SCOTT’S REPORT CARD
COACHING: Chan Gailey did a good job of attacking the depleted Bengals secondary in the second half and keeping his team composed despite 21-point deficit. The Bills defense also made some decent adjustments in second half. Grade: B-plus
OFFENSE: Ryan Fitzpatrick shook off a bad first half and guided the Bills on a touchdown drive during the all-important first series of the third quarter. Stevie Johnson continues to be the break-through Bill of the year with 8 catches for 137 yards and 3 TDs Sunday and for the second straight week Fred Jackson ran like he did last season, when he eclipsed 1,000 yards. Grade: A
DEFENSE: Carson Palmer had his way with the Bills in the first half, but Buffalo’s D pitched a second-half shutout and produced three takeaways, including an interception – stop the presses! – by a defensive back. Drayton Florence returned a fumble for a score and George Wilson had a huge interception in the end zone. Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco were limited to six receptions for 91 yards and two scores. Grade: C
SPECIAL TEAMS: Bills missed C.J. Spiller on kickoffs and they had a so-so day covering kicks as Bengals managed 166 yards on 7 returns. Normally dependable Rian Lindell missed a field goal inside the 40 for the first time in 26 attempts. Grade: C.
OVERALL: Fitzpatrick invoked “there’s-no-quit-in-this-team” cliché, but it’s true. Bills easily could have folded, but they continue playing as if there is a playoff berth at stake, and that’s a credit to them and Gailey. This was the Bills 10 consecutive victory vs. Cincinnati and second win in 10 starts this season. We’ll get an idea of how much Buffalo has improved when the Pittsburgh Steelers invade the Ralph Sunday. Grade: B-plus.
Award-winning columnist and author Scott Pitoniak has covered the Bills since 1985 and has written five books about the team, including the recently published, Buffalo Bills Football Vault: The First 50 Seasons, which is available at any book store, the Bills team stores and Amazon.com. You can read more by Scott at www.scottpitoniak.com . He will be signing copies of his recently published books at the Lift Bridge Book Store in Brockport, Saturday, Nov. 27, at 2 p.m.