News

Print
RSS

From the booth: Panthers at Bills

Posted Sep 16, 2013

With a couple of days to let the racing pulse settle down, we’re ready for some leftover observations from the Bills heart-breaking victory over the Panthers.

Two games into the season, it’s safe to say the Bills offensive line has picked up where they left off the last few years. The Bills have allowed only one sack in the first two games, and they’re ranked fourth in the NFL in sacks allowed. And they’re averaging 110-rushing yards per game, good for fourth in that category as well.

In the Panthers game, the Bills O-Line was flagged for only one penalty, a five-yard false start by Colin Brown. That comes one week after a couple of costly Illegal Use of Hands penalties against offensive linemen in the Patriots game, penalties that cost the Bills good field position. 

The offensive line isn’t perfect. And there have been some hiccups by individual linemen through the first two games. But in all, the O-Line is performing at a high level early in the season.

With only one sack allowed, the Bills O-Line deserves some credit. But so does EJ Manuel. The Bills QB has been able to escape pass rushers and make some big plays under pressure. Here’s an example of one:  

On first and ten from his own 17, EJ was able to dodge the pressure from Carolina DE Charles Johnson, and work his way to the sideline buying some time. He made a great pass on the move to fellow rookie Robert Woods who had the presence of mind to come back for the ball.  It resulted in a 19-yard pickup. And it’s a good example of Manuel’s mobility helping the Bills keep the sack totals down.

It may have been Hall of Famer Bruce Smith who called my attention to this years ago, but I believe it is true: sacks do come in bunches.

Mario Williams exploded for 4.5 sacks Sunday, setting a new franchise record for sacks in a single game. But throughout his career, Williams has collected most of his sacks in bunches.

Last year, he got five of his 10 ½ sacks in two games, Arizona and Indy. In 2011, with Houston, he got 4 of his 5 total sacks in two games. Going back further, in 2010, five of his 8 ½ sacks came in two games. In 2008, 9 of his 12 total sacks for the season came in four games, and in 2007, 8 of his 14 total sacks occurred in three games.

For Mario Williams, at least, the sacks do come in bunches. 

I believe we are witnessing Leodis McKelvin’s emergence as a quality cornerback in the NFL. The former first round draft pick is in his sixth year, and he’s been very solid in the first two games this year. He’s got seven pass breakups in his first two games, the second highest pass breakup total in the league. 

His performance Sunday against the Panthers may have been his best defensive game since he’s been in the league. And he wasn’t worried at all about the Buffalo offense moving the ball downfield for the win with 1:38 left in the game.

“I wasn’t worried, I wasn’t watching the game, truly,” McKelvin told me in the locker room after the game. “I knew we were going to win. I told Aaron (Williams) before they kicked the field goal, if they kick the field goal we’re going to win this game.  They kicked the field goal I was on the sidelines chilling out.  I wasn’t worried at all. “

McKelvin added he was so unconcerned, he took his shoes off on the sidelines while the offense moved down the field. He had to put them back on again, for the final play of the game with Carolina got the ball with: 02 left.

I’m still feeling bad about my brief, temporary brain-lock at the end of the game. After calling the game-tying touchdown, I somehow lost track of the extra point being the go-ahead points in the game. Fortunately, my broadcast partner, Mark Kelso quickly corrected me. I got caught up in the excitement and noise and the clamor in the coaches booth next to us.  My bad.