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First-quarter analysis: Big plays killing the Bills

By Jay Skurski

It took all of 4 seconds for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to jump ahead of the Buffalo Bills today in Raymond James Stadium.

Buccaneers running back Bobby Rainey raced 80 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown on Tampa’s second play from scrimmage to give his team a 7-0 lead. Rainey blew past Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso to get into the open field.

It was a career-long run for Rainey, who took over as the starter for the Bucs after season-long injuries to Doug Martin and Mike James.

Bucs hit another big one: Tampa Bay went up, 14-3, on a 38-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Mike Glennon to receiver Vincent Jackson. Glennon scrambled right, then heaved a bomb to the end zone that Jackson tracked down despite being interfered with by Bills cornerback Nickell Robey.

Penalty help: A pair of personal foul penalties against Tampa Bay assisted the Bills in the first quarter. The first came against linebacker Dekoda Watson, who ran into punter Brian Moorman. The Bills, however, were not able to capitalize and Moorman punted again four plays later. On Buffalo’s next possession, Bucs linebacker Mason Foster was penalized for hitting defenseless Bills receiver Stevie Johnson. The Bills got a 40-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter on the drive.

Lineup changes: The Bills started rookie seventh-round draft pick Chris Gragg at tight end in place of Scott Chandler. Buffalo also benched fullback Frank Summers, making him inactive in favor of Evan Rodriguez.

Stephon Gilmore having a sophomore season to forget

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills and many observers believe it will happen eventually, but this will not be the year cornerback Stephon Gilmore establishes himself as a shutdown defender.

In Thursday's paper, Buffalo News senior columnist Jerry Sullivan takes a look at Gilmore's unspectacular sophomore season.

Gilmore missed the first five games while recovering from a broken wrist and played his first two games with a heavy wrap on his arm. Unable to get physical with receivers, he has been targeted frequently by opposing quarterbacks since he returned. tracks every play, and receivers covered by Gilmore have caught 30 of 49 throws for 455 yards and a touchdown for a 98.6 passer rating.

By comparison, Leodis McKelvin has allowed 38 catches on 77 targets for 480 yards and two TDs, a 77.8 opponent passer rating. Nickell Robey has allowed 24 catches on 49 targets for 225 yards and two TDs, a 58.6 opponent passer rating.

Here is a breakdown of Gilmore's performance in each of his seven games:

  • Week Six versus Cincinnati Bengals: three targets/three catches for 78 yards.
  • Week Seven at Miami Dolphins: four targets/three catches for 72 yards.
  • Week Eight at New Orleans Saints: one target/zero catches.
  • Week Nine versus Kansas City Chiefs: 12 targets/eight catches for 72 yards (Dwayne Bowe 11 targets/seven catches for 67 yards).
  • Week 10 at Pittsburgh Steelers: 11 targets/seven catches for 95 yards and a TD (Antonio Brown six targets/three catches for 58 yards).
  • Week 11 versus New York Jets: six targets/two catches for 45 yards.
  • Week 13 versus Atlanta Falcons: 12 targets/seven catches for 93 yards (Roddy White five targets/four catches for 48 yards).

Gilmore has no interceptions and three pass breakups. He has made 21 tackles.

Second-quarter analysis: Jamaal Charles being held in check

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills' defense is doing a good job of preventing the big play today against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Bills have given up only 115 yards of total offense through the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. In particular, Buffalo has done a good job against Chiefs star running back Jamaal Charles, limiting him to 26 yards on six carries and only 8 yards on five catches. 

Linebacker Kiko Alonso made a terrific play against Charles, dropping him for a loss of 4 yards on a third-and-7 play just before halftime to force a punt.

Continue reading "Second-quarter analysis: Jamaal Charles being held in check" »

Midseason penalty report: Bills still have flag concerns

By Tim Graham

After four games, the Buffalo Bills were having an historically bad time with penalties.

They were on track to commit the second-most in club history for the most yards and first downs granted.

At the 2013 midpoint, the Bills have curbed their malfeasance a bit. Although the Bills still are awarding gift first downs at a record rate, they're on pace to finish with the 10th-most penalties and the eighth-most yards lost.


Continue reading "Midseason penalty report: Bills still have flag concerns" »

Nickell Robey's weekly message: 'This is what y'all missed out on'

By Tim Graham

That chip on Nickell Robey's shoulder probably isn't going away any time soon.

The lone undrafted rookie to play for the Buffalo Bills on opening day recorded his first NFL interception Sunday and returned it for a touchdown against Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Robey doesn't sound like a guy who'll be content with that, not after the entire league passed him over in the draft because he supposedly was too small to play cornerback.

