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Bills defense historically awful

By Tim Graham

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Buffalo Bills' defense was supposed to be among the best in the NFL this year.

The past two games, defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt's unit has been among the worst all-time.

The San Francisco 49ers' offense annihilated the Bills in almost every imaginable way, posting a 45-3 victory Sunday in Candlestick Park. The Bills allowed a team-record 621 yards.

Coupled with the embarrassing 52-28 loss to the New England Patriots last week, the Bills' vaunted defense has allowed 97 points, 62 first downs and 1,201 yards. They have recorded two of their three worst statistical games in franchise history in the past seven days.

"After last week, I would've bet whatever that this team would've came out and played a lot better than we played today," Bills linebacker Nick Barnett said. "Now going on two weeks and giving up that many run yards and all the big plays we gave up, it's deflating.

"But I don't lose hope, and I'm going to keep striking and keep pushing forward. I know we have potential, and potential is such a dangerous word, but I know it's there. We just have to show it."

No NFL team had ever allowed an opposing quarterback to throw for 300 yards and rush for 300 yards as a team. Last week, the Bills became only the second team in NFL history to allow a 300-yard passer, two 100-yard receivers and two 100-yard rushers.

The Bills are the first since the 1950 New York Yanks (that's not a typo) to surrender more than 550 yards in consecutive games.

Bills head coach Chan Gailey took the blame for not having his players prepared. But the face of the Bills' supposedly fearsome defense, $100 million man Mario Williams, shot down Gailey's declaration.

"No, no, no, no," Williams said at his locker stall. "You don't get beat like that from your head coach. I don't care what you say.

"He's not out there, going to get sacks. He's not out there, covering receivers. He's not out there, getting turnovers.

"From No. 1 to No. 11 on defense, this is all on us. ... This is no head coach, no position coach."

The Bills were supposed to have a scary-good pass rush. They have one sack in their past two games. Williams sometimes lined up on the right side, something he had done rarely in the previous four games, but the different looks didn't help.

The Bills failed to sack 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who had one of the greatest games of his career with 303 yards and three touchdowns. Smith and gadget quarterback Colin Kaepernick combined for 88 rushing yards.

Niners running back Frank Gore rushed 14 times for 106 yards and a touchdown. Kendall Hunter ran for 81 yards on just 11 carries.

"Just huge plays," Williams said. "If it's a run for 15 yards, a pass for 40 yards, you can't win the game off of huge plays. That's on everybody."

Williams refused to say the Bills quit, but kept saying they didn't finish.

"Not with that score," Williams said. "At the end of the day, you can keep chopping wood, but for them to go out there and score, you can't look at anybody and say we did [finish].

"That's not quitting. We were just sitting there, letting the guy run through, letting the guy catch the ball or getting out of gaps on purpose. That's quitting. We just didn't finish."

To borrow the line Bucky Gleason delivered in the Candlestick Park press box, imagine what the game would've looked like if the Bills did quit.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | [email protected]


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | [email protected]


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | [email protected]

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