Strong Summary: No Fitzmagic Late, Bills Fall to 4-2

Updated: October 16, 2011

A hot start wasn’t enough for the Bills  in New Jersey Sunday, falling to 4-2 with a 27-24 loss to the Giants. There was plenty to go around early, with the Bills putting up two scores in the first quarter without ever being in Giants territory, jolting the Bills to a 14-7 lead. Freddy Jackson had the longest run in over 20 years for the Bills, stampeding for an 80 yard score on the first play of their second series. Second year receiver Naaman Roosevelt kept the spark going on the very next series, catching a 3rd down pass and running untouched for a 60 yard touchdown. They cooled down quickly, however, and managed only 3 points the rest of the half. Buffalo did have an opportunity to put more points on the board in the 2nd quarter, but Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked for a 9 yard loss, pushing them out of kicker Rian Lindell’s range. I had a feeling that very play was going to come back and haunt the team, and unfortunately my hunch was right, as it turned out to be the difference in score.

The Giants rode the shoulders of running back Ahmad Bradshaw the entire game, with the back getting 26 carries and a couple of targets out of the backfield. He finished with 104 yards rushing, 26 yards receiving, with an impressive 3 touchdowns. Quarterback Eli Manning played respectably, completing 21 of his 32 attempts for 292 yards, but did not pass for a score.

It’s the 5th straight week Buffalo’s oppenent has put up over 400 total yards of offense, and the first time all season the Bills didn’t force a turnover. As I had mentioned last week, living and dying by forcing turnovers is not a way to consistently win games, and that was evident today. Although the Bills were in a position to win the game, I’d be hardpressed to thank the defense. Drayton Florence in particular had a rough day, giving up a couple huge plays. Sure, you could say the first pass interference saved a touchdown, but he was beat regardless. He was beat again on the very next drive, when Eli connected on a 60 yard pass to Hakeem Nicks, leading to a 1 yard touchdown yard by Bradshaw. Florence would commit one more interference penalty, while Nicks went on to a solid day, catching 4 passes for 96 yards. Terrence McGee was welcomed back into his normal full work load, and looked good both in coverage, and coming up to make a few nice stops.

While it’s clear the defense played horrendously, the other side of the ball is a little harder to gauge. I don’t think they played terribly, but outside of the fist quarter, the offense didn’t do much. They did have a real nice drive in the 4th quarter, holding the ball for a little over 7 minutes on 12 plays, ending with a 9 yard Stevie Johnson touchdown catch to tie the game at 24. Freddy was his normal self, rushing for 121 yards on 16 carries (7.6 ypc), most of which came on his 80 yard first quarter run, and tied a team high with 5 receptions for 47 yards. I don’t think you can blame one single player for a loss, but I do believe Fitzy has to take most of the responsibility for this one. He made a few plays, and threw for a couple scores, but also threw 2 very un-timely interceptions, the second being the bigger of the two. He had just completed a nice 32 yard pass to David Nelson, and put the team in a great position to take the lead. Now, with the game winding down and a win at the fingertips, I would have preferred some Freddy Jackson. Regardless, Fitzpatrick made a nice read, Stevie Johnson beat his man off the line and had a step, but the ball was terribly underthrown and cornerback Cory Webster made a nice play on the ball and got the interception. That one really stung, because a better throw is undeniably a touchdown, and a late 4th quarter Bills lead. Buffalo had one final chance, down a field goal with under 2 minutes to play. They converted a nice third down, but ultimately faced a 4th a 5, which was batted down at the line by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.

Nevertheless, the Bills head into week 7 with a BYE, and definitely have some work to do. Before the season, most all of us would have been ecstatic about a 4-2 start, and would be thinking contract extensions and potential post season football. However, after seeing what this team is capable of, and knowing both losses could have very easily went the other way, expectations have been raised. I personally expect more from this team, and I’m not sure my stance is necessarily earned. This is still a young team, and growing pains are to be expected. Bills fans are obviously disappointed with this loss, but the team continues to battle each week, and continually puts themselves into positions to win. Although the defense was without starters Chris Kelsay, Shawn Merriman, and All-Pro Kyle Williams, they really need to discuss some serious issues with the week off.

Buffalo hosts another NFC East foe after the BYE when the Redskins come into town (ed. note: town meaning Toronto) on October 30th. I look for the Bills to make some adjustments on defensive, and be well prepared for the stout Wasington D.