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Wayne Post
  • BUFFALO BILLS REPORT CARD: Critical mistakes mar otherwise positive marks

  • Grades for Buffalo's loss to Atlanta.
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  • Quarterback: The perception of EJ Manuel’s day is tainted because of the outcome. Manuel finished 18-for-32 for 210 yards and one passing touchdown to go with his 1-yard rushing TD. Manuel shouldn’t receive the blame, but it’s hard to field good about much after such a tough loss. Had the Bills won, he would’ve been the reason. B
    Running Backs: Like Manuel, C.J. Spiller’s big day will also be lost in the wash. Spiller rushed 15 times for 147 yards, including a 77-yarder and a 36-yard touchdown. Fred Jackson added 42 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown, and he also scored on a 21-yard pass play. The unit looked like what fans hoped they would at the start of the season. B+
    Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Don’t pretend anything but the fumbles by Stevie Johnson and Scott Chandler are worth remembering. Those plays will identify this game and this season for many, putting both in the realm of “We had it, but …” Veterans like these two cannot make plays like that in key moments. Beyond that, the unit was good, not great, and speedsters T.J. Graham and Marquise Goodwin were non-existent. F
    Offensive Line: This group likely had the best day of any, paving the way for a potent running game (195 yards on 31 carries; 6.3 yards per carry) and didn’t allow a sack. Spiller was much more patient, allowing linemen the time to open running lanes better than in previous weeks. Two short-yardage touchdowns inside the red zone were key early. A
    Defensive Line: The Bills’ defense was on the field for 38:09, and that took a toll by game’s end. Marcell Dareus and Mario Williams both registered sacks, and Alan Branch led the way with nine tackles. Dareus was particularly effective, adding a pair of tackles for loss. The absence of Kyle Williams hurt, and the Falcons weren’t known for having a great offensive line. B
    Linebackers: Kiko Alonso led the team in tackles (surprise) with 13 total. Jerry Hughes was dynamic with a pair of sacks, and Manny Lawson had one as well. Overall, the group helped contain Atlanta’s run game, but two big plays — Steven Jackson’s 27-yard TD run and Antone Smith’s 38-yard score — make it hard to see the good. C+
    Secondary: Matt Ryan hasn’t been right all season, but Sunday was a vintage performance. Ryan threw for 311 yards after completing 28 of 47 passes, and Roddy White has his best game of the year with 10 catches for 143 yards. Leodis McKelvin knocked away three passes and finished with 10 tackles to lead the group, but zero big plays were turned in by the group. C-
    Page 2 of 2 - Special Teams: McKelvin coughed up a fumble on one of his returns. That was the bad; the rest was solid. Dan Carpenter made his one field goal, Brian Moorman averaged better than 42 yards per punt, and Marquise Goodwin averaged 27.5 yards per kickoff return. The punt and kickoff units were strong, giving up no big plays. B+
    Coaching: Hard to pin too much on the coaches for this one as it appears execution, not strategy, was the culprit in this loss. Doug Marrone must take some of the blame, which should center around the lacking time of possession and the poor play of the secondary. Against a depleted Falcons passing game, the Bills should have been better built to limit Roddy White, but that didn’t happen. C+

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