The Buffalo Bills looked to put the demons of last week behind them and give the San Francisco 49ers a solid effort at the very least. Sixty minutes later, the Buffalo Bills left the game with their opponents likely laughing their way to the win column for the second straight week.
What went wrong? I think the better question to ask would be, 'What went right?'
Here are some of my thoughts from the Bills' latest debacle:
- Well, normally I leave the 'Stats that might make you vomit' category for last. However, considering that this was an historically bad performance by this Bills team, it's only fair to lead off with these jaw-dropping numbers. Ready? Don't say I didn't warn you…
• The Bills have been outscored 90-10 in the last 86 minutes on the field. 45-7 in 26 minutes to end the game against New England, and of course 45-3 through 60 minutes in San Francisco.
• In three losses this season, the Bills have surrendered 145 points.
• The Bills gave up a franchise high 621 yards to San Francisco on Sunday
• No single entity could be blamed, the 49ers gained almost an equal amount through both the air and on the ground. They gained 311 yards rushing to 310 yards passing.
• 156.2, Alex Smith's passer rating after his 303 yard, 3 touchdown performance
• 8-of-12, the 49ers efficiency mark on third and fourth downs.
• 36:17, San Francisco's time of possession
• 5.5, the difference between yards gained per play from the 49ers (9.9) to the Bills (4.4)
- So, where does the Bills defense go from here? That's a great question, because I don't even think the Bills know the answer to that question. Granted, the 49ers are a very good and almost complete team. However, when you get beat that soundly in both facets of an offensive output, the embarrassment factor has to be going through the roof for the Bills. The pass rush was nonexistent, again. The Bills got gashed on the ground for huge gains, again. The team's young cornerbacks got used and abused by the opposing offense, again. The team continued to bite on the play-action fake and allowed huge yardage, again. Get the drift yet? They better find answers quickly. I'm talking kiss a frog and hope he turns in to a prince type results. The blueprint on how to dominate the Bills is out, it's on them to correct it and not let it swallow up the rest of their season like it did last year.
- Well, so much for having both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller healthy. They may not be 100-percent just yet, but they were good enough to play and practice in full the week leading up to the 49ers game. The two players combined for 16 runs total. That may have been a different story if their defense could actually keep them in the game, but it wasn't as though either player was making a difference anyway. Jackson had 29 yards on nine carries, while Spiller had 24 yards on seven carries. For being the two most dynamic playmakers the Bills had to offer, they were neutralized by the superior 49ers defensive attack.
- Speaking of Fred and C.J., I don't know that this whole 50-50 split of carries and time on the field is going to work. Both players are the type that gets better as the game goes along. The more involved they are, they better they become as the game continues. If their efforts are disjointed, I just don't know how effective they can be as that one-two punch. Both players are starting caliber, feature backs. Are either a timeshare runner? My gut tells me no. I'll find it increasingly interesting to see how the Bills divvy this up as the games pile up this season.
- One final point on how bad the Bills' running attack was. Their leading rusher on the day? Brad Smith, on one carry. I'll hang up and listen.
- Predictably so, Bills' tight end Scott Chandler was hard on himself after the game in regards to his fumble late in the first half. He called it the "turning point of the game." Is he right? Eh, maybe a little. I liked the decision the Bills made to throw it on third down in hopes to move the chains with only 29 seconds left. They had three timeouts to go, and I prefer a more aggressive approach at the end of the half. Did it end up biting them in the behind? Yes. Would I hope the Bills do that every single time with those conditions? Absolutely. The ball was in his hand and the first down was theirs. He just has to hold on to the football. Chandler is not the type to make that same mistake twice.
- Another week, and the same Ryan Fitzpatrick came to play. The Bills had the blueprint on how to attack the San Francisco defense. The Bills even have a quarterback with a similar skill-set to Christian Ponder of the Minnesota Vikings. Of course, Ponder is a better athlete and has more touch on his throws than Fitzpatrick, but the Bills had an idea of how to go about it. Fitzpatrick just could not put together the type of game necessary to keep his team in the game. 16-of-26 for 126 yards and an interception would be a quarterback's stat line a team could get away with if their defense was stout and the running game was working. We can only type "Fitzpatrick has to be more consistent" so many times. If the Bills keep going down this slippery slope on the road trip, the hook could be on the way.
- To Fitzpatrick's credit, however, the Bills were at their best on offense near the end of the first half after they attempted to hit a deep ball. It was overthrown, but it backed off the San Francisco cornerbacks enough to where Stevie Johnson, Donald Jones and T.J. Graham could find some room underneath. That all came crashing down when the Bills found themselves down two scores at the end of the first half.
- Start the clock on Arthur Moats' tenure as starting strongside linebacker. Moats was inefficient for most of the game in defending against play action and found himself on the bench in the second half. Impressive rookie Nigel Bradham ate in to Moats' play count, and looked the part of a starting caliber strongside linebacker at times in coverage. There were other times where his youth and inexperience won out, too. Will Bradham take over the starting job next week? Who knows. But Arthur Moats is on alert.
- One of the biggest plays of the day that no one is talking about cost the Bills a huge chance to get San Francisco a little nervous early on in to the game. After the Bills defense stuffed the 49ers offense on their first possession, Leodis McKelvin found some running room and ran his way in to the end zone for a touchdown on the punt return. He looked back, only to see a little yellow handkerchief around midfield. It was a holding call on Jairus Byrd that brought the whole thing back. That was a legitimate chance for the Bills to instill some confidence as a team, only to be thwarted by penalty.
- Another week, and another huge injury list for the Bills. Mark Anderson left the game with a leg injury, Jairus Byrd with a chest injury, Aaron Williams with a hand injury, Colin Brown had a problem with his hamstring, Chad Rinehart's calf injury flared up and Nick Barnett was sidelined the rest of the game with one hearty cramp. The injuries continue to take a toll on the Bills.
MVP: Shawn Powell - The rookie punter was booming his attempts and trapped the 49ers inside the 20-yard line twice.
LVP: Everyone else except Powell, Leodis McKelvin, John Potter, Rian Lindell and Garrison Sanborn.
Up Next: The 2-3 Bills take on the 4-1 Arizona Cardinals Sunday, October 14 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Two straight dismantling losses will stick in the craw of the Bills for the next couple of days I'm sure, but they have a very large opportunity to get it back on track. These next two games are the biggest of their season. A win in Arizona and at home against Tennessee will get them right back on track. A loss to the Cardinals in the same fashion as the previous two, and another home loss to Tennessee? The topic of conversation won't be about the on-the-field stuff from that point forward, it'll be about who's head will be rolling first. It's a big week in Bills land, and they have to spend it in Arizona. Their mettle will surely be tested in the next seven days.