O-line knows run game can slow Chiefs pass rush


With the second half of the season still to play, and the playoffs looming for both teams, the offensive line knows the onus is on them to keep quarterback Kyle Orton productive and protected against a stout Kansas City defense Sunday.

Orton has received much of the credit for the Bills' 3-1 record since Week 5 and deservedly so with his 104.0 passer rating and 67.4 completion percentage. Over the last three games, however, he has been sacked 15 times and hit on another 21 drop backs.

"[Orton] does a good job of getting us in the right protections and getting us going to the right places," Wood said. "We've given up a lot of sacks since he's taken over and we have to do a better job for him."

A similar threat looms large facing a Kansas City team that knows how to get to the quarterback. Heading into Sunday's game, the Chiefs are tied for third in the league in sacks (27.0) just one behind Buffalo (28.0).

Primarily responsible for that sack stat are OLBs Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Houston leads the league with 12 sacks and averages over half a sack for his career (.75). Hali has 18 career multi-sack games and in his last five meetings with the Bills has 3.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. The pair has also combined for 116 sacks in their careers.

They're not the only ones pressing the pocket for Kansas City, however. Nine players on the Chiefs roster have recorded at least half a sack this season.

The Chiefs also pose a threat of using stunts (a tactic used to mask blocking assignments and pass rushes) against Buffalo. G Kraig Ubrik admitted that this is something that has gotten them in past weeks. Buffalo's linemen used the bye week to polish up communication against stunts.

That being said, the Bills know what they're up against and are ready for the matchup.

"Their ends are as good as it gets in this league," C Eric Wood said. "Houston and Hali have been playing at a high level the past few years and they got some guys up the middle with some juice too. It will present a big challenge."

Up the middle is NT Dontari Poe, an athlete whose stat line doesn't convey how good he really is. He'll line up directly across from Wood.

"I think [Poe] is an excellent player," Wood added. "I think he's been good since he entered the league. He's got a good combination of size and power and speed and quickness. He's a good ball player."

In charge of the matchup against Houston is Rookie T Seantrel Henderson. A tall task undoubtedly, but having already faced pass rushes like Cameron Wake, J.J. Watt and Everson Griffen, Henderson is confident about the matchup.

"[Houston is] a pretty quick guy, pretty strong too," He said. "He has a pretty good bull rush. As far as me, I'm long enough and strong enough to stop his bull rush."

The one area where Buffalo hopes to take advantage of is Kansas City's run defense. Despite the fact that it has yet to surrender a rushing touchdown this year, it owns the 19th ranked defense allowing more than 116 yards per game. Of all Bills' opponents this year, only the Texans and Patriots rank lower.

The Bills have been working to get their run game back on track in an effort to re-establish balance on offense. Last season Buffalo rolled up 241 yards on the ground against the Chiefs and averaged better than six yards a carry.

Another reason to get the run game going is Kansas City's pass defense is the best in the league allowing just 199.4 yards per game. Running the ball will also help to keep the Chiefs from teeing off on Orton on long third-down situations.

Injuries have certainly played into the Bills' drop in rushing productivity, but getting the ball moving on the ground early effectively protects Orton and can keep the Chiefs on their heels.

"Our technique is as good as we can get it," said Henderson of how to get the run game going. "The longer our combination blocks and our one-on one-blocks are working, and as long as we stay coming off the ball and being mean and aggressive out there, the more yards we can get in the run game."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.