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From the Booth: Seahawks at Bills

Posted Dec 17, 2012

It didn’t look much better from the radio broadcast booth at the Rogers Centre Sunday. The Bills never gave themselves much of a chance to win, after falling behind early to Seattle.

Our weekly review of the highs and lows from Sunday’s game is not intended to be a sweeping indictment of players or coaches, but rather a deeper examination into the “whys” and “hows” of the game. If you’re looking for ranting and raving, there are plenty of other outlets that provide that. Here’s our review of the Bills-Seahawks matchup “From the Booth”

• The Bills rush defense took a major step backwards, after six straight weeks of solid play. They had held their opponents to four-yards or less per rush for the last six games, but that part of their defense collapsed against Seattle.

The Seahawks averaged 8.4 yards per carry against Buffalo and they did much of their damage out of their read-option running attack. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson had a record of good production out of the option play going into the Buffalo game, and the Bills defenders say they practiced against that look during the week.

“Yeah we worked on it all week,” Safety George Wilson told me in the locker room after the game. “But seeing it in practice and playing and defending it in the game is two completely different deals sometimes. The way those runs were springing early on it had to be guys being overly aggressive doing more than what is asked of them on a given play and guys just trying to do too much as opposed to doing your particular job.”

On Seattle’s first touchdown, DE Mario Williams appeared to chase RB Marshawn Lynch inside on the option fake, giving Wilson a clear lane for a 14-yard scoring run. Kyle Moore got caught later in the first quarter when Wilson ran for 19 yards on Seattle’s second scoring drive. In the second quarter, Mario Williams again bit inside on the read option fake, and Wilson went around the right side for a 13-yard touchdown run.

By the time the Bills got their footing and learned how to play disciplined football against the read option, it was too late—Seattle had built too big a lead.

C.J. Spiller had one of his best days of the year, running past the 1,000 yard threshold for the first time in his three years with the Bills. Spiller’s trademark quickness and elusiveness were on display late in the first quarter. On 1st and 10 at Seattle’s 42, Spiller ran to the right side, bouncing outside the pile with a quick burst. He caught Seahawks DE Chris Clemons flat-footed with his first move to the outside and then he made S Kam Chancellor miss with a great move. Three plays later, Spiller found the end zone from 14-yards out, bouncing the run around the right side and blowing past linebacker Bobby Wagner. Spiller made a great jump cut past Wagner later in the second quarter.

He finished the game with 17-carries for 103 yards and he caught three passes. He’s well on his way towards demonstrating that he can be the workhorse, every-down back many Bills fans have been clamoring for.

• The Bills best offensive strategy a month or so ago was the screen pass. NFL Network Analyst Mike Mayock went as far to say Buffalo had the best screen passing attack in the league five weeks ago, when the Bills beat Miami. But the screen pass has been stymied in recent weeks.

Against Seattle, the Bills ran three screen plays, completing 1-of-3 screen pass attempts for minus-8 yards. Chan Gailey says Bills opponents are taking the screen play away from Buffalo’s offense.

“People are assigning guys to the screen game a ton now,” Gailey says. “We’ve got defensive linemen that are not rushing in certain situations because of screens. We find they assign a linebacker or two sometimes to the screen game, so it’s becoming more and more difficult, because of our success with the screen game.”

• LT Cordy Glenn had his hands full all day with Seattle’s defensive line, and the 2nd round draft pick had a rough time right from the start. It started with a false start penalty on Buffalo’s first offensive snap. Glenn picked up another false start in the third quarter.

But his pass protection struggles were highlighted with a couple of plays in the second half. Chris Clemons’ sack early in the third quarter came on a speed rush around Glenn. And later in the third, Clemons beat Glenn around the corner and got to Fitzpatrick, stripping the ball loose. Glenn had a chance to flop on the ball but he couldn’t, and Seattle’s Bruce Irvin recovered and ran it back to the ten yard line. Glenn will have better days in his NFL career.