Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bills' play-calling questionable in loss to Texans


The Buffalo Bills went into Houston with what seemed like a clear game plan: get the ball to C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. What transpired was a season-low in rushing attempts, the second most passing attempts this season for Ryan Fitzpatrick and a number of three-and-outs that crippled the offensive flow and spoiled an impressive defensive performance against a top-tier Texans offense.

Coach Chan Gailey told reporters earlier in the week that if Spiller and Jackson could “touch it between 30 and 40 times a game, I think that's pretty good for us.” Perhaps it would have been, if the two had actually seen that much action Sunday. In reality, neither saw double-digit touches on the ground, and they combined for a total of 22 touches the entire game, the highlights being a 28-yard screen pass and a 22-yard run out the shotgun by C.J. Spiller.

“I thought they did a good job with the personnels they had in, taking us out of our three-wide-receiver run game,” Fitzpatrick said after the game. “We tried to run a little bit early with our two tight (end set) and they did a good job of taking that away.

"We felt we had a better chance getting the ball in the air a little bit and go against some of those one-on-one matchups. The story of the day for us is we've got to get C.J.more touches, everybody knows that.”

Despite the lack of touches, Spiller put together another 100-yard day, although less than 40 of it was on the ground. Probably because Buffalo, despite its strength rushing the ball, passed 71 percent of the time, including three three-and-outs in which all the plays called were pass plays.

“With what they were doing, we thought that was going to be the best way to counter that,” Fitzpatrick said. “We had a lot of stuff we didn't get to (in the running game) because of how they were playing us.”

The biggest indicator may have been on third down for the Bills. The team was 2-for-11 on the day and failed to convert on its last six attempts. Eight of those 11 attempts were more than 5 yards out, and Buffalo only attempted to run once on third down, a failed third-and-one attempt in the first quarter.

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