The offensive execution was better overall in preseason game number two, particularly in the passing game as both Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick ran the offense with precision Saturday night. Edwards was a perfect 10-10 for 79 yards, while Fitzpatrick went 13-16 for 143 yards in Buffalo's 27-20 victory over Chicago. But the big story was the pace of the no huddle was decidedly faster.
"There were more occasions where we moved at the tempo that we would like to get to," said head coach Dick Jauron. "Obviously you want to be able to have some change ups in this thing, but I like it. The faster it is for me the better, within reason."
"I thought we caught them off guard again," said Edwards in reference to the opponent. "I think we need to continue to do that to try and get ourselves into shape where we can run that during the regular season too. "
Edwards, however, downplayed his numbers.
"I think those kind of lie," he said of his perfect passing statistics. "There were a couple of sacks in there that I could've got rid of the ball and I could've taken a couple of incompletions to save those sack statistics. But I thought for the most part the O-line blocked well, the receivers were where they were supposed to be and we were pretty accurate with the football."
Buffalo punted on their opening two possessions, but the Bills attack moved the ball. Edwards converted an early 3rd-and-3 with a 36-yard hookup with Lee Evans down the far sideline as well as a pair of 3rd-and-5's on the team's marathon third possession that bridged the first and second quarters.
"It was good," said Evans of the big play. "It's just good to get out here and get some reps in some loud situations and to just be able to come out here and execute is good."
Edwards best play may have come on a 4th-and-1 at the Chicago 34 when the Bills quarterback executed a good play fake and took a bootleg to the wide open left sideline for 14 yards, to set up 1st and 10 at the Bears 20.
"I thought Turk (Schonert) did a great job of calling plays," said Edwards. "There were some situations I was very impressed with some of the calls I was getting in my helmet. That was one of them. It was just a planned bootleg."
Buffalo however, had to settle for a field goal at the end of the 16-play drive to tie the score at three early in the third quarter.
On the first series by the second offensive unit Fitzpatrick had orchestrated a good drive, but it ended when Roscoe Parrish was stripped of the ball after converting a 3rd-and-5 at the Chicago 16-yard line.
At the end of the half however, Fitzpatrick led an efficient eight-play drive going 5-7 for 42 yards. He appeared to hit Felton Huggins with a quick fade pass in the end zone on 3rd-and-goal at the two with seven seconds left in the half, but Huggins was unable to hold on to the ball.
Rian Lindell put another field goal through from 20 yards away.
Fitzpatrick also led the team's first drive of the second half, which covered 75 yards on 10 plays and was capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Dominic Rhodes. Fitzpatrick was 5-6 passing on the drive for 63 yards.
"We're very happy Ryan's here," said Jauron of Fitzpatrick. "He's embraced it. He's really thrown himself into it. He's contributed and he'll continue to contribute."
Defensive playmakersThe defense made a host of plays as well. For the second straight week Leodis McKelvin pulled down an interception. The right cornerback picked off a Jay Cutler pass that appeared underthrown at the Buffalo 26 to stop a Bears drive.
"Jay Cutler is going to try to force things if pressure gets to him he's just going to throw it up there," said McKelvin. "He is going to give you a chance to get interceptions so you just have to take your chances and get a turnover. The pressure he got gave me enough time and I jumped up and got it at its highest point."
"I thought we came out and started fast," said Donte Whitner. "We had a three-and-out to start. We were on the verge of getting a second three-and-out until we gave up a first down and Leodis got the interception, which really makes it a three-and-out."
Other playmakers on defense included Chris Ellis who had a tackle for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery. Copeland Bryan, playing in his first preseason game after missing the Hall of Fame game with a hamstring injury, was getting consistent pressure and recorded a sack and forced fumble that led to a Bills takeaway.
Rookie linebacker Nic Harris had a pass breakup on a 3rd-and-3 at the Bills six to force the Bears to settle for a field goal and also had a third down sack to stop a drive and force another Chicago field goal attempt.
The late game showstopper however, was Ellis Lankster who had a pair of interceptions deep in Chicago territory. One came off a tipped pass that went off the hands of Bears receiver Johnny Knox and Lankster took it the other way to the Chicago four-yard line. It led to a Buffalo touchdown two plays later on a Gibran Hamdan three-yard touchdown pass to rookie Shawn Nelson.
Lankster would add a second interception that he returned 30 yards to the Bears four-yard line. It too led to a touchdown and helped Buffalo blow the game open as Bruce Hall ran it in for a four-yard score and a 27-13 advantage.
And Lydell Sargeant capped the takeaway parade with the team's fourth interception of the game with under a minute to play off Brett Basanez.
"I was playing nickel so I was inside more or less and the number two wide receiver came up and I kind of felt him slow down on his stem, and ran a corner route," said Sargeant. "Actually I wasn't supposed to take that play but I jumped it because I knew it was coming. And the quarterback threw it and I just jumped in front of it."
Other notable playJonathan Stupar had a good night from the tight end position as he proved to be a reliable outlet underneath and over the middle. He finished the game with six catches for 56 yards.
Rookie tight end Shawn Nelson caught a three-yard fade pass from Gibran Hamdan for his first career touchdown.
"It gives me a lot of confidence," said Nelson. "It reminds me that I am capable of playing at this level. Sometimes a player needs reminding that they belong here."
Justin Jenkins found a couple of passes hard to handle, but ultimately made a handful of plays with five receptions for 47 yards.
"It was a good opportunity," said Jenkins. "Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) did a good job of getting me the rock, and Gibran (Hamdan) also. I was just happy to be able to contribute to the offense."
Reggie Corner had four tackles on defense as well as a pass breakup.
Buffalo's run defense also was improved surrendering just 57 yards on 17 carries.
Injury updateCornerback Drayton Florence and strong safety Bryan Scott both left the game in the first half with knee sprains and did not return.
"They're calling them both knee sprains," said Jauron. "Bryan had kind of a milder sprain, knee and ankle. And then Drayton had the sprained knee."
Travis McCall also suffered a sprained knee.
John McCargo suffered a stinger early in the game and did not return.
The Bills return to training camp on Monday for a night practice at 7:10pm. Camp wraps up at St. John Fisher on Wednesday.