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Jay Skurski's Bills-Chiefs report card: 'Average' is good enough for this big Buffalo win

Grading the Bills

RUNNING GAME: C

In a word – meh. The Bills stuck with the run, racking up 37 attempts. Those produced just 104 yards though, a meager average of 2.8 per carry. LeSean McCoy continued his boom-or-bust season, being held to 49 yards on 22 carries. Negative plays continue to be a problem for the running game. There were seven carries that went for losses. Travaris Cadet has been a bright spot. He gained 28 yards on six attempts. I liked the college-option style run by Tyrod Taylor, who kept it instead of pitching to McCoy. That has to put defenses on alert.

PASSING GAME: C

We’ve seen this game from Tyrod Taylor before. He finished 19 of 29 for 183 yards and one touchdown and didn’t throw any interceptions. The touchdown pass to rookie Zay Jones in the first quarter was a beauty. Taylor also missed some throws that the team needs him to make. Even his late completion to Nick O’Leary needed to be a better throw. If O’Leary catches the ball in stride, the offense might be able to put the game away. From way up high inside Arrowhead Stadium, it was easy to see the receivers weren’t getting a ton of separation.

RUN DEFENSE: A

Was this the same team that gave up 298 yards to the Saints a couple weeks ago? It certainly didn’t look like it. To borrow one of coach Sean McDermott’s terms, the Bills’ “gap integrity” was much improved Sunday. Deandre Coleman has provided some help on the interior of the defense. Rookie Matt Milano started earning some playing time, and had a pair of tackles. Defensive end Jerry Hughes made four tackles, two that went for losses. The Bills weren’t fooled by the Chiefs’ attempts to get them running the other way.

PASS DEFENSE: A

Rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White got the interception to seal the win. He wasn’t tested much, which is a sign of good coverage. Fellow cornerback E.J. Gaines didn’t give up any big plays. Both safeties, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, patrolled the middle of the field and mostly kept things in front of them. Five completions to Kansas City running backs produced just 22 yards, so credit the linebackers for playing well in space. Tackling was solid by the entire defense.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A-

We’re not going to knock Stephen Hauschka too much for his miss in the first half. He wasn’t set, and the Bills rushed his attempt. Hauschka redeemed himself by making field goals from 56 and 49 yards later in the game. Brandon Tate muffed a punt, but was able to recover. He averaged 10.2 yards on six punt returns. Colton Schmidt was excellent, placing four of his seven punts inside the Kansas City 20-yard line and averaging 41.1 net yards. The Bills’ average field position was 13 yards better than Kansas City.

COACHING: C

Let’s give an A to Leslie Frazier and a D to Rick Dennison. For a week, the Bills fixed whatever was wrong on defense. Frazier dialed up pressure at the right time and had the Bills prepared for whatever the Chiefs called. Dennison, however, called an absolutely uninspired game. Can you really not trust Richie Incognito and Eric Wood to pave the way for 1 yard twice in the second half? Clock management at the end of the first half, coupled with conservative play calling, also left a lot to be desired.

Grading the Chiefs

RUNNING GAME: F

It’s usually not a good thing when your quarterback is the leading rusher. Rookie Kareem Hunt could never get going, finishing with just 17 yards on 11 carries. Kansas City’s offensive line got manhandled at the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Alex Smith gained 35 yards on five carries, with most of that coming when he escaped the backfield after being unable to find anyone open to throw to. Akeem Hunt lost 10 yards – 10! – on one carry alone.

PASSING GAME: F

The calls for Patrick Mahomes are going to intensify in Kansas City this week. Alex Smith looked awful in the first half, going 4 of 11 for 41 yards. Smith found his rhythm somewhat in the second half, but threw away any hopes of stealing a win late. Receiver Tyreek Hill was contained, gaining just 41 yards on seven catches. The same goes for tight end Travis Kelce, who had 39 yards on three receptions. Smith was sacked twice, but pressured several other times as left tackle Eric Fisher and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz struggled with the Bills’ speed off the edge.

RUN DEFENSE: B+

Old friend Reggie Ragland balled out, finishing with a team-high nine tackles, including three for losses. Linebacker Frank Zombo had a pair of tackles for loss. Defensive end Chris Jones made a pair of tackles, including one for loss, and was a presence in the middle of the Kansas City defensive line. For a run defense that ranked 29th in the NFL coming into the game, holding McCoy to 2.2 yards per carry is a win.

PASS DEFENSE: B

Cornerback Marcus Peters will be kicking himself for missing an interception on the Bills’ first play of the second half. Taylor floated a ball that looked like Peters had a bead on, but he somehow missed it, allowing Charles Clay to make a 33-yard catch. Outside that, the Chiefs’ coverage was pretty good. Safety Daniel Sorensen had one of Kansas City’s two sacks, dropping Taylor for an 11-yard loss on a third-and-1 play in the second half.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C

Hill, one of the game’s most dangerous punt returners, didn’t do anything. He gained zero yards on two attempts. Punter Dustin Colquitt got off to a tough start, kicking line drives that gave Tate a chance to return them. Colquitt, though, rebounded to average 41.1 net yards on eight punts. Kicker Harrison Butker made a 45-yard field goal.

COACHING: D

The Chiefs had one first down in the first half. Against a Buffalo defense that allowed an average of 45 points per game over the last three weeks, that’s pathetic. Andy Reid said after the game he won’t consider a quarterback switch, but at some point he has to consider it. Smith looks like a shell of the player who was being talked about as an MVP candidate a couple months ago.

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