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Cardinals Can't Stop Bills' Ground Attack

Defense allows Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy to run wild in 33-18 loss


Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was elusive with his legs in Buffalo's 33-18 win over the Cardinals on Sunday.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.– A weary Kevin Minter stood in a somber postgame locker room, parroting the answers he gave two weeks ago.

The Cardinals linebacker said the team's defensive woes in Sunday's 33-18 loss to the Bills came down to a lack of execution, and it's a refrain that's become too common.

"I'm tired of saying it," Minter said. "You have no idea how tired I am of saying it. It's what's holding us back. All the talent in the world, and we can't play the damn play. It grinds your teeth."

In the season-opening loss to the Patriots, coverage issues and tackling were the bugaboos. On Sunday against the Bills it was stopping the run, as tailback LeSean McCoy and quarterback Tyrod Taylor led an attack that accumulated 208 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 6.5 yards per carry.

"Certain teams give you the opportunity where you can run your read plays," Taylor said. "This week we knew going into the game that there was an opportunity for that, and we were about to take advantage of it early on in the game and mix it in throughout the game."

Buffalo's offense is built on its ground attack, but such great success was still unexpected, as the Cardinals have always done well against the run under coach Bruce Arians.

McCoy ran 17 times for 110 yards and had a pair of first-half touchdowns. Taylor had nine carries for 76 yards and a touchdown. He picked up 49 yards on an option play when nobody picked him up. It was the longest quarterback run in Bills history.

"I just think that if you don't use (runs for a mobile quarterback), that it's a mistake, because I know how difficult it is to defend against a running quarterback," Bills coach Rex Ryan said.

Taylor completed 14-of-25 passes for only 119 yards but the fast start allowed the offense to remain ground-oriented. The Bills are hard to stop if a defense isn't keyed in because Taylor is mobile and can make reads on the fly.

"We weren't disciplined staying in our gaps, and they were just gashing us," safety Tony Jefferson said.

The run defense was markedly better in the second half, as Buffalo ran 17 times for only 42 yards, and McCoy was tackled in the end zone for a safety in the fourth quarter. But by then, the damage had been done.

"We practiced it and practiced it but they were able to get through," outside linebacker Markus Golden said. "We tried to bounce back, but you've got to give credit to them. They capitalized on a few of their runs."

The objective was to put Taylor in third-and-long situations, and when that happened, the outcomes were generally favorable. However, they didn't happen nearly enough.

 "I knew we would run the ball today," McCoy said. "I didn't know if we would run this well."

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