Before moving forward to the New York Jets game this Sunday, I decided to take one last look at the game tape from the Buffalo Bills ugly 23-10 loss at Pittsburgh last Sunday. On Tuesday we broke down E.J. Manuel having a case of tunnel vision on his fourth quarter interception.
This time we’re going to take a look three things: Manuel’s terrible decision to throw a fade pass on third down of the Bills opening drive rather than run to result in a field goal instead of a touchdown, as well as a couple of individual pass blockers getting beat on simple one on one plays that led to Manuel sacks and last but not least, the Bills touchdown that in reality had no business being a score.
We promise, this will be the last remembrance you see here of the Pittsburgh debacle.
ILL-FATED JOHNSON FADE
Bills head coach Doug Marrone said after the game the third and goal call near the goal line was a run/pass option and Manuel chose to pass. It’s quite clear he made the wrong call. On this play the Cordy Glenn, Doug Legursky and Eric Wood all sustained blocks long enough (Wood and Legursky got below their defenders on the block) that Fred Jackson would’ve had a relatively easy go at the end zone.
Here’s the second view from an end zone cam. The lone Steeler to semi-realistically have a shot at stopping Jackson short of the goal line was safety Ryan Clark, highly unlikely with Jackson, an excellent short yard runner already having steam towards the end zone. It doesn’t sound like much in the grand scheme of things, but there’s a big mental difference between converting a Jairus Byrd interception into seven points instead of three.
MANUEL’S THREE SACKS
Manuel was sacked in the second half three times in a variety of ways. Surprisingly none came on straight blitzes. The first came (pictured below) came on a linebacker acting as a spy closing in at the right time. Manuel dropped back to pass and his receivers were covered well, including T.J. Graham (circled right) who fell down. Manuel stepped up through the pocket looking to take off for the first down, needing three yards, but Lawrence Timmons (circled) had his responsibility on Manuel’s legs the entire time, making for an easy sack and subsequent Bills punt.
People are criticizing C.J. Spiller’s running lane decision on Sunday, but another reason his snap count may be dwindling is his deficiencies in pass blocking. Here on a second and 10 Spiller is the lone back as Pittsburgh only rushes four. Spiller more/less dives at Jarvis Jones low trying to swipe him but fails miserably. Manuel quickly becomes easy prey.
This comes on the very next play and is an example of a player simply getting beat badly one on one. On third and long the Steelers again rush just four and drop their linebackers to prevent something big over the middle. This strictly becomes a case of Chris Heyward abusing Buffalo left guard Kraig Urbik and getting to Manuel.
THE TOUCHDOWN THAT REALLY WASN’T
The officials were feeling pretty generous when it came the Bills lone meaningless score at the end of the game. Chris Gragg caught a two-yard touchdown from Manuel on Buffalo’s final play of the game. As you can see in the photo below, it should not have counted. Gragg clearly committed a false start penalty and got away with it. It was not a good day for Gragg in his first stint of extensive playing time with the club as he dropped two second half passes, including an easy dump off right in his hands that may have gone for significant yardage.