Stiller 20, Bills 3 �� Sep. 30, 2001 Game #2
Stillers-Jills Post Game Analysis & Grades:
���� Not even the offensively-devoid Stillers, nor their 120 yards of penalties, could throw this game away against the inept Buff Bills, who hung close before finally succumbing in the 4th quarter in a closer-than-it-looks 20-3 Stiller victory.�� Not until Kris Brown booted a FG with about 9:00 left to give the Stillers a 10-point lead could Stiller fans breath some sigh of relief in a dull, sloppy ballgame involving two teams that had very little interest in scoring an offensive touchdown.��
1.� On the game�s first possession, Stewart forces a hideous pass into triple coverage, but Bills� CB Winfield -- with an acre of green in front of him -- drops an easy INT that was right in his mitts.��
2.� Brent Alex strips out a fumble from RB T. Henry, and DeWayne deftly scoops it up and runs 63 yards for a TD, with a friendly escort from Bills� WR Peerless Price, who was well within a �diving reach� but never once made an attempt to dive or grab at DW, and even pulled off at about the 6-yard line.��
3.� Hank�s long punt return set up an 8-yard drive from the Bills� 20, but more importantly a K. Brown FG to give the Stillers a 10-0 lead.�
4.� Just before halftime, Buffalo marches down and has a 2nd and goal on the Stiller 6-inch line.� But a false start penalty on tackle M. Sullivan pushed the ball back, and on 3rd down from the 6, Johnson misses a wide-open Moulds on an easy out pass that should have been a TD.� Buffalo had to settle for a FG and never got closer than 7 points.�
5.� Fu takes a shotgun pitch and rumbles 22-yard for a late TD, bowling over 2 Bill defenders near the GL in the process.�
QB:� There�s a lot of games from years gone by to choose from, but this easily has to be one of the top 5 -- er, bottom 5 -- worst performances by Stewart in the past 5 seasons.�� To say that he stunk like a bucket of bovine manure would be too kind� an assessment.�� On a day in which he received such minimal pressure and pocket push from the Bills injury-ravaged defense, Stewart nonetheless couldn�t have hit the inside of a barn, even if he were standing inside of said barn.� On 3 occasions, Stewart, with no pass pressure at all, somehow managed to throw simple, short curls into the turf, about 8 feet short of the intended target.�� The near-INT on the game�s 1st possession was a typical Stewart telegraph-job, followed by a lollipop floater into triple-coverage.� The most unacceptable pass was the incompletion to Burress, who was wide open on a flag route in end zone.� Stewart had no pressure or harassment, yet underthrew Burress -- who was only some 33-yards in total distance from Stew -- with a pitiful throw that looked like he was throwing a medicine ball rather than a football.� Stew also took one sack today in which he was tentative and too slow-reacting to scoot from pressure.�� I also was enraged when the offense was flagged for a DOG penalty on a key 3rd down & 2.�� Stewart has been in this league long enough that he should be able to read a playclock and hustle his team up to the line and into the cadence.�� And please, let�s hear nothing of the 70% (15 of 22) completion rate...nearly every completion was less than 6 yards downfield.�� It was a sorry, lousy effort for any QB above the high school level.�� D-.
RB: �The rotund running back, Jerome Bettis, had a relatively carefree day, facing an injury depleted Bills defense that was missing its best defender and run-stuffer (Cowart), as well as Cowart�s replacement, Spoon.�� If you thought the French army was soft and sieve-like in either of the World Wars, the Bills� run defense actually was worse.�� With holes large enough to drive a �76 Impala through, Bettis easily gouged the Bills for 114 yards rushing.�� Zereoue got a rare carry on the team�s 2nd possession, and speedily bolted for a nice 32-yard gain.�� He then went straight to the bench and sat most of the rest of the game, carrying just 3 more times in mop-up.�� Fu caught 2 passes for almost nothing, but did take the shotgun pitchout 22 yards for a TD on a run that showed his quickness and plowing ability.�� A.
