bryan Anger. On five kicks in rough weather Sunday, he fared well, dropping the ball at the Bills’ 12-, 11- and 6-yard lines. Quan Cosby gained 99 yards on five kickoff returns.
COACHING : D+
The Jaguars weren’t inspired by Mike Mularkey’s return to Buffalo. They were limp for much of the game and could hear the bus’ engine running early in the fourth quarter. They fumbled three times and were undisciplined at times. An unnecessary roughness call in the second quarter backed them from the 5-yard line and led to a field goal instead of a TD.