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Mark Gaughan’s 10 Plays: Cousins capitalizes on overload blitz

1. Blitz foiled again. Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman just can’t seem to time their blitz packages right this season.

Washington beat a Bills blitz on Kirk Cousins’ 13-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. It put the Bills behind, 14-0.

Ryan was gambling. It was a third-and-goal play from the 13. The conventional defensive play would be to drop into coverage, force a dump-off underneath and make a tackle. The Bills opted to run an overload blitz off left tackle.

Ryan is the master of the overload edge blitz, but Washington just happened to call the perfect play against it, a roll to the right. Sure enough, the Bills were outflanked off right tackle. Mario Williams did his job by taking away the shuffle pass to the running back, so Cousins took off. Preston Brown got blocked up by guard Spencer Long. The next best player in position to make a tackle was safety Corey Graham, who got blocked by Jordan Reed. Those were the only blocks Cousins needed.

2. Cheap deep. Washington’s 77-yard, third-quarter TD pass to DeSean Jackson was a back-breaker. Graham had coverage down the left sideline and did a good job dipping his shoulder to squeeze Jackson toward the boundary. But the pass was underthrown, and Jackson came back to the ball. Fair enough. But instead of a 35-yard gain, it turned into a TD because safety Bacarri Rambo took a bad angle over the top and wasn’t in position to haul Jackson down.

Jackson has 4.35 speed in the 40-yard dash. It was his 35th career TD of 30 yards or more. Remind us why Chip Kelly cut him in Philadelphia?

3. Second and goal. As awful as the Bills played, they still could have won if they cashed in from the 1 late in the second quarter. On second and 1, Washington defensive tackle Kedric Golston picked up Bills center Eric Wood and threw him to the ground, which slowed LeSean McCoy’s run off left guard. McCoy was stopped just short of the goal line. The Bills actually had good push off the left side of the line.

4. Third and goal. Golston pushed Wood back again off the snap, and that created a big gap that Will Compton crashed through to tackle McCoy. Richie Incognito couldn’t get a piece of Compton, because the linebacker had such an open gap to attack. The Bills’ scheme didn’t do the O-line any favors. Buffalo didn’t create any indecision by motioning anybody before the snap.

5. Fourth and goal. Taylor overthrew a fade to Watkins. Maybe the presence of Golston and big Terrance Knighton discouraged the Bills from a QB sneak. OK, how about running from the spread on two of the three plays? And if you’re going to throw the fade, don’t do it on fourth down.

“We thought we had something we liked and we just missed on the execution of it,” Ryan said.

6. Encroachment! Washington had no intention of snapping the ball on a fourth-and-1 play in the second quarter. Sure enough, Stefan Charles jumped. Four plays later, Cousins made it 14-0.

7. Watkins deep. It was another beautiful deep pass from Taylor, which pulled the Bills within 28-17. Watkins took an inside release and blew past cornerback Bashaud Breeland for a 48-yard TD.

8. Too easy. The Bills’ defense has had trouble getting set before the snap on too many plays this year. Washington seemed to catch the Bills flat-footed on an 18-yard TD pass to Jordan Reed that made the score 21-0. Pierre Garcon and Reed lined up wide left. Rambo was the safety on the left. Garcon went in motion and ran a post. Rambo followed him across the field, which probably was the key mistake, because Graham was in position to defend him. Reed ran a slant. Leodis McKelvin had outside leverage and no chance. Slot cornerback Nickell Robey didn’t look quite ready for the snap and stayed underneath, although he could have trailed Reed.

“We tried everything, every coverage,” Ryan said. “We just weren’t executing the way we’re capable of playing.”

9. Gillislee can run. Mike Gillislee showed impressive speed on his 60-yard run for the Bills’ first TD. Gillislee ran a 4.48 40 out of the University of Florida.

10. Fade TD. McKelvin didn’t have a good game. He was beaten for Washington’s last TD, a 5-yard pass to Garcon.

email: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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