Throughout the course of our Buffalo Bills re-watch, we'll be re-reviewing 11 Bills games from the 2010 season. This post concludes our trip back to a Week 9 loss to the Chicago Bears; it's the fourth game we've completed in the re-watch, meaning that we're now more than a third of the way through this series.
Against Chicago, both the Bills and the Bears scored three touchdowns. Despite that equal play, the Bears managed to find three more points within their three scores, and the Bills dropped to 0-8 on the season. Needless to say, there was plenty of frustration to go around.
Post-game: Man, did I sound depressed after this one, calling it "another meaningless moral victory" and labeling the Bills the NFL's worst team. It's kind of hard to argue with myself in retrospect, considering the team's record at that point in time.
I hit on the fact that the Bills committed three turnovers, which was the biggest factor working against them in this one. It was the second of those - a Ryan Fitzpatrick interception on a severe underthrow to a wide open Stevie Johnson on a deep ball shot with the Bills leading 19-14 in the fourth quarter - that really killed the team's chances of winning, and it deserved more attention than it got from me. That was probably Fitzpatrick's worst throw of the season.
I also hurled some veiled criticism at Chan Gailey for his decision to try a two-point conversion with over 10 minutes remaining in the contest. Corey McIntyre had just scored on a one-yard run to make it 19-14, and Gailey decided to try for two to make up for a Rian Lindell blocked PAT. Fred Jackson's run (a strange play call to begin with) failed, and though Buffalo's defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, the Bears scored after Fitzpatrick's first interception and didn't need a two-point conversion to re-gain the lead. They got it anyway.
To wrap up, I wish I'd focused on the fact that the Bills and Bears had each scored three touchdowns, yet the Bears had still won the game. If that's not a microcosm of what the Bills were at their most excruciating last season, I don't know what is.
Der Jaeger's good and bad: Ironically, DJ brought up the same Lee Evans drop on a perfect Fitzpatrick pass that we took a look at on Friday. During this stretch of the season, Bills receivers - as productive as they were at the time - were dropping a lot of Fitzpatrick passes, and DJ did well to bring this up.
DJ also brought up Buffalo's "improved run defense," noting that they'd surrendered just 105 rushing yards to the Bears - and 39 of those came on Jay Cutler scrambles. I don't think any Bills fan held out hope that the Bills were suddenly going to be better defending the run, and in re-watching the game, it was obvious that the Bills succeeded because the Bears had one of the worst offensive lines I've ever seen.
On the other hand, Buffalo's blitzing was listed by DJ as a positive for the game. I cannot agree. Yes, the Bills got pressure on Cutler, but most of it came from linemen beating three Bears linemen in particular - J'Marcus Webb, Chris Williams and Frank Omiyale - and very little of it came from blitzes. In fact, when the Bills blitzed, they either couldn't bring Cutler down, or they'd vacate space at the second level and allow Cutler to scramble for big chunks of yardage.
Ron's O-Line notes: Strangely, my sense watching this game was that Eric Wood had the worst game I've yet seem him play in this re-watch. Ron had him as his highest-graded run blocker and right up there with Andy Levitre in pass protection. Wood was partially responsible for the blocked PAT, struggled at the point of attack, and didn't do well at the second level. That speaks to just how poorly the line played overall, but in particular blocking up the run.
Cordaro Howard was ailing, so the Bills used Mansfield Wrotto at right tackle for about half of the game. It... didn't work out so well. Both players struggled equally, and right tackle was still the weak point of the line. Collectively, the two held up better in pass protection better than Howard alone had in previous weeks, so I suppose Gailey deserves some credit for finally utilizing a right tackle combination that achieved a goal.
Y'all have no idea how happy I am to be reviewing a win. We start the Detroit Lions tomorrow.