Here's the Bills news of note for Dec. 8th.
1 - Tighten upThere are all kinds of clichés that NFL players can use in the situation the Bills find themselves in with four weeks left in the regular season. Buffalo is in a win out scenario to even have a chance of reaching the postseason. But phrases like 'backs against the wall,' 'must win game,' and others weren't used by the players in the locker room Wednesday.
LeSean McCoy said the solution to their problems in playing a complete game are rooted in not playing their best in all three phases.
"We've just got to tighten up," said McCoy. "I think that's the biggest thing is tighten up on offense, defense, special teams. What I mean by that is play well together collectively. That's the biggest thing. Run the ball well. We've got to make those plays where when the offense stalls out and it needs somebody to pick it up, someone makes a play. Then just turnovers and penalties. Those things you can't have. You've got to run the ball well in December and play good defense and you can't have turnovers and your special teams have to play well."
Coming out of last week's game head coach Rex Ryan felt there was a lack of confidence. Lorenzo Alexander talked about being resilient in the face of adversity.
"If we want to find ourselves in the playoffs moving forward, not only this year but next year and change the culture around here, we have to be able to stand up as men and collectively rally together," said Alexander.
Veteran Richie Incognito believes the mental toughness of the team as a whole has to be able to adapt to the situations that an NFL game can dish out, good or bad.
"I think that's been our issue this season and it was a little bit of our issue last season," said Incognito. "Some things start going south on us and it seems like all the air comes out of the stadium and we really can't recover. That's something we've been talking about. Mental toughness isn't being rigid. Mental toughness is about being able to bend and take some shots and flow with it and bounce right back.
"This will be a big test for us. We had a tough loss in Oakland, a game where we dominated for two and a half quarters and then they came out and we got dominated. This is a big bounce back week and a good opponent. They're playing at a playoff level. This week and the next several weeks will tell us a lot about where we're going."
2 - Woods makes good first step backRobert Woods participated in practice for the first time in three weeks on Wednesday. He was a limited participant and was just easing his way back in from his knee injury.
"Me personally, just the first practice trying to get comfortable, feel out the brace and figure out how I'm going to play," said Woods. "That was most of it. Just going out there and feel being able to move first day back."
Woods practiced with an old school bar knee brace on his leg to help stabilize his knee. He's hopeful he'll be able to play Sunday, but doesn't know if the brace is something he'll play with if given the green light to play against the Steelers.
"We'll see. It's still early in the week to say," he said. "I like to play no ankle brace, no ankle tape, just be free, no knee brace and feel fast. But we'll see how the week goes and how we progress from there."
3 - Rex weighs in on go for two debate
The Bills have been very judicious in attempting two-point conversions this season. They've had just four attempts in 2016, but they've been successful on all four. Sunday they face a Pittsburgh team perceived as aggressive when it comes to two-point conversions. Truth be told, the Steelers have attempted twice as many two-point conversions as the Bills (8), but have only been successful on three of them.
Head coach Rex Ryan was asked about Tomlin's willingness to go for two after touchdowns regardless of the time and score in the game on occasion. Ryan isn't so sure Tomlin's approach is as aggressive at it might seem.
"Well, I think sometimes there are a lot of things, a lot of factors that go into it," Ryan said. "(Tomlin's) had some issues in the kicking game a couple years ago where it's probably like he was going to go for it every snap, any time he was down there.
"But you'll have to ask him, he's going to do obviously what he thinks is best for his football team based on his personnel and I would do the same thing here. So, I'm not going to say I would be opposed to it, but I think when you look at the numbers, you would say I am opposed to that. I'm going to go for one, but I never say never."
Website AdvancedFootballAnalytics.com around midseason performed a study that calculated that on two-point conversion attempts since 2001 (1,045 attempts) they were successful 48 percent of the time (501) yielding an expected value of .96 points.
Meanwhile since the point after attempt has been moved back for a 33-yard kick the success rate has been 94.4 percent, yielding an expected value of .945 points.
So it would appear that Ryan's approach of going for two when the situation calls for it based on the score and time left in the game (fourth quarter) is prudent knowing the expected value (.945 points to .96 points) is pretty much even, and that the likelihood of hitting an extra point to get one (94.4%) is almost double the likelihood of getting two (48%).