Another awful loss by our poor Buffalo Bills who have lost the last three MNF games by a total of 4 points.
I'm going to try do try a different format for a post game article let me know what you think!
1. The Best Bills players of Monday Night
Aaron Schobel- Whenever the Bills play the Patriots this guy goes practically berserk. He says he only has the most sacks of Brady because of how often they play, but I tend to think there might be more to it than that. He played like a ravenous animal, and as much as the phrases "high motor" and "high effort" are looked down on, Schobel showed why sometimes they shouldn't. He was clearly beaten on quite a few blocks and didn't even get any penetration on some plays but he dropped back and read Brady and was able to outright pick off a pass and came close to picking another one off that might have changed the outcome of the game. This quite simply is Schobel at his best possible level of play at this stage of his career, and the encouraging thing is: that's still pretty damn good. (*****)
Fred Jackson- This guy used to be known as the Bills "secret" weapon but now the secret is out to say the least. Fred Jackson really reminds me of Brian Westbrook in 2007. He has VERY few weaknesses. He is just very good at everything and is a true all-purpose back. He can be set as a WR, he can deliver devastating blocks (look at the Lynch's touchdown in last years game against San Diego) He has elusiveness and power. He has good vision and is patient and hits holes hard and he has amazing 2nd effort just like Lynch. My favorite run of any Bills player was Jackson against the Jets when he was like stopped at the 7 yard line but carried 1/2 the defense in for a touchdown. Monday Night he burned the patriots while injured just like last time when he burned them in a blizzard. Jackson is a player who it's hard to imagine even exists. I know everyone knows his history, but this guy is literally one in a million. It makes me wonder how many Fred Jacksons are like in the world. Players with rare talent who never got a chance because of where they went to college or weren't coached to their strengths and who never got a look and gave up the dream. And I imagine when he was playing for the Sioux City Bandits making $200 if there were times when he way have wondered whether it was even worth it.... But in the end we all know it was. (*****)
Trent Edwards- Just a solid performance. 15/25 for over 200 yards and 2 TDs 0 INTs is a good statline for every single QB in the NFL. Would have liked to see more passes down field, but Alex Van Pelt did a great job of playing to Edward's strengths and exposing weak areas of the Patriots defense with the screenpass. What I liked about how Edwards played was that he read the defenses very well and delivered balls on target. The Wide Receivers dropped key balls on 3rd down that for the most part were very accurately thrown. Now did New England have a lot of dropped balls? Yes, but New England had over double the pass attempts. The Bills cannot afford dropped balls. Even against a team lesser than New England. Another nice thing Edwards did was run when he saw open space. That is a big deal. Edwards is usually very good about knowing WHEN to run and WHEN to stop running. Also he knew to dump off to TO while on the run to get even more yardage. (****)
Donte Whitner- I had fun watching Donte in this game. I felt he played very energized, fast, and aggressive. He also played decent coverage when called upon. He was a very sure tackler. Very few Patriots got past him when he had a chance to tackle them, and he made tackles all over the field and got to wherever the ball was very fast. No picks or anything special but he was very effective and I was very pleased with his play. (****)
Marcus Stroud- It's amazing how strong this guy is and how fast he can get to the ballcarrier on one play he bear clawed the RB with one arm and threw him to the ground. He didn't put up amazing numbers but for a DT he had a solid and productive outing with 4 tackles, 2 of which were for losses. This guy is a large part of the why the Patriots run game was completely ineffective.(****)
Keith Ellison- A good performance. He was very strong against the run, he forced another turnover on downs (which is a very nice pattern I'm seeing). He had a combined 15 tackles, which is about double what the best Patriots defender had. That's alot of tackles. As maligned as he is, he is an important player and he played well especially since Poz was gone. I don't care if that's a popular opinion or not, this guy has been playing very well for us and I'm kind of sick of hearing him put down by the fan base because he's not a big name. He is somewhat responsible for Ben Watson's TDs but Bryan Scott is more responsible for them. (***)
Kyle Williams- He isn't very exciting, but I think he played better than usual. He was able to collapse the pocket a few times and annoy Brady. I didn't get a chance to really pay attention to him, but he was at least good, maybe even better. (***)
Brian Moorman- He had some very good punts also had a shank. (***)
Terrence McGee- for awhile was just completely shutting down the Patriots corners. He started to play off the WRs and Moss began to gain on him. (***)
Offensive Line: A qualified "good" rating. Realistically, they had a so-so performance but for their age and experience they meshed well. Bell was interesting in that he was a better run blocker than a pass blocker which seems to be the other way around on the other side.(***)
Derek Schouman: Didn't see how he was blocking but he got some decent yardage and showed second effort to get more yards. Nothing spectacular but pretty good considering his normal production.(***)
