The Buffalo Bills squandered yet another winnable game this week. This Bills team is frustrating to watch at times. They always seem to put themselves in good position, but find a way to mess it up. Here are some highlights and lowlights of Sunday’s 23-13 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Running game was firing on all cylinders Sunday. The Bills rushed for 241 yards against a really good Kansas City defense. C.J. Spiller, who didn’t play last week because of an injured ankle, came back with the explosiveness that Bills fans have come to expect from him. Spiller rushed for 116 yards, including a 61 yard where he showcased his speed by just flat out beating the defense to the corner. Spiller still came up gimpy after many of his runs so his ankle isn’t fully healed, but it was nice to see him have that explosiveness in his game back that has been missing over the past few weeks.
The other half of this 2-headed running back monster, Fred Jackson, also had himself a big game. Jackson rushed for 77 yards on the afternoon, breaking the 50 yard barrier for the first time in 3 games. It’s nice to see this running back tandem run like we all know they can.
Defensively, Buffalo played their best game of the season in my opinion. The Bills defense only allowed the Chiefs to score 9 points yesterday. Their pass coverage was really good, only allowing Alex Smith to throw for 124 yards with no touchdowns. The Bills were even able to semi-stop the run, something they have been struggling with all season. They only allowed Jamaal Charles to rush for 90 yards on the day.
Buffalo also did a good job of getting their defense off the field on 3rd down. 3rd down efficiency has been a problem for the Bills all season up to this point. Yesterday, Kansas City was only able to convert 3-13 opportunities.
Buffalo’s quarterback misfortunes led to yet another undrafted player to take the helm of the offense in Jeff Tuel. I do give him credit, he looked like he was composed through-out the game, but he just wasn’t able to move the ball down the field. Tuel fell in love with the deep ball after completing a bomb to Marquise Goodwin in the 1st quarter that went for a touchdown. Many over them were underthrown, forcing the Bills receivers to attempt wild Calvin Johnson-like catches. Unfortunately, they aren’t quite as good as Calvin Johnson (then again who is…put your hand down Dez Bryant).
When he wasn’t underthrowing deep balls, Tuel was overthrowing receivers across the middle. He had at least 3 balls that I can remember just sail right over open receivers, one of them resulting in an interception.
While we are talking about interceptions, I have to mention the one he threw at the goal-line. Tuel completely ignored Stevie Johnson standing wide-open in the back of the end zone, only to throw to Robert Woods who was double covered. This resulted in an easy interception for Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith, who took it 100 yards the other way for a touchdown. More on this a little bit later.
I expected Tuel to make these mistake. I mean, he is an undrafted guy making his first career NFL start, so these mistakes are going to happen. But, his receivers didn’t help his case.
The Bills dropped 7 passes on the day. Scott Chandler, who is normally pretty sure-handed, had two bounce right off his hands on 3rd downs that would have easily moved the chains. Marquise Goodwin dropped a few, and T.J. Graham got in on the action letting a pass or two bounce off his chest. You’re not doing any favors for your young quarterback by dropping these easily catchable balls. Bad day for the Buffalo receivers.
I don’t feel like the Chiefs won this game. It seemed more like the Bills handed it to them. When Tuel threw his pick-6 in the 3rd quarter, the Bills were up 10-3 and had them on the ropes. If Tuel hits Stevie for the touchdown, the Bills are up 17-3. With the way the defense was playing yesterday, I don’t think the Chiefs comeback.
This team is so irritating to watch sometimes. They put themselves in position to win and can never capitalize. But, this team is really young. I hope these issues get ironed out in the future. Speaking of the future…
Looking forward, the Bills have a pretty easy schedule; At the Steelers (really struggling), Jets (wildly inconsistent), Falcons in Toronto (Atlanta is in a tail-spin), at Tampa (a very frisky winless team), at Jags (historically bad), Dolphins (we already beat them once and judging by the investigation, the locker room is a mess), and at the Patriots (probably resting their starters for the playoffs). It’s not too much of a stretch to think that Buffalo could go 6-1 or 5-2 to close the season.
What makes this schedule look even better, E.J. Manuel was cleared to play today by doctors. Head Coach Doug Marrone will evaluate him in practice this week and determine Friday if he will be the starter next week in Pittsburgh. OUR ENDLESS CYCLE OF UNDRAFTED QUARTERBACKS MIGHT BE OVER! Till then, keep your heads up Bills’ nation.