"It's all about sending a message," Robey told me Thursday at his locker. "Every game I want to show, 'This is what y'all missed out on. I'm here, and I'm here to stay.' "

Continue reading "Nickell Robey's weekly message: 'This is what y'all missed out on'" »

Nickell Robey up for Rookie of the Week award

By Jay Skurski

Buffalo Bills cornerback Nickell Robey is one of five nominees for the NFL's Pepsi Next Rookie of the Week award.

Robey recorded two tackles, three passes defensed and an interception that he returned for a touchdown -- punctuated by a "Florida Grind" -- during the Bills' 32-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

The other four nominees this week are:

    • Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers: Totaled 108 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in his team's 31-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
    • Geno Smith, QB, New York Jets: Went 17 of 33 for 233 yards, rushed for 32 yards and accounted for two touchdowns in his team's 30-27 overtime victory against the New England Patriots.
    • Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins: Caught nine passes for 134 yards and a touchdown in his team's 45-41 victory over the Chicago Bears.
    • D.J. Fluker, RT, San Diego Chargers: Fluker moved to left tackle and helped the Chargers rush for 158 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-6 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Fans can vote by clicking here.

Audio: Reviewing big Bills victory with Shredd and Ragan

By Tim Graham

There was a lot to take in from the Buffalo Bills' impressive 23-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

This morning's segment with Shredd and Ragan on 103.3 The Edge included a lot more happy talk than usual after a Bills road game.

  • Fred Jackson as a mythical Western New York figure.
  • Undrafted rookie Nickell Robey's inspired play.
  • What to make of Thad Lewis.
  • Mario Williams coming up big at the end of the game.
  • Whether the Bills missed out by not returning Brandon Gibson's interest.
  • How few alleged Dolfans actually give a damn about their team.

The audio file is 23 minutes of auditory euphoria. If you choose to listen, your life will be impacted in ways you never could've imagined.

Game ball: Bills 23, Dolphins 21

Points after: Bills 23, Dolphins 21

723519 McCoy Sports Bill#67

By Tim Graham

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' victory over the Miami Dolphins in Sun Life Stadium ...

What it means: The Bills are 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the AFC East. They avoided a three-game losing streak and won their first division road game in nine tries.

Welcome back: Dan Carpenter, cut by the Dolphins this year, kicked a 31-yard field goal with 33 seconds to play. He made a 39-yarder in the second quarter and a 20-yarder in the fourth quarter. His Dolphins replacement, Caleb Stugis, missed a 51-yard attempt in the second quarter.

Bills MVP: Mario Williams was quiet for much of the afternoon but notched a pair of crucial sacks in the fourth quarter. The Bills hadn't sacked Ryan Tannehill until there were seven minutes left. Williams beat right tackle Tyson Clabo for a pancake. Williams then caused the fumble that Kyle Williams recovered with 2:48 to play.

Play of the game: Mario Williams' strip was pivotal to setting up the winning field goal. Special mention to cornerback Nickell Robey, who returned Tannehill's first pass attempt 19 yards for a touchdown 93 seconds into the game. 

Player of the game: A free agent this past offseason, Brandon Gibson wanted to play alongside his buddy, Stevie Johnson, with the Bills. The Bills never called. Maybe they regretted not acting as they watched Gibson catch five passes for 40 yards and two touchdowns. 

Dolphins play of the game: Gibson's first touchdown was highlight-reel quality. With time running out in the first half and Miami on Buffalo's 13-yard line, Tannehill dumped it to Gibson at the 10. Gibson found some pace to the left and, from about the 3-yard line, made a tumbling leap over defensive backs Da'Norris Searcy and Aaron Williams for the touchdown with 21 seconds left.

Preliminary injury report: Robey injured his left shoulder while covering a punt in the second quarter. He returned to the game. ... Linebacker Manny Lawson left with a hamstring injury in the third quarter.

Coming up: The Bills visit the New Orleans Saints next Sunday in the Superdome.

First-quarter analysis: Robey plays bigger than his size

By Jay Skurski

Cornerback Nickell Robey has been a heck of a find for the Buffalo Bills this season.

An undrafted rookie free agent out of Southern California, Robey made the biggest play of his young professional career today in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at SunLife Stadium.

Robey perfectly read Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and stepped in front of receiver Brandon Gibson for his first career interception, which he took 19 yards for a touchdown.

Robey is undersized at 5-foot-8, 165 pounds but plays bigger than his size. He’s been fearless as the nickel cornerback, and stepped right into the lineup in Week One. Robey’s play has helped the Bills overcome the loss of Ron Brooks, who was expected to serve as the third corner coming out of training camp.

Continue reading "First-quarter analysis: Robey plays bigger than his size" »

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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 |

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 |

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 |