2. Everyone was wrong but some were "wronger" than others.
This is more of a rant: I think I can speak for MOST of us (certainly at least myself) when I say that the Bills played better than we expected. Of course that's the beauty of the game in that you never know who will show up and play, right?
But at least we Bills fans understand that we have a talented team.
If you happened to read Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal who wrote,
How bad are the Bills? Really bad. Terrible, really. Horrible, actually.
So bad that they make the Detroit Lions seem like a Super Bowl team in comparison.
Or if you tuned into First Take on ESPN 2 which featured 2 analysts "predicting" that the Bills will start the season 0-4, you would think that we fielded a team of scrubs.
The people at ESPN practically spoke of the game that had yet to be played in absolutes. And yes the Bills lost, but it wasn't "over by halftime" Tedy Bruschi or should I say T-t-t-teeeedy B-bbbb-ruschi.
Every year over at CBS Sportsline they had a dog named Bowden who randomly chooses games based on the snack he eats first, and he usually has a better record than many of these analysts and he doesn't make a fool out of himself either. Just something to think about.
3. Most underrated play of the game
Unfortunately this play was a foreshadowing of what was to come:
Gostkowski kicks 67 yards from NE 30 to BUF 3. L.McKelvin returned 27 yards and fumbles.Nic Harris picks up the ball and carries it for 16 yards to the BUF 38.
Not only the recovery but the fact that Harris returned an extra 16 yards became a HUGE play. This could have easily been the play that doomed the Bills, although the irony is that McKelvin did the same thing again and this time Harris wasn't there to bail him out.
4. The fumble.
Ahh yes the fumble that cost the Bills the game. Or did it? I say yes and no. It was a big play but perhaps not being able to stop the New England Patriots from scoring a touchdown is what cost them the game. No seriously.
It isn't the Patriots "destiny" to score that was the script the Bills wrote for themselves.
The previous touchdown was scored in the exact same way the dagger was scored. A pass over the middle to Ben Watson with Ellison and Scott covering.The coaching staff should have said, "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me."
And don't tell me the defense was tired. I'm sure they were tired, they played a hell of a game. But they are one of the toughest goal-line/short field teams in the NFL and they knew this was for all the marbles. In the same sense that McKelvin's fumble caused it, every negative play that the Bills have contributed to their downfall.
That's why New England didn't win as much as the Bills lost. What if T.O. catches that 1st down ball? that's a whole new set of downs and more time off the clock and maybe they get another first down...maybe they get a touchdown. The circumstances of the McKelvin fumble may not have happened had the Bills not shot themselves in the foot. So was McKelvin justified taking the ball out knowing he fumbled before? Absolutely.
Because that's what winners do.
That's what players who want to stop the 2 minute warning and hopefully drive that last knife into the neck of the opponent do. We complain about Jauron being too conservative and then when he's not, it's his fault for not telling Leodis not to take the ball out. The weak soft Bills who we as fans have grown to hate, THEY would have kneeled the ball. But yet they wouldn't be in the position to win the game now would they?!
5. Our Defense is very good.
But it struggles making adjustments. The 1st half it played magnificent because it had a scheme that exploited and surprised the Patriots. Their WRs were running long routes, and the Dline was getting so much pressure that Brady had to check down and kept getting clobbered. They were out-coached in the first half no one can deny it. Buffalo's schemes were superior, they were on the field way longer and outmatched skill wise most of the game but made the Patriots suffer and have to do ironically what we criticize Edwards for doing: dump off. That's right.