FB:� Jon Witman got all the work at FB, and threw a couple adequate blocks.�� Surprisingly enough, the 2-yard out pass to Witman -- long a staple of the Stillers� vaunted passing offense -- was not used even once today.�� B.
WR:� Hines Ward led the way with 9 grabs for 79 yards, almost exclusively on short curls, outs, and 0-step hitches.�� Ward did show great heart and RAC on the 17-yard gain, which was actually a 0-step hitch.�� Frankly, I was surprised at the absurd softee cushion the Jills� CBs were giving Ward, as though he were Isaac Bruce.�� Plex had a nice snare on one crosser, but on an identical play later in the game, he dropped the ball.�� Spike was also thrown 3 deepish lobs down the sideline.�� One was way overthrown; one Spike mis-timed & jumped too early; and one he was grabbed by the CB for a def. holding call.� Troy caught 2 dinky screen passes.� Shaw was mostly ignored and had no receptions.� Burress committed a foolish 15-yard penalty deep in Buffalo territory.�� B.
TE:� Breuner, the �vastly under-rated receiver� and the God of TEs, had exactly zero receptions.� His run blocking, though, was solid.� Jerame Tuman, as usual, caught nothing.�� He also committed a foolish illegal formation penalty.� B-.
OL:� The O-line had a nice luxury today, facing a ravaged defense that also lost DE P. Hansen midway thru the game.� On the whole, the line run-blocked well and gave Stew very good protection.� However, there was a fair number of poor breakdowns by this crew.� Tylski, Hartings, and Faneca took turns politely allowing DT Pat Williams to blast into the backfield and disrupt many a play.�� Gandy committed a hands-to-face penalty.�� The bright side was that M. Smith actually held off his rusher on most occasions, and the line push was pretty good all day long.�� B.
DL:� Like the O-line, this D-line unit was fortuitous enough to face a ravaged Bill O-line that lost another player (ex-Stiller Piss Ferris) to injury.�� Aided by the Buffalo woes, this unit played as good a football game as a Stiller D-line has played in the past 6 years.�� Clancy and Hampton got strong push on the center, and stuffed the middle pretty well.�� A. Smith and Bailey spent as much time in the Bills� backfield as Travis Henry did.�� As much as I singled out Bailey in preseason for his fine work, I�m very pleased with his showing thus far, combining quickness, agility, strength, and an on-field presence and awareness.� A.
LB:� This crew, which should be the strength of this defense anyway, had a strong all-around game today.�� Joey Porter was once again flying around like a demon possessed.� His sack of Johnson was one for the highlight tape, in which he adroitly swooped around the LT with electric quickness and snared Johnson with a play that was entirely reminiscent of Greg Lloyd.� KenBell was very active in the run-stuffing department, tying Brent with 7 solos.�� Bell also had a key harassment on Johnson on the 2nd & goal play before halftime, which forced Johnson to throw a feeble, off-target pass.�� Holmes helped stuff the run, and forced a fumble when he blasted Larry Centers after a reception.�� Big Jason Gildon chipped in a couple of routine tackles, but did nothing to apply pressure on Johnson except when totally unblocked.� Gildon did record his first sack -- a Dong Sack -- when, sitting back in short zone coverage, he met and stopped a flushed, scrambling Johnson short of the LOS.� Gildon was also totally fooled on the 3rd-and-2 reverse, but Chad Scott stayed at home and sniffed out the play.� A.
DB:� The secondary was rarely challenged downfield, due to the pressure by the front 7.�� For the most part, the coverage appeared to be decent.� Riemersma, as do all TEs, abused the Stillers, snaring 2 balls for 35 yards, and on another deep seamer, drawing a holding flag on Simmons.� Flowers committed an unsportsmanlike penalty, and later got nicked up a lil� and left the game.� Brent had a strong game in run support, tying for the team lead with 7 solos.� Brent also forced the fumble that DW scooped up and returned 63 yards for the big TD.� Chad had a nice INT and long return in the 4th quarter, and sniffed & stuffed an important key 3rd-and-2 reverse.� B+.
