BBD Assistant Editor: Ryan Talbot
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Bills lost 35-17 to the Saints to fall to 3-5, but the team challenged New Orleans. Drew Brees’ stat-line looks impressive, as he went 26-of-34 for 332 yards and five touchdowns. That said, Buffalo’s defense made Brees uncomfortable as he was sacked four times during the game and pressured consistently.
Even in the face of pressure, Brees made impressive throws that moved the chains or in many cases, went for touchdowns. Brees is a franchise quarterback in the NFL and simply played like one today.
In terms of run defense, the Bills stuffed New Orleans for the majority of the game. This is one positive the Bills can take from the game.
It’s never great to give up 35 points, but one score came on a blown coverage, a second on a deep prayer and their first touchdown came after Thad Lewis’ second fumble in Buffalo territory. Overall, the defense impressed me today and a lot of the mistakes they made can be corrected.
Offensively, Thad Lewis made too many mistakes for the Bills to win, but as wrestling announcer Jim Ross would say, “He’s tougher than a $2 steak.” Lewis took multiple hard hits, including two to his helmet. After the first play of the game, I personally believed that Lewis would not be returning. Lewis took a hard shot to the ribs and stayed down for a while following the play. Thad Lewis isn’t a long-term answer at starter, as that’s E.J. Manuel’s job, but he’s one heck of a backup quarterback going forward.
Lewis isn’t the only tough player on Buffalo’s offense. Both Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson played through pain today and deserve to be praised for their efforts. Other players that stood out today were Marquise Goodwin who showed off great hands and Scott Chandler who had a very up and down day. In terms of receiving, Chandler played well, but his blocking led to a free shot on Lewis as well as a holding call that negated a touchdown.
Up next for the Bills are the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. Mark it down folks, if C.J. Spiller plays, the Bills beat the Chiefs next week.
Finals thoughts are on the way!
The Saints are in the victory formation and running the clock out on today’s game.
Bills turn over the ball on downs and the Saints have it with less than four minutes remaining.
You never want to see a play like this one. Two Saints hit one another on a pass and both are injured. Kenny Vaccaro and Lewis were both hurt on the play. Both did get up on their own.
The Bills don’t have any quit in them and that’s a testament to Doug Marrone and the Bills coaching staff. They faced an uphill battle today, but have done well all things considered.
Thad Lewis finds T.J. Graham to keep the chains moving.
Marquise Goodwin has exceptional hands. Another solid grab for a first down.
Saints 35 – Bills 17
Nickell Robey had been playing well today, but there’s no excuse for him on that play. The pass should have been broken up, but instead Kenny Stills caught a 42 yard touchdown pass.
The Saints get called for holding on second down and Nickell Robey makes a great tackle on the next play.
Aaron Williams feels as though he was interfered with but Ben Watson converts the third down.
It’s third and five for the Saints.
Buffalo has applied a lot of pressure on Drew Brees today. Many plays where Brees has just gotten rid of the ball at the last possible second.
Thad Lewis makes his first poor throw of the game and the Saints intercept it. The Saints take over on their own 49 yard line.
Lewis had Goodwin open on 2nd and 7 but threw it over the speedster’s head.
Tashard Choice is down on one knee following a run. The Bills do have Wingo on their roster for the game, but the running backs of the Bills are really banged up.
McKelvin fumbles the punt return but is able to scoop the ball up and return it the 18 yard line.
Nickell Robey breaks up a pass intended for Lance Moore. The Saints are forced to punt.
Mario Williams sacks Drew Brees on second and eight. The Saints face a 3rd and 9. This is a big play for Buffalo’s defense.
Doug Marrone is challenging the spot of the foul. It’s probably not the best challenge as Marrone has already lost one timeout in the second half. It’s likely that the Bills will lose this challenge too.
Jimmy Graham catches the ball for a nine yard gain and the Saints pick up a first down on a short run the following play.
Nickell Robey let a Drew Brees pass go right through his hands on first down. The interception would have really given Buffalo a lot of momentum.
Saints 28 – Bills 17
Fred Jackson punches the ball in from one yard out to cut into the Saints’ lead. The Bills have shown a lot of heart today and have had to overcome some questionable penalties.
Thad Lewis throws the ball away on 3rd and 5, but again Lewis gets hit in the helmet. Two very dirty shots by the Saints on this drive.
