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8 Laces: Get caught up on the Bills after their fourth straight win

I suppose, in some sense, it's wildly unfair what type of quarterback play Rex Ryan's teams have received over the last 17 years.

For a coach who believes he's one of the best defensive minds in the game, he's almost never had a dominant quarterback to help out on the other side of the ball.

Since Ryan returned to the NFL from the college ranks in 1999, these have been the leading passers on his teams:



1999-2000: Tony Banks

2001: Elvis Grbac

2002: Jeff Blake

2003-05: Kyle Boller

2006: Steve McNair

2007: Kyle Boller

2008: Joe Flacco


2009-12: Mark Sanchez

2013-14: Geno Smith


2015: Tyrod Taylor

Only four of those quarterbacks surpassed 3,000 yards in the season, and they barely reached the milestone at that.

There was Elvis Grbac (3,033 yards in 2001), who retired after the season when the Ravens wanted him to take a $5 million pay cut; there was an aging Steve McNair (3,050 in 2006), whose next season would be his last; a rookie Geno Smith (3,046 in 2013), who regressed after his first season; and then Tyrod Taylor, who threw for 3,035 last season in first year as a starter.

So put in that context, and considering that Ryan won a Super Bowl in 2000 with Trent Dilfer (who wasn't the team's top passer that year) and went to two AFC title games with Sanchez, maybe it's not so bad for Ryan that Taylor has been putting up limited numbers through the air this season.

Over the Bills' four-game winning streak, Taylor has thrown for 119, 246, 124 and 179 yards. Those aren't good numbers, but they've been enough. And combined with his running ability, you could argue that Taylor might the best option Ryan has ever had under center.

It's also impressive that the Bills have won three consecutive games in which their quarterback threw for less than 180 yards, but it's not unprecedented. The 2000 Ravens, for instance, won seven consecutive games in which they never passed for more than 172 yards – Weeks 15, 16, 17 and all four playoff rounds, en route to a Super Bowl title. Ryan was the defensive line coach on that team.

Last year's Kansas City Chiefs started 1-5 but won their last 10 games to make the playoffs. From Week 13 through the Wild Card round, they won six in a row without passing for more than 179 yards. In Ryan's four playoff wins with the Jets, Sanchez threw for 182, 100, 189 and 194 yards.

So the point is this: Incredible defense can overcome a less-than-threatening aerial attack. The Bills are getting that level of performance from the defense. The running game has been outstanding. Of course it would be better if Taylor put up prolific numbers. But he's not, and probably won't without Sammy Watkins. And when considering Ryan's career arc, that's OK.

McCoy goes wild

LeSean McCoy notched his third career three-touchdown game Sunday. He's been worth every penny, Bucky Gleason wrote after a long talk with the running back.

That knee is fine

Yes, it looked bad when McCoy went down holding his knee. But he was all right, and returned to finish a career day. More on McCoy in Vic Carucci's game analysis.

But man, that running game

For even more McCoy, let's check in with Mark Gaughan's 10 plays that shaped the game.

On the other side...

It took Jay Skurski until only 2:15 p.m. to decide the 49ers run defense was getting an F in his Report Card.

Their final grade: F---, probably similar to what a lot of 49ers fans said during the game.

That's four straight wins for the Bills

So Rex Ryan can say whatever the heck wants, Jerry Sullivan wrote.

Remember that Kaepernick guy?

There's a small chance you heard about him before the game. Just guessing. But after the game? His play didn't leave a ton worth talking about.

Speaking of before the game...

A group of Bills fans knelt during the anthem outside the stadium to show their support for Kaepernick.

And then after the game...

Bills receiver Marquise Goodwin, a former Team USA member, sought out Kaepernick to exchange jerseys.

Final word

Time for another edition of #HoganWatch: After a 114-yard game last week against the Browns, Hogan was held to one catch for 39 yards against the Bengals.

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