Thaddeus Lewis came off the practice squad last week to become the starter against a Bengal defense that had just abused Tom Brady and stopped his consecutive game TD passing streak at 34,000 games. Virtually everyone expected Thad to be hung out to dry and sent to the lions.
But Thaddeus Maximus was a gladiator. He threw four bombs, all right on the money. He threw a fourth down TD which couldn’t have been prettier. He perfectly executed a QB draw for the first TD on a length of the field opening drive. He displayed a quality NFL arm, a knowledge and command of the Hackett Hurry-up, and showed a ton of guts. He stood tall against a ferocious Bengal rush and didn’t back down when he started getting repeatedly knocked on his Thaddeus Gluteus. He came up biggest down by 14 points in the 4th quarter, throwing two improbable touchdowns, both on beautiful balls. We should have known he was smart, graduating in three years from Duke.
Thad made few mistakes, outside of carelessness holding the ball when running, and missing 3-4 open receivers when he had the time, but overall it was impossible to not be impressed and encouraged. He even played with a sprained foot a lot of the second half, baddeus enough to be sporting a walking boot after the game.
Speaking of which, the Bills gave the walking boot to LG Colin Brown this week, after starting Bronco Legursky against the Bengals, after promoting Mark Asper the friendly ghost to the active roster this week. This new front office and staff doesn’t mess around, and is not afraid to blatantly admit mistakes without ever publicly admitting them. Colin Brown was not a starting OG in this league. The problem wasn’t as much letting Levitre go as much as only having one backup with any NFL experience, and he got hurt.
The front office and coaching staff also admitted without admitting the mistake with Jeff Tuel, thinking he was ready to play. They leapfrogged Tuel with Thaddeus, and then signed two more QBs in Dennis Dixon and Matt Flynn, who would both probably play before Tuel.
Coach Marrone came under a lot of heat for a hindsight is 20/20 call to go for a TD instead of the sure 3 points at the Bengal goal line, but I will not badmouth him for it. Hindsight may be 20/20 but foresight is 50/50, and I had little problem with trying to punch it down their throats at that point in the game. Coach Hackett continues to get grief from Bills fans, who don’t seem to realize that there are only two teams in the entire league to score 20 or more points every week; the Broncos and the Bills.
But the Bengal game was bungled by the defense, not the patchwork offense. Kiko had an astounding 22 tackles but was chasing a lot more than forcing plays. The legend of Kiko now leads the NFL in tackles and tied for the lead in INTs.
The return of Stephon Gilmore and Injairus Byrd showed a lot more rust than the team hoped. Gilmore was wearing a futon attached to his wrist and he couldn’t fight off blocks or make tackles. Neither played a whole lot but failed to make the team better.
For the first time, Mike Pettine’s Defense let us down. The Bengals, led by Jay Gruden’s coordinating and Andy Dalton’s near flawless execution, constantly looked a play and a step ahead of the Bills, who couldn’t stop a swing pass or a WR screen is the game depended on it, which it did. The entire team tackled ball carriers with the efficiency of the U.S. government tackling debt issues. Granted, the Bengals made some spectacular plays, but the Bills were repeatedly beat at the LOS which was as big a reason as any for the LOSS.
On offense, we surely and sorely missed Stevie Johnson. CJ was still limping going into the game, and hurt on each ensuing carry. Marquise Goodwin looks like a good one. Scott Chandler looks back to being reliable.
TJ Graham caught a few balls but wanted to drop most of them, and did drop a bomb. Bills fans are about to drop a bomb on TJ.
Special teams continued to confound fans and dramatically affect outcomes. Dan Carpenter kicks like Jesus. Brian Moorman made a triumphant return by booming punts, including an incredible first kick OB at the one. Marcus Easley continues to KO kick returners inside the 15 on the KO team. And yet the PR may have lost us the game for the second week in a row, which made Danny Crossman look cross-eyed.
And now we come to DolphinHunt Week. The Bills visit the Fins on Sunday, desperate for a win and hungry for sushi. Thaddeus is back practicing from his foot sprain as EJ Manuel is still 4-6 weeks from playing. Come on down to the Bison Dome and grill some fish.