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Chandler, Stevie central to Bills pass game

Posted Oct 28, 2013

Even late into the fourth quarter, a dual pronged attack from two Buffalo receivers proved effective against the Saints’ defense.

Even late into the fourth quarter, a dual pronged attack from two Buffalo receivers proved effective against the Saints’ defense. Stevie Johnson and Scott Chandler traded receptions in the middle of the field, working in tandem to try and help the Bills offense keep pace with New Orleans’.

Johnson’s longest reception was 17 yards and he had a touchdown on the day. Chandler’s longest was 22 yards. The pair evenly split 14 catches and 144 yards on the day. Working the middle of the field with Chandler and Johnson was something the Bills thought they could exploit.

“We knew going into it, even if they brought pressure there was going to be some type of middle field open defense, some type of zone,” quarterback Thad Lewis said. “They just got into it in different ways with different people. So that was the game plan going in and from film study we actually saw what we saw on film and executed it.”

After four Buffalo drives resulted in two turnovers, a punt and a missed field goal, giving the Saints a 7-0 lead, Johnson led a revival of momentum when he caught four passes for 42 yards and brought down a leaping catch to snag the ball over two defenders to tie the score.

“Just a good pass by nine (Lewis). He saw me open, the route wasn’t supposed to be exactly like that,” Johnson said. “We kind of caught eyes, that chemistry just hit right there and we made the play. That’s what happened.”

That would be Lewis’ only touchdown on the day, but he thought it was promising.

“Pre-snap I had four verts, (vertical routes) and I had a three (receivers) by one, and I knew Chandler was getting across to occupy the safety so there was no doubt in my mind that I was going there (to Johnson),” Lewis said.

Johnson would be injured in the offense’s next play, and although trainers deemed his return probable, his leg would nag him the rest of the game. But Chandler didn’t miss a beat in stepping up. Although the following drive resulted in a field goal, Chandler caught two passes for 37 yards and nearly brought down a third for a touchdown while fighting off a physically aggressive defender.

“I thought he had it,” Lewis said. “Chandler always tells me if the guy’s (covering him) back is turned, I’m open. We practiced that and he came to me after that play and said, ‘I should’ve had that ball.’ That’s something we practiced on and it’s a learning experience and if we get it again I’ll definitely throw the ball to him again, and he’ll make that play for me.”

That drive gave Buffalo its only lead of the game (10-7) late in the second half. Johnson returned after possession of the ball changed hands, and although injured, he and Chandler would continue to produce for the Bills between the numbers.

Late in the third quarter, Buffalo put together its final scoring drive of the game. Both Johnson and Chandler contributed with a pair of catches, converting one of four first downs on a drive which resulted in a Fred Jackson touchdown.

Buffalo would fall to the Saints 35-17, but Johnson said Buffalo was competitive. In his eyes, the offense just needed to score more points.

“I feel like our defense did good for the most part,” Johnson said. “We have to pick up the slack a little more. We got some things we’ve got to work on so we can win these type of games.”

As the receiving corps gear up for Kansas City in Buffalo for Week 9, they’ll certainly be focusing on connections with Lewis and recuperating from injuries.

“We all, most of us got banged up out there. We played through it,” Johnson said. “We just got to get back healthy for this week and get ready for Kansas City, another tough team that we have to play.”