Its games like this that make me wonder. Will the Bills ever have another winning season? Will they ever make the playoffs again? Will they ever get a quarterback who wins a game like this rather than lose it? Will they ever have a competent Head Coach again?
On Sunday, by the way, the answer was “no” to all of those questions. On yet another day where you walk away thinking “how do the Bills manage to lose that game?” they clinched a 12th non winning record over the last 13 seasons.
They are still mathematically alive in the AFC wild card race thanks to the out of town scoreboard. Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals lost on Sunday. Of course that also means the Bills would have been 1 game out of a playoff spot had they held on and beaten the Rams. Man, those football gods have a severely twisted sense of humor.
As was the case in the Tennessee game, Ryan Fitzpatrick played well up until crunch time and the offense needed to win the game. Fiztpatrick outplayed Sam Bradford for most of the game but at with the game on the line, Bradford guided the Rams to a 14 play, 84 yard go ahead TD drive.
Down 15-12, Fitzpatrick and the offense got the ball at their own 23 yard line with 42 seconds left and 2 time outs. The first play was a 19 yard pass to Scott Chandler, giving Bills fans a reason to hope but it went down hill from there. First there was the not even close deep pass for T.J. Graham, then a sack and then the game ending interception.
Staying with the “haven’t we seen this before” theme, it was another horrible day at the office for Chan Gailey.
C.J. Spiller, who leads the NFL in yards per carry and is 7th in total yards from scrimmage, had a mere 8 touches(7 rushes and 1 catch) out of 58 offensive plays. It was the lowest number of touches for Spiller, who was averaging 7.3 yards per touch coming into the game, since the week 5 matchup in San Francisco.
Spiller’s last carry came with 9:05 left in the 4th quarter. Actually that was his last touch for the game. The Bills ran 9 offensive plays the rest of the game and none went to Spiller.
Yet again the best job of shutting down Spiller is turned in by Gailey and not an opposing defense. Spiller was the spark on the Bills lone TD drive of the day, ripping off 13 yard runs on the 1st and 3rd plays of their initial possession in the 3rd quarter. He never touched the ball again on that drive although the Bills did go on for the touchdown which put them in front 12-7.
During his post game press conference, Gailey said Spiller got winded after those 2 runs so they put Fred Jackson in the game. When asked why Spiller got just 8 touches, Gailey, whose record with the Bills is now 15-30, said they were trying to run the ball and “when it was Fred’s turn, it was Fred’s turn to be in there”.
I absolutely love Fred Jackson but I never want to hear about it being Fred’s turn, ever again. Especially on a day when Jackson managed a total of 14 yards on 9 carries and had a critical lost fumble in the red zone.
Gailey also had many scratching their heads with an early 4th quarter decision. Leading 12-7 and facing a 4th and 7 at the Rams 34 yard line, Gailey sent out the field goal team for what would have been a 52 yard attempt. Gailey then called time and sent the punt team out after the break.
Gailey, who has publicly stated he is not a fan of field goal attempts from 50 and beyond, said he was told it was a 50 yarder but when he saw it was 52 or 53, he opted for the punt. As to the time out, Gailey said he was “scared they were going to snap it” so he called time. That was a critical time out wasted that they could have used on that last drive.
The head coach said he was “scared” on a play where his team could have put points on the scoreboard. This has to be a new low for a franchise that has experienced way too many in this century.
If the Bills attempt the field goal and hit it, they are up 15-7 and no worse than tied when the Rams come back. If Lindell misses, the Rams get the ball at their own 42 which is not the end of the world since the defense had been playing well up to that point. And even with the miss, the Bills still would have had a 5 point lead. Either way he blew an important time out.
Questionable play calling also reared its considerably ugly head just before half time. Fitzpatrick had hit 4 straight passes to move the Bills from the Rams 49 yard line to their 23 with about 30 seconds left. Gailey then called for a Fred Jackson run up the middle which lost a yard and forced the Bills to call their 2nd time out.
After a 2 yard pass to Jackson, the Bills called their final time out with 11 seconds to go and had Lindell kick a field goal. Ironic, isn’t it? As we yell and scream for Gailey to run the ball more, we wonder why he’d run at that point after his QB hit 4 passes in a row. In addition, the Bills didn’t take a single crack at the end zone in that red zone possession but we’ve seen that before this season(a lot).
When all was said and done Fitzpatrick threw 33 passes and Spiller/Jackson combined for 16 runs. Jackson also had his 4th fumble of the season which equals a career high.
Another game, another loss, another season soon to be officially down the drain and yet another day where you want to pull your hair out(unless you are like me and have none left to pull out). When will this ever end?