Hoss Of The Week: Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus
Off-field issues may have made the Bills hesitant to sign Marcell Dareus to a big-money, long-term contract, but his production on the field this season could soon outweigh any of those concerns. On the road last Sunday in Detroit, the Bills were in desperate need of a strong defensive performance to take some of the pressure off new starting quarterback Kyle Orton. Dareus was more than up to the task, and he came home with three sacks, one of which forced a fumble.
None of those sacks were of the gimme variety, either. He had to work for all three of them. On the first sack, which came on a first down in the middle of the first quarter (lotta firsts there), Dareus hit Lions left guard Rob Sims with a quick arm-over inside, then powered through the attempt by center Dominic Raiola to double team. He was able to force Sims back about seven yards before Raiola fell off the double team. Dareus was able to wrap Lions quarterback Matt Stafford for the sack. The Lions eventually punted, as they would on the other two drives during which Dareus got sacks.
The second sack occurred in the second quarter on second-and-8. Dareus was lined up head up on the center as a "zero" nose tackle. Seeing as how Raiola couldn't handle him on a double team, it was a given that he couldn't handle him one-on-one. Dareus went with a rip move to his left to get Raiola to bail backwards about five yards and then got his hands up in the throwing lane right in front of Stafford. When Stafford saw that he had nowhere to go with the ball and tried to run up the middle, Dareus just reached around Raiola, grabbed Stafford and pulled him to the ground.
I should point out that Dareus' day was even more impressive because there was almost a fourth sack, just before halftime. This time he was lined up on the left side of the line and ended up running a TOM game with fellow defensive tackle Stefan Charles.
Charles was lined up on the right side of the center, and he penetrated the gap between Sims and Raiola. Dareus looped around him to the B gap outside of Sims. Dareus ran a tight course and came around free enough to get both hands around Stafford's waist. However, his momentum from running around, combined with Stafford trying to step up in the pocket, allowed Stafford to get away ... momentarily. That pressure from Dareus flushed Stafford up in the pocket, allowing defensive end Jerry Hughes to come behind with the chop move and get the sack. It also caused a fumble that the Lions eventually recovered.
Dareus' third and final sack came on the second play of the fourth quarter. It's important to understand the situation in the game. After being inept for much of the contest, the Bills offense was finally starting to click a little bit and had just kicked another field goal to cut the deficit to 14-6. The Lions' drive started at the end of the third quarter from their own 20-yard line, but the Bills were flagged for a 15-yard penalty because of a hit linebacker Preston Brown delivered to Stafford as he was sliding. The very next play, on first down with the ball at the Lions' 43-yard line, Dareus burst through right guard Larry Warford's block to tackle running back George Winn for no gain to end the quarter. On second-and-10, Lions right tackle LaAdrian Waddle was flagged for illegal use of hands, hands to the face as I call it. That set the Lions back to their own 33-yard line facing a second-and-20.
Dareus lined up on the right side of the center on the outside shoulder of Sims this time, and he ran a Tex game with Hughes. Hughes ran up the field to attract left tackle Riley Reiff, while Dareus penetrated the gap between Reiff and Sims. After a few steps, Hughes looped inside to the A gap inside of Sims and Dareus pushed Reiff in his chest. As Sims came off to try to block Hughes, Dareus turned inside and smothered Stafford while knocking the ball from his hand.
The Bills might have scored had any of Dareus' teammates actually noticed right away that the ball was out. Instead, Lions wide receiver Jeremy Ross picked up the fumble and tried to run with it, but the damage was done. That 10-yard loss had the Lions facing a third-and-30 from their own 23, leading to a punt two plays later from their own 31.
And guess what, the Bills ended up scoring a touchdown on the ensuing drive and converting a two-point play to tie the game.
I don't know of many people who picked the Bills to pull off the upset on Sunday; I do know I was not one of them. It wasn't pretty and it took damn near a 60-yard field goal to pull it off, but when you get a defensive tackle coming home with three sacks in a game just about anything is possible. That just doesn't happen often and that's why Dareus is my Hoss Of The Week.