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Weak protection led to flood of sacks by Lions

Nothing rubs an offensive lineman the wrong way more than giving up a sack. That means the Buffalo Bills' front five ought to be pretty angry these days.

Leaky pass protection was a big difference in Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Detroit Lions. Bewildered by the blitz and four-man rushes, the Bills allowed five sacks to the Lions' defensive line, which had none in the previous four games. When the Lions weren't sacking quarterback J.P. Losman they had him running for his life to avoid pressure.

There was plenty of blame to go around. Bills guards Tutan Reyes and Chris Villarrial and center Melvin Fowler had trouble keeping Detroit's Pro Bowl defensive tackle Shaun Rogers and end/tackle Cory Redding out of the backfield. Right tackle Jason Peters struggled against defensive end Kalimba Edwards.

But no one exemplified the Bills' shoddy protection more than left tackle Mike Gandy. Matched against Lions defensive end James Hall, Gandy was beaten repeatedly by speed rushes to the outside and inside spin moves. The result was a career day by Hall, who finished with 3 1/2 sacks.

Here's a closer look at each of Detroit's five sacks:

>First Quarter

Second and 2 from the Bills' 34: The Lions' six-man rush led to their first sack. RB Willis McGahee picked up blitzing LB Paris Lenon. Redding loops around from left to right. Reyes sees the stunt, but reacts too late. Hall runs around Gandy and helps Redding bring Losman down for a 9-yard loss.

Third and 11 from the Bills' 25: On a four-man rush, Hall uses his quickness to beat Gandy around the edge. McGahee tries to chip Hall, but doesn't get enough to stop Hall's momentum. Edwards also beats RT Jason Peters to the outside, but Hall gets to Losman first for a 10-yard loss.

>Second Quarter

Second and 7 from the Lions' 20: Hall is double teamed by Gandy and Reyes, but Fowler loses his one-on-one battle against Rogers, who veers outside to get away from Fowler. Losman has time to throw the ball, but hesitates because of Hall's penetration. Rogers grabs a backpedaling Losman and spins him down for a 15-yard loss.

>Third Quarter

Second and 7 from the Lions' 30: The Lions rush four men. Hall takes a wide angle on an outside rush, causing Gandy to lunge. Gandy whiffs badly and Hall drills Losman from behind, causing a fumble that Rogers recovers at the 38.

>Fourth Quarter

Second and 10 at the Bills' 40: On a four-man rush, Redding powers past Reyes up the middle. Hall charges up field towards Gandy, who is in good position for the block. But Hall makes a quick spin move to the inside and gets away from Gandy. Hall hits Losman low and Redding piles on top for an 8-yard loss.

>Other Observations

* The Bills' run defense is not getting better. One week after giving up 155 yards to Chicago, Buffalo allowed 132 to Detroit, which had the NFL's worst rushing offense. The Bills' defensive tackles continue to get dominated at the point of attack, while linebackers were guilty of missed tackles.

* For the second straight week, RB Willis McGahee was not a factor on offense. He ran for 66 yards on 17 carries last Sunday, but he had just five rushing attempts in the second half as the team surprisingly abandoned the ground game.

* CB Terrence McGee may as well have a target on his chest. Like Chicago, Detroit picked on him all afternoon. Lions WR Roy Williams beat McGee for several of his 10 catches and 161 yards. McGee said last week that his play has dropped a notch or two. Sunday was the latest example.

>Coming Attractions

Losman might be on the run again on Sunday when the New England Patriots and their well-rested pass rushers come to town. The Patriots have only 12 sacks so far this season, but that's more than twice as many as the Lions had before last Sunday.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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