TORONTO – The way the Buffalo Bills played run defense Sunday, you’d have thought all their video of the Seattle Seahawks got lost in cyberspace.
Just two weeks ago, the Seahawks burned the Chicago Bears with read-option running plays. Quarterback Russell Wilson takes a shotgun snap, reads the defense, and either hands off to Marshawn Lynch up the middle or pulls it out of Lynch’s belly and keeps it himself for a sprint off tackle.
The Bills claimed they studied those tapes. They claimed they prepared for it all week.
What a waste of a week of practice.
Wilson and Lynch ran the option runs to perfection in burying the Bills, 50-17.
“We let down our fans, we let down the organization, we let down ourselves,” said Bills linebacker Bryan Scott. “It’s tough because it’s embarrassing. We practice so hard. But it’s embarrassing. I don’t even know what to say.”
The loss was the latest bad statement by the Bills’ players in support of embattled head coach Chan Gailey. Buffalo (5-9) was eliminated from playoff contention. The Bills became the first team since 1986 to give up 45 or more points four times in a season.
“We played poorly and it reflects poorly on him,” said quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. “It just eats me up.”
A crowd of roughly 35,000 (paid attendance was 40,770) at Rogers Centre saw the Bills lose for the fourth time in five Toronto games.
Seattle rushed for 270 yards on a Bills defense that had yielded only 78 rushing yards a game over the last five weeks.
Lynch rushed for 113 yards on just 10 carries against his former team. Wilson rushed for 92 on nine carries and scored three touchdowns.
“That is a type of offense run scheme that we’ve had trouble with this year,” said Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams. “They run that option, that zone read. Since the bye, conventional running games we’ve done some good things against. But we’ve had trouble with that zone read. To be able to defend that, you have to play very disciplined and we didn’t.”
The read-option runs killed the Bills early and often. On Seattle’s first drive, Wilson faked a Lynch run up the middle and ran around right end for a 14-yard touchdown.
Bills defensive end Mario Williams crashed down to tackle Lynch, safety George Wilson came hard on a blitz and got blocked, and Scott couldn’t get over quickly enough from his inside linebacker position to catch Wilson.
“The call we had on, it was take dive,” Mario Williams said of his responsibility on the play. “And there was nobody there to take the quarterback.
“All week we had it installed for us to take one or the other. You can not play them both. If you got two guys playing the back or two guys playing the quarterback, that’s the outcome.”
On Seattle’s next drive, Wilson scrambled 25 yards for a touchdown to put the Seahawks up, 14-0. Bills defensive end Kyle Moore rushed aggressively up the field and the fleet Wilson sprinted up the left sideline. The Bills’ defensive backs were in man coverage and had their backs turned to the play.
“You want to rush and throw a move, but if you get up [the field], he’s going to take off running,” Moore said.
In the middle of the second quarter, the Bills overplayed Wilson and let Lynch rumble 54 yards up the middle to the Buffalo 4. It set up a score that put Seattle ahead, 24-7. Bills linebacker Nick Barnett cheated too far to his left, thinking Wilson might keep it and run off tackle.
“Marshawn got one big run that was a mistake that was mostly me,” Barnett said. “I gotta play it to the B gap [between the guard and tackle], but I got a little too worried about the option. I’ve just gotta play my responsibility on that.”
The next drive was more of the same. Wilson faked to Lynch and burst around right end for a 13-yard score. This time it looked like Mario Williams bit too far in, and Scott couldn’t get over enough to catch the QB.
“I had the alley [inside], and then we’re supposed to have somebody outside,” Scott said. “If you don’t play that exactly the way it’s supposed to be played, you get in trouble. You have to be so disciplined.
“Wilson is such a good athlete. If you don’t get on him right now, and if guys don’t know where to go and what to do, he’s gonna slash you.”
The Bills defenders’ said they studied the Chicago video. Wilson burned the Bears for 71 yards in that game. Obviously, the message of defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt didn’t stick.
“Yeah, we worked against the read option,” Barnett said. “We spent a lot of time on it. We just didn’t execute it the way we needed to today.”
The Bills were within 31-17 at halftime. But Fitzpatrick threw an interception to Seattle’s K.J. Wright on a pass for tight end Scott Chandler. It set up Seattle at the Buffalo 20 and killed any thoughts of a comeback.
“That’s a play I’ve thrown a lot to Scott this year,” Fitzpatrick said. “The backside linebacker kind of snuck in and got it. It’s just one of those plays that I didn’t locate him till late.”
Fitzpatrick was 21 of 38 for 217 yards, and he missed a couple of open deep passes. Bills back C.J. Spiller rushed 17 times for 103 yards.
Seattle (9-5) won for the fifth time in six games.
“You get angry at yourself because you did not get the team ready to play at the level they needed to play to win the ballgame,” Gailey said. “When they do not play well, the buck stops with me.”