The Bills surprised over 95% of the population when they upset the Green Bay Packers who have in recent weeks looked nearly unstoppable. They won 21-13 on the backs of their defense and special teams which picked up the slack for a really horrendous offense. This puts the Bills at 8-6 and their first non-losing record since 2004 and they are only 1 game back of the Wild Card spot in the playoffs with 2 crucial win and get in games left.
Defense and Special Teams
The lone TD by the Bills came on a punt return by Marcus Thigpen, the ex Dolphins. Overall the special teams had a solid game as they did pretty well in the field position game and also forcing a missed field goal. The lone blemish was kickoff specialist Jordan Gay who kicked the ball out of bounds giving the Packers the ball on their own 40. The kickoff specialist has one job and that is to kick it out of the endzone. He should be cut, but probably won’t.
The defense had the tough challenge of facing the best QB in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers, who before this game was completing 66.7% of his passes and a ridiculous 35-3 TD/INT ratio. They ended up not having much trouble with this task as Rodgers went 17-42 for 185 yards and the big fat zero for TDs. He also threw two interceptions to Rambo who decided to play for the Bills after having a respite from causing mayhem in Asia. The Bills were able to get pressure on Rodgers and force him to make truly inaccurate throws and force a big safety to seal it. It also didn’t help that his WRs had the case of the dropsies. The lone downside for the defense was their inability to stop the run game as Lacy was able to get big runs and even Rodgers got into the game. Thankfully Nathaniel Hackett was their OC and they abandoned the run as soon as they got behind. The Bills defense won them the game and they will need it the last 2 weeks especially their week 17 showdown against Tom Brady who no doubt will want to be 8-0 at home again.
The Offense (or that thing that pretended to be one)
The Bills had 0 TDs on offense and overall only had 253 yards of total offense. The pass game was truly horrendous with Kyle Orton going 14-27 for 158 yards with a pick and getting sacked 3 times. Outside of a big completion to Sammy Watkins and a big deep play to Bryce Brown, the passing game didn’t do much, instead being content with the checkdowns and short routes. Orton since the bye has completion 60% of his passes for 5.77 yards per attempt, 5 TD passes and 5 interceptions. The book is out on Orton and the past two weeks he has been content with checking and down and turtling up whenever pressure comes near. He will end up starting the last two weeks as the Bills are technically still in the playoff hunt and Marrone is stubborn, but he is not the answer for 2015 and the Bills should not treat him as such.
The big twist this week was Nathaniel Hackett not abandoning the run. The Bills ran it 33 times for 113 yards and the 2nd half the Bills went run crazy and it was a big part of the Bills controlling the 2nd half and finally winning it (along with a stellar defense of course.) Hackett has been an enigma this year as there has been times where he has done some truly great playcalling. His week 2 gameplan to get Watkins open was great and his screen passes and fake end-arounds as well have been signs that he can be a good playcaller. But there are times when he abandons the run even when successful and going pass heavy which ends up costing them, the Kansas City and Houston games come to mind in regards to that as well as the Broncos game. I still think the Bills should upgrade from him as Offensive Coordinator but the last 2 weeks could help in making me change my mind.
Overall the Bills played fantastic on defense and special teams and the offense did barely enough to lead them to a 21-13 upset. Doug Marrone rebounded from last week’s blunder where he made some truly horrendous 4th down decisions and was oblivious to one of his better players getting benched. The players seem to support him and while he has his major flows, particularly his handling of the offense and the offensive line being the worst part of the team. He has led the Bills over big wins and deserves another year. Now they head to Oakland where they try to get win #9.