New Orleans (WKBW) The Bills knew the Saints were going to be a step up in competition. Heck you could argue that New Orleans would be the toughest team the Bills would face all year. You knew it certainly wasn't going to be easy but I thought if the scrappy Bills played mistake free football on Sunday they had a shot. They didn't.
Turnovers, penalties and the big play were killers at the Superdome in the Bills 35-17 loss on Sunday. The Saints scored 14 points off of the three Thad Lewis giveaways. The Bills had a pair of momentum grabbing plays wiped away by penalties. The 15-yard facemask on Mario Williams at the end of the first half negated a Leodis McKelvin interception in the endzone. The Saints scored two plays later to take a 21-10 lead into the half. A holding call on Scott Chandler in the third quarter negated a 55-yard touchdown grab by T.J. Graham. That's not going to cut it against a team like the Saints.Oh then there was Drew Brees. I thought the Bills showed some flashes against the seven-time pro bowler. They were able to get good pressure on him on occasion, came up with four sacks. Then I looked at the stats. Brees finished 26 of 34 for 332 yards and five touchdowns.
His first touchdown to Lance Moore was just an elite quarterback being elite. Brees thread the needle on a 15 yard strike for the score. Nickell Robey had good coverage on the play. The throw was just as good as it gets.
Brees also showed his big play ability in the first half. The Bills led 10-7 in the second quarter when Brees hit Kenny Stills for a 69 yard TD. Stills beat linebacker Jerry Hughes and was open by several steps on the play. He was so open you thought there had to be a breakdown in coverage somewhere but Hughes confirmed after the game that Sitills was his guy. Hughes says he got caught looking into the backfield.
Brees also benefited from having his top receiving option back on Sunday. Tight end Jimmy Graham was limited on Sunday but was good Enough to haul in a pair of a touchdowns. Graham finished with three catches for 37 yards. So much for being a long shot to play. Graham didn't practice until Friday and was considered a game time decision with a leg injury.
-You have to give Thad Lewis this. He's a fighter. But you won't win many games when your quarterback turns the ball over three times. The Saints were focused on forcing the issue with Lewis early and often. They attacked him with pressure and blitzes. "They threw the kitchen sink at me" Lewis said after the game. It looked like his day would last only one play. Lewis was clobbered by Saints LB David Hawthorne on the first play from scrimmage. Lewis fumbled the ball on the play which was recovered by the Saints on the Buffalo 22 but it was his health which was of more immediate concern. Lewis laid on the field for several moments after the play while being attended to by trainers. He said after the game that he had the wind knocked out of him. Lewis would return for the Bills next drive. It wasn't the last time he would be hit, or fumble.
Lewis was sacked four times on the day. He was hit on several others. His second fumble of the day came later in first quarter after being sacked by Cameron Jordan. The Saints recovered and scored their first touchdown of the game three plays later.
Lewis finished the first quarter 2-of-6 for 19 yards and a 43.1 rating. He had a strong start to the second. Lewis completed 5-of-5 passes on the Bills first drive of the second quarter. He found some chemistry with Stevie Johnson who had four catches on that drive in including a 13 yard grab for the Bills first touchdown of the game.
Lewis finished the day 22-of-39 for 234 yards a TD and an interception. He also lost two fumbles.
-Mario Williams extended his sack streak in the fourth quarter. Williams now has a sack in five straight games which is the longest for the Bills since Aaron Schobel had a sack in six straight games in 2006. Williams has 11 sacks on the year. Kyle Williams also added 1.5 sacks on Sunday.
-TE Scott Chandler set a career high with 7 catches against the Saints.