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Bills offense, opportunistic defense story of 1st half


With eight games in the books and eight to be played Buffalo's productive offense and opportunistic defense have been the headliners through the first half of the 2011 campaign.

Buffalo's offense has averaged 27.8 points per game through eight games, making it the fourth-highest average in team history. Only the early 90's Bills and the 2002 offense under Drew Bledsoe put up more points per game through the first half of the season.

"I give a lot of credit the O-line, to Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick), to the receivers, to Fred (Jackson), to the tight ends," said head coach Chan Gailey. "The coaching staff's doing a great job of getting them organized, communicating what we want on the field."

Gailey is right to mention Fitzpatrick whose decision making thus far has been pretty good. Fitz has put together the fourth best passer rating in a half season for Bills quarterbacks with a 92.3 mark. He's also got the third-highest completion percentage in team annals for the first half of a season hitting on 65.4 percent of his pass attempts.

Buffalo's pass protection has been one of the reasons Fitzpatrick has been so productive. Their nine sacks allowed through the first eight games are tied for the second-fewest in franchise history.

"They've done a tremendous job," said Fitzpatrick. "I can't say enough about those guys. They're putting in so much work during the week, just working together. Passing different line games and things off and there's so much that goes into it for those guys. All five of them have to be on the same page working together and I think that's probably the biggest thing is they're doing a great job together." 

Meanwhile Fred Jackson has served as a big catalyst for the offense with the second-best scrimmage yard total for a Bills player with 1,194 yards. He trails only Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson, who had 1,300 yards after eight games in 1975.

"I think it's all been said before," said head coach Chan Gailey. "He catches, he runs, he protects. He's doing an amazing job for our football team right now. We wouldn't be where we are without him, I know that."

Jackson's rushing yards per game average of 100.4 makes him only the third back in team history to post such an average through the first half of a regular season.

Defensively, Buffalo's 20 takeaways lead the NFL and their 15 interceptions are an AFC best at midseason. That interception total is also tied for second-best through eight games in team annals.

"It's about taking advantage of those opportunities," said George Wilson, who leads the team with four interceptions. "And we've definitely taken advantage of most of the ones we've had."

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