STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
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QB Tyrod Taylor had another unproductive day as he threw for only 125 yards and could not get the Bills into the end zone. He is 3-11 in games when the Bills enter the fourth quarter tied or down by one score.
RB LeSean McCoy endured one of the worst games of his career, as he had nine yards on 12 carries. He did catch six passes for 34 yards.
LT Cordy Glenn sat out the second half because of an ankle injury.
DT Marcell Dareus played only 17 snaps in the game due to an ankle injury.
WR Jordan Matthews led the Bills' wideouts with three catches for 30 yards.
FS Jordan Poyer was in on 11 tackles, made a sack, and broke up three passes.
TE Charles Clay was targeted only three times and he caught all three but for only 23 yards.
LB Lorenzo Alexander was in on nine tackles and he recorded a sack and one other tackle for a loss.
DE Jerry Hughes had two sacks worth 24 yards in losses and barely missed a third.
LB Ramon Humber had a second straight solid game with nine tackles and he has 22 in two games.
REPORT CARD VS. PANTHERS
PASSING OFFENSE: F It was a miserable day for the Bills. They amassed only 107 net passing yards as Tyrod Taylor could not find anyone open, primarily because his wide receivers aren't winning their battles. Taylor's longest completion went for 15 yards, and LeSean McCoy was the leading receiver with six catches for 34 yards. Zay Jones could have made a catch on the final play of the game that might have gone for a winning touchdown, but Taylor was off the mark with the throw.
RUSHING OFFENSE: F The Panthers had one goal in mind on defense: Stop LeSean McCoy, and they did, fabulously. He carried 12 times for nine yards, one of the worst games of his career. In fact, it might have been the worst. He's had three games with fewer yards, but those all came on fewer carries than 12. The Panthers stacked the box all day and McCoy had nowhere to run as the offensive line playing much of the day without left tackle Cordy Glenn could not create space.
PASS DEFENSE: B-plus Cam Newton wasn't particularly sharp as he missed some open throws, but part of the issue for him was that the Bills were harassing all day. They sacked Newton six times for 50 yards in losses and pressured him on several other dropbacks. Behind the rush, the Bills were pretty solid in coverage, but there were some key breakdowns on third downs, which helped the Panthers pile up nearly 39 minutes of possession time. Safety Jordan Poyer had another impressive performance with a sack, 11 tackles, and three pass breakups.
RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus The Panthers tried to run, but they didn't have much success, averaging only 2.8 yards per attempt for 77 yards. The Bills did a nice job limiting Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey (their longest gain was 10 yards), though they were hurt by a couple dynamic Newton scrambles. The Bills did this even with Marcell Dareus playing only 17 snaps due to an ankle injury.
C Another ho-hum day in the kicking game. Stephen Hauschka made his only field-goal attempt from 45 yards. The Bills benched Brandon Tate for Kaelin Clay as their punt returner, and Clay nearly lost a fumble and had two yards on two returns. Hauschka had two kickoff touchbacks, and Colton Schmidt had a nice day with a 44.5-yard net average with two punts downed inside the 20. There was only one penalty.
C Sean McDermott had the Bills ready to play, and they fought hard, right to the end and had a chance to win a game they probably had no business winning. The defensive staff took full advantage of McDermott's knowledge of the Carolina offense and did a great job keeping Cam Newton out of the end zone. But offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and his staff have a lot of work to do because the offensive showing was abysmal.