Part of what did the Defense in was two things:
The inability to adjust. The Patriots adjusted their offense and made the WRs run shorter routes. Buffalo seemed to just figure they could do what they were doing because it was effective. Well with the shorter routes Brady found WRs before the Dline even smelled them. They started getting these 11-12 yard plays which became very time consuming and really hurt the Bills D. But the major thing wasn't that they were getting first downs, it was WHEN:
6. The clock strikes 3
The Patriots KILLED the bills on 3rd down. It's a credit to the defense that they were able to get them to 3rd down but when other teams convert 3rd, the defense wishes they had gotten the 1st down on 2nd down, if you know what I mean. The Patriots converted 10-16-63% of them which is just vicious. The Bills meanwhile were 4-10-40% which wasn't very good and there weren't as many of them. But if 3rd down is what killed the Bills, Kevin Faulk may as well have been Jack the Ripper. He constantly was getting open on these little screen and short passes and he did alot of damage.
7. The cost of the no huddle
Is big. We saw on Monday what some of the pitfalls of it are. If it doesn't work our bend but don't break defense goes past the breaking point. And it broke in that game (although it shouldn't have). When people say that it's an offense that needs to be run to perfection, it really isn't an exaggeration. 3 and outs are bad in regular offenses but they are about 10x worse in the no-huddle. The advantages of it are with good playcalling, and good production it can ruin the opponents defense. I really believe that. And I can say that the days of the Bills being mauled by those huge nose tackles look to be a thing of the past. I don't think we've seen the full fury of the no huddle and what it can do yet, but it will be exciting to see.
Edit: thefourwinds and Kurupt feel the no-huddle DIDN'T effect the T.O.P. and they make pretty good points. There is a definite difference between a no-huddle and a hurry up offense. For example, in the game, Trent Edwards often changed plays at the line and often didn't snap the ball until alot of time had run off the clock. The Indianapolis Colts are known for this approach as well. I guess to me it seemed like their was such a discrepancy in T.O.P. that I figured the no huddle may have contributed. I can say with some level of confidence that the no-huddle certainly didn't slow the game down at any rate. But a chief factor in why the Bills were pinned back on their heels, was the defenses'' inability to get out of 3rd down situation.
8.Why do the Bills suffer Heart Breakers like this?
That's really hard to say.
How the Bills have lost sometimes defies logic and defies description.
Some common threads are that many of these have been with Dick Jauron, not that we haven't lost squeakers without him. I want to say some of them are a product of the scheme they run which is designed to keep them in games but also keep games close. The idea of letting the opponent have to beat you instead of you taking risks to beat an opponent, and conservative playcalling may play a part but ultimately:
I think the offense is more responsible than the defense. With the bend but don't break defense, they are not responsible for anywhere near as many of our losses as the offense. A perfect game is the Monday Night Dallas game. The Defense plays incredible and scores multiple times, but our offense loses the game. Same with the Cleveland game, same with the Jets game. Teams with better offenses than defenses probably don't have as many heart breakers, but the downside is they tend to get blown out (exception being Denver vs. Cinc this last week).
I guess I feel that the Bills in these games usually play undisciplined, and they play not to lose instead of to win. That's been said alot but you have to wonder if it isn't true?
But then some days I'm with the fan who says they just are cursed, and that there is no rhyme nor reason.
It's early but right now is the turning point for the team. They need to get angry at if nothing else, their plight in the world. Donte Whitner said he wanted to prove to everyone that they are a good football team, now his teammates have to feel that way.
9. Looking ahead Week 2
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have NEVER played at Ralph Wilson Stadium
The Bills are 6-2 against teams running the 4-3 defense (Pats loss included)
The Bucs hold a 6-2 overall series edge.
Bucs running back Carnell Williams is back and unfortunately back with a vengeance, Buffalo needs to stop the run as well as they did against NE, because TB will be tougher in that regard.