Spec Teams:� After the fiasco on opening day in Jax, the special teams had nowhere to go but up.� Fortunately, they did just that, in a big way.� Leading the way was Hank Poteat, who ripped off 2 excellent punt returns to give the Stillers good field position and a spark of momentum.�� The coverage teams did good jobs, aided ably by backup LB Mike Jones, who was deemed incapable of helping on special teams in Week 1 and was therefore deactivated.�� Kris did miss a cake FG, but later redeemed himself by hitting 2 others, including an impressive 52-yarder.� The lone sour spot was the penalties -- 1 each by Simmons and Townsend, and 2 by the ST captain, John Fiala.� A-.
Off Coord:� Mularkey stayed with the basic, Dink & Dump Offense, with virtually no changes at all from the Jax loss.�� With the gross ineptitude against the run by of the Bills� front 7, this worked out ok today.� Still, many warts were evident in this eked-out win.�� Take the first series.� Bettis rumbles for 6, and then 7.�� Ward catches a curl for 8.� Bus rumbles for 8 and another first down.�� Then Stewart throws a bomb to Plex, incomplete.�� If you noticed, there was no play-action, no pump-fake, no nothing on this play...which, after we�d chewed up Buffalo the first 4 plays of the game, you�d have to ask, �Why not ??��� Then there�s the DOG penalty on the critical 3rd and 2, early in the 2nd quarter.� While the QB deserved some blame for this, it�s pretty obvious that the OC took about 19 seconds too long to get the playcall into the huddle, which is unacceptable.�� Then there�s the weak-kneed, meek playcalling against one of the worst -- if not THE worst -- defenses in all of football.�� The final stats -- 4 of 12 -- in 3rd down conversion help tell the story.�� You can�t covert anything if you don�t try to convert.� Witness the gutless 3rd & 7 screen play to Troy in the 2nd qtr.�� Or the 3rd & goal screen to Fu, on the Bills� 13-yard line, where screens rarely ever work, that netted a whopping 1 yard.�� Or the 3rd & 10 screen to Troy in the 4th quarter that gained a prolific 1 yard.�� Were it not for DeWayne�s TD return, and Hank�s long punt return, it�s doubtful that we score more than 13 points today.�� I�m not quite sure how my TV set will possibly survive yet another season of gutless, futile playcalling.�� D.
Def Coord:� Give Tim Lewis some credit for doing everything that he FAILED to do in the debacle in J-ville 3 weeks ago, in which his crew played a flaccid, passive defense more befitting a choral society than a football team.�� In today�s game, Lewis sent considerable pressure after Slob Johnson, and the resulting pressure overwhelmed the o-line and the QB himself.� Lewis also had Joey Porter lined up all over the field, which allowed Porter to wreak havoc the ENTIRE afternoon.� The defense played today the way it should play every week -- tough, aggressive, error-inducing football -- if this team has any chance of overcoming its inept offense.� A.�
Head Coach:� Cowher had his men fired up and ready to play physical football, something that was pitifully amiss in the shameful blowout down in Jax.�� On the downside, the team committed a dozen penalties, showing a clear lack of discipline, which is the head coach�s job to instill.� On top of that, the dullardly Cowher committed 1 of those penalties himself, with a foolish, boneheaded unsportsmanlike conduct flag as a result of his berating the refs for Lee Flower�s penalty.� B-.
���� It�s nice to get the season�s first win, especially after the 3-week layoff.�� Still, this is the kind of win that feels like you just beat a 6-year old in �H-O-R-S-E� -- hardly satisfying and not really something to crow about.�� For over 3 quarters, the Stillers fiddle-faddled and struggled against the youngest and least experienced team in the entire league, and a team that has been devastated by injury during the past month.�� The Stillers played marginally good enough to beat a lowly team like the Bills, but if they cannot get better production from the passing game, this will be every bit as long of a season as �99 was.� Changes, to include looking at Tommy Maddox further down the road, absolutely must be made to this pathetic offense if the team has any desire to reach the playoffs.��