Buffalo’s drive continues after an unneccessary roughness penalty. The Bills had scored a touchdown, but it was negated by a Scott Chandler hold. Buffalo is moving the ball well following a Goodwin reception.
I appreciate Johnson’s effort, but I want to see him get healthy.
Stevie Johnson needs to sit out for the remainder of the game.
Marquise Goodwin gets his first reception of the day for the Bills.
Saints 28 – Bills 10
Jimmy Graham adds his second touchdown of the game. The biggest play of the drive was a holding penalty against the Bills on third down after Brees threw an incomplete pass. The Bills desperately need a score here.
Graham’s knee was down before the ball crossed the goal line in my opinion, but the Saints will still be about one yard away from the end zone.
The Saints finally bust a big run for 13 yards. The Saints have the ball on Buffalo’s 13 yard line.
Byrd breaks up a 3rd down pass, but a holding penalty on Jerry Hughes gives the Saints an automatic first down.
The Saints have a 3rd and 6. A stop here would be big for the Bills.
The Saints take over on their own 43 yard line following Buffalo’s first offensive series of the half. Buffalo’s defense will once again be asked to keep the Saints from scoring even though the team has excellent field position.
Thad Lewis had Stevie Johnson on 3rd and 12, but couldn’t make the pass. Brian Moorman is in to punt and the Saints should get excellent field position.
The Saints are starting to stack the box again. Lewis needs to make some completions so that the run game can get going again.
Buffalo needed a stop there and delivered. The Bills need to put some points on the board early in the second half.
Kyle Williams with a big sack on Drew Brees on third down. The Saints will be forced to punt after moving the ball onto Buffalo’s side of the field.
Jerry Hughes just misses forcing a fumble on Drew Brees.
Another third down conversion for the Saints as the ball is now on Buffalo’s 40 yard line. Brees attempts a pass to Robert Meachem, but the pass falls incomplete.
The Saints convert the first down on a pass to Collins.
3rd and 1 for the Saints.
Searcy is down after a Pierre Thomas run. He’s down on one knee talking to trainers.
Saints take over on their own 32 yard line after a nice Darren Sproles kick return to start the second half.
Editor’s Halftime Thoughts:
The Buffalo Bills are trailing 21-10 at halftime to the New Orleans Saints, and the deficit could certainly be worse.
While the offense has been the weaker unit for the Bills this season, the defenses deserves blame for the 11-point deficit. The Bills actually had a 10-7 lead with less than five minutes to play in the half after two second-quarter scoring drives, but the lead quickly evaporated due to poor defense.
A 69-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills was simply the result of blown coverage by the Bills — the Bills did not assign the play properly, leaving Stills wide-open with only outside linebacker Jerry Hughes trying to chase him downfield, and Stills strolled for six points. After an offensive series quickly stalled to a 3-and-out, the Bills defense was able to defend 77 yards of field for 3:18, giving up a 15-yard touchdown pass from Saints quarterback Drew Brees to tight end Jimmy Graham with just :30 to play in the first half.
The defense has had its bright spots: defensive tackle Kyle Williams has been dominant inside, while cornerback Stephon Gilmore has locked down his side of the field and appears to be back in form. They have also been put in some tough spots due to two Thad Lewis fumbles inside the 25-yard line. That said, they have already allowed 222 yards of offense and would have allowed 27 first-half points if not for two missed field goals by Saints kicker Garrett Hartley.
Some may blame Lewis for the Bills’ early struggles in the game since he fumbled three times and two of them were recovered by the Saints, but he shouldn’t be blamed. Lewis took a big shot on the first fumble, and has potentially been playing with a rib injury or at least discomfort ever since. He has continued to take big shots all game long as a result of horrible pass protection from the Bills offensive line, yet has continued to stand tall in the pocket and make some big plays. He has completed 10-of-17 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
The offense certainly hasn’t been great, but they were able to put together two scoring drives. A key to the second half will be whether Lewis can continue to establish a connection with wide receiver Stevie Johnson, something he did four times for 42 yards, including a 13-yard pass caught impressively over double coverage by Johnson in the end zone, on the Bills’ only touchdown drive of the game.
