The Bills were on the wrong end of a blowout game against the New York Jets in the Meadowlands. While it was a disappointing way for the Bills to end their first season under Chan Gailey, one player had another solid outing.
Second year safety Jairus Byrd ended the season getting his first interception of the year and returning it for a touchdown. Last year Byrd was an interception machine earning Pro Bowl recognition as a rookie. This season the interceptions did not come with nearly the same frequency, but he believes his overall play has improved.
"I think it has improved by just playing the position," said Byrd. "This is my second year playing the position. I played corner in college so it is something that does not happen overnight. It is a learning process and I am learning from guys that have played the position their whole career."
Byrd's interception gave the Bills momentum early in the second half, but it was brief in a lopsided defeat thanks mainly to six turnovers in the 38-7 loss. Jairus' touchdown was the lone bright spot for the team as it represented Buffalo's only points.
Torell Troup thought that could have been the turning point for the Bills, but it was no to be.
"We thought we had some momentum," Troup said. "As the defense that is how we felt, but they had a couple of plays that swung the momentum right back in their favor and we could not come back from that."
Byrd spoke all year long of how he wanted to become a better tackler in the open field and he proved how hard he has worked in that phase of the game in 2010. He finished the season with 89 tackles, one sack, three forced fumbles and the lone interception.
Comparing those numbers to his rookie season (45 tackles, 9 INTs) it's clear his game has become more well-rounded.
"The new defensive scheme allows you to do a lot of different things," said Byrd. "You might be in the box one play, playing the run, and then you might be in the deep middle, or playing halves, or covering receivers and tight ends. It allows you to do a lot of different things."
Against the Jets, he added four solo tackles and assisted on two other ones. Last year Byrd recorded five or more tackles in only three games. This year, he had nine games of five or more tackles.
Byrd had a difficult start to the year last season after having surgery to repair a groin injury for the third time in 13 months. He also had to adjust to a new coaching staff and a new defensive scheme. Fortunately, Byrd was able to persevere through that and was able to put together a successful season and hopes to build on his overall game.
Even though it took to the final game for Byrd to get his first interception of the year, he has improved in other areas that are crucial to a safety's success in the NFL. Success that the Bills hope make Byrd an impact player for many seasons to come.
"I think it is getting better," said Byrd. "Every time you step out there in that position it helps. I think that that has been a major thing this year, being out there, knowing what to expect and being able to learn."