The Buffalo Bills’ secret weapon came into Sunday’s game with just 13 catches on the season, none of them for over 20 yards.
And while Scott Chandler’s meagre total of 98 receiving yards through Buffalo’s first six games ranked him well down the list of leading Bills pass-catchers this season, he certainly has a tendency to make the most of his receptions.
Of his 13 catches, four went for touchdowns – a trend that Chandler happily continued Sunday at Rogers Centre where Buffalo crushed the Washington Redskins 23-0 in the fourth instalment of the Bills Toronto Series at Rogers Centre.
Chandler caught two more passes in Sunday’s win and both went for majors, giving the third-year NFL tight end six on the season off 15 catches.
That’s a pretty good ratio, especially for a player who only had one NFL reception to his credit heading into the 2011 season.
“You never want to come off the bye week slow,” Chandler said afterwards. “And to be able to come off like we did, defence playing with their hair on fire all day, pitching a shutout, that’s real exciting for us.”
Chandler presents an inviting target at 6 foot 7 and 263 pounds, one that is easy for Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to pick out in a crowd.
On his first TD catch, with the Bills setting up on the Washington 20-yard line, Chandler hauled in a Fitzpatrick pass at the Washington six near the sideline and extended the football just over the goal line as he was being pushed out of bounds.
That score helped Buffalo into a 7-0 lead after nearly 10 minutes of the first quarter.
On his second score, the Bills were at the Washington 15 and Chandler lined up on the left side.
Washington opted to provide double coverage on Steve Johnson, Buffalo’s leading receiver, which left Chandler in the enviable position of having just one defender, linebacker London Fletcher, to out-manoeuvre.
Chandler ran a simple down and out – or flag pattern – and easily distanced himself from the struggling Fletcher, hauling in a 15-yard toss from Fitzpatrick on Buffalo’s first possession of the third quarter.
That moved the Bills in front 20-0.
Chandler’s second TD reception equalled the single-season franchise record for touchdowns by a tight end, tying him with Pete Metzelaars and Jay Riemersma.
Metzelaars played with the Bills in their four Super Bowl losses from 1990-94. Riemersma played for Buffalo from 1996 through 2002.
Chandler was drafted by the Chargers 129th overall in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL draft. He was waived by the team on April 27, 2009.
He had a couple unproductive stints with the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants before he latched on with the Bills late in the season last year. He got into four games and made one catch, for eight yards.
This season, on a Buffalo team that features a wide array of decent pass receivers in Johnson, David Nelson and Fred Jackson out of the backfield, Chandler has quietly become Fitzpatrick’s go-to guy inside the 20.
“I hope that’s the case,” Chandler said. “I think we have so many guys that can cause a lot of damage down there. It’s hard to guard us all. You’ve got Stevie and David down there. They’re commanding a lot of attention. You have to pay attention to Fred, too. He’s having a pretty good year.
“So for me I think we’re able to compliment one another well and I was the beneficiary today.”