— Dan Hope
Saints 21 – Bills 10
Buffalo intercepted Brees on the drive late in the half, but a facemask penalty gave Brees another opportunity. With 30 seconds left in the half, Brees found Jimmy Graham for a 15 yard touchdown reception.
It looked as though the Saints jumped offsides on the Jimmy Graham touchdown reception. I’d like to see that one again.
Buffalo intercepts Drew Brees but get bailed out on a facemask penalty. Williams was blatantly held and he grabbed Brees’ facenask on the play trying to make the sack. McKelvin’s interception was all for naught.
The Saints run another screen for nine yards and then Lance Moore is found for the first down. There’s 49 seconds to go.
Drew Brees takes a shot as he throws the ball deep, but incomplete. Nickell Robey gets called for illegal contact on the play.
Pierre Thomas gains 17 yards on a screen pass after the two minute warning. On the next play, Nickell Robey broke up the pass.
We’ve reached the two-minute warning and the Saints are moving the ball. After the break, they’ll take over on their own 45 yard line.
Kyle Williams is down on one knee following a 10 yard completion to Lance Moore. Williams walked off on his own.
The Saints take over on their own 23 yard line. There’s still 3:18 remaining in the half.
Buffalo goes three and out and are forced to punt with 3:26 remaining.
The Saints have called consecutive timeouts in an attempt to score again before halftime. It’s 3rd and 6 for the Bills.
Saints 14 – Bills 10
The Saints score on a 69 yard touchdown reception to Kenny Stills. Stills was in motion and no one in the secondary picked him up. The blown coverage leads to a very fast Saints touchdown.
There must have been blown coverage on the play as Kenny Stills got wide open on the play for a touchdown.
Brees finds Ben Watson on first down for 17 yards. The Saints may have gotten away with a hold.
Sproles takes the kick out of the end zone, but is stopped on his own 13 yard line.
Bills 10 – Saints 7
Buffalo couldn’t score a touchdown, but Dan Carpenter hits a 37 yard field goal to give Buffalo its first lead of the game.
Scott Chandler almost came up with the touchdown reception about three different times on the play. Unfortunately, the ball falls incomplete.
Third and three following an encroachment penalty against New Orleans.
Lewis took another solid hit as he tried to find Chandler across the middle of the field. Third and 8 for the Bills.
Great job by Scott Chandler. He landed on a Saints player and bounced up to pick up the first down.
Scott Chandler makes up for his missed block and converts a first down.
Thad Lewis was hit hard after Scott Chandler missed a block. Lewis somehow got back up after a hard hit.
Buffalo had been losing the field position game today, but now they start off on their own 38 yard line to start the drive.
Aaron Williams blitzes Drew Brees who has to dump it down to Sproles. Four Buffalo Bills were awaiting Sproles.
The Saints get called for a delay of game penalty. 3rd and 18 now for the Saints.
Pierre Thomas starts the drive with a solid six yard run, but Brees gets sacked by Da’Norris Searcy on second down.
Bills 7 – Saints 7
Thad Lewis and the Bills marched down the field after Garrett Hartley missed his second field goal of the game. Lewis found Stevie Johnson four times on the drive, the last resulting in a 13 yard touchdown pass.
Stevie Johnson pulls in the Thad Lewis pass for a touchdown!
The Bills have marched the field on the Saints and face a 3rd and 2.
Choice has been running extremely hard for Buffalo this year. Very good third option at running back.
Thad Lewis audibled to that run play to Tashard Choice. The run went for 20 yards.
Three straight completions for Stevie Johnson. Lewis and Johnson seem to have built some chemistry.
Thad Lewis has found Stevie Johnson on consecutive plays, although the second pass went for a loss of 2 yards.
Garrett Hartley misses his second field goal of the day and Buffalo takes over.
Jairus Byrd goes for the interception, but the ball falls incomplete.
Brees is once again called for a false start penalty. Third and 11 now for the Saints.
Following the end of the first quarter, it’s 7-0 Saints. All things considered, Buffalo should be happy with the score considering Thad Lewis fumbled the ball twice. The Saints face a 3rd and 6 on Buffalo’s 16 yard line.
Brees gets called for the false start. 3rd and 6 now for the Saints.
Third and short for the Saints following a Jimmy Graham reception.
Aaron Williams almost intercepts a Drew Brees pass, but the Bills are called for roughing the passer.
Marcell Dareus was held on the Drew Brees scramble.
Drew Brees pitches the ball to Pierre Thomas on 4th down and Thomas picks up the first down.
Brees throws incomplete to Marques Colston on third down. The ball was a bit behind Colston. The Saints are going for it on 4th and 2.
3rd and 2 for the Saints following Marques Colston’s first reception of the game. Leodis McKelvin was injured on the play and is currently down on one knee.
Good special teams play by the Bills stops Darren Sproles from getting any gain on the punt return.
Thad Lewis looks flustered out there due to New Orleans’ pressure. Brian Moorman is in to punt.
Saints 7 – Bills 0
Thad Lewis’ second fumble leads to a Saints touchdown. On third and four, Drew Brees found Lance Moore for a 15 yard touchdown. Nickell Robey was on Moore in coverage and just missed swatting the ball away.
Nickell Robey had good coverage on the Moore touchdown, but the ball was placed perfectly by Brees.
Drew Brees finds Lance Moore on third and four for the touchdown.
The Saints face a 3rd and 4 here.
The Saints currently have -1 total yards today.
Cordy Glenn laid out a Saints player on second down, but the deep pass went incomplete. On the next play, Cam Jordan sacked Thad Lewis and stripped him of the ball.
Fred Jackson has run very well today considering he has a knee injury. Jackson is the heart and soul of the Bills.
Buffalo’s defense has looked sharp early. Hopefully that’ll keep up as the day goes on.
The Bills force the Saints to go three and out. Aaron Williams stopped Khiry Robinson on second and short and Kyle Williams tackled Robinson in the backfield on the following play.
The Saints take over at their own 40 yard line.
Dan Carpenter just missed to the right and we’re still tied at zero.
Dan Carpenter is coming in to attempt a 50 yard field goal.
The Saints are sending a lot of pressure at Thad Lewis and the Bills.
Bills move the chains following a T.J. Graham completion and Fred Jackson run.
David Hawthorne is giving Thad Lewis nightmares thus far as he sacks Lewis on first down.
Surprisingly, Thad Lewis is back in the game after taking quite a shot to the ribs. Fred Jackson gets the carry and takes it 15 yards.
Nickell Robey and Mario Williams sniff out a third down play and the Saints miss a 47 yard field goal. Buffalo’s defense comes up big on their first series.
Jerry Hughes comes up with a sack. Hughes is starting for Manny Lawson today.
Thad Lewis walked off the field on his own, but it’s not known if he’ll return to the game.
Jeff Tuel is the only other active quarterback for today’s game. Matt Flynn was listed as inactive.
Thad Lewis kept the ball on first down and took quite a shot from David Hawthorne. New Orleans recovered the fumble and Lewis appears to be injured.
The Bills won the coin toss today and didn’t defer. Instead, the team received the ball and will take over on their 20 yard line.
Dan Dierdorf just announced that Jimmy Graham will start for New Orleans today. It was speculated that Graham would only play third downs or when the Saints are in the red zone. It’ll be interesting to see how many total snaps Graham plays against Buffalo.
We’re minutes away from kickoff! The Bills haven’t played in New Orleans since 1998, but they are undefeated at the Superdome.
While you wait for kickoff, check out Eric Samulski’s preview of the top storylines and matchups in Bills vs. Saints.
New Orleans’ inactives against the Buffalo Bills:
QB Ryan Griffin
RB Mark Ingram
CB Rod Sweeting
RB Travaris Cadet
S Roman Harper
OL Terron Armstead
DE Tyrunn Walker
Tight end Jimmy Graham and defensive end Cameron Jordan are both active for today’s game. Having both players will provide a major boost for the Saints. Graham is Drew Brees’ favorite offensive weapon and Cameron Jordan is arguably the team’s best defensive player.
The Buffalo Bills’ inactives for today’s game with the Saints:
QB EJ Manuel
QB Matt Flynn
CB Justin Rogers
RB CJ Spiller
LB Ty Powell
OL Antoine McClain
LB Manny Lawson
The loss of Spiller will not be easy to overcome, but it’s the right call. Spiller has not been playing close to 100% so an extra week off will help him immensely.
Defensively, the Bills will miss Manny Lawson when it comes to stopping the run and in coverage. Jerry Hughes will start in Lawson’s place.