Even with a pre-game speech from Kevin Everett and an early 14-point lead, the Buffalo Bills could not find a way to win their final home game, allowing plenty of big plays to the New York Giants in a 38-21 loss. Buffalo's second straight defeat ensures that the team will continue a streak of non-winning seasons that dates back to 2004; the Giants, meanwhile, have clinched a playoff berth. The loss also marks the second straight year that the Bills have finished at .500 (4-4) at home under Dick Jauron; with a trip to Philly on the Week 17 slate, the Bills could very well end up 7-9 for a second straight season as well.
Buffalo was able to score two touchdowns prior to the arrival of torrential downpours; the fair-weather Bills, from that point on, were a non-factor in an otherwise dominating performance by the Giants. The Bills did hold a 21-17 lead into the fourth quarter, but a terrible fourth-quarter performance by both the offense and defense allowed the Giants to win this one easily.
Edwards Struggles in the Elements
Before the awful weather set in, Trent Edwards started the game on fire, completing 7 of his first 8 passes for 112 yards and two scores. From that point, the rookie was just 2 of 18 for 39 yards and 3 interceptions - two of which were returned by Giants defenders for touchdowns. The rookie was once again largely ineffective in bad weather conditions, and it didn't help that he had to endure a lackluster performance from his receiving corps, who dropped plenty of passes. Lee Evans was especially poor; despite catching a touchdown in the first quarter, Evans once again shied away from contact, missing several catchable balls and having a pass deflect off of him for the first pick-six Edwards threw. New York deserves some credit - their pass rush was ferocious as usual (3 sacks) - but Edwards' green showed through once again.
As Buffalo was forced to pass much of the fourth quarter, Marshawn Lynch was not as involved on the ground as he should have been. The rookie was yet again Buffalo's lone steady performer, rushing for 70 yards on 18 carries and a score, and adding 42 more yards through the air. Lynch has surpassed 1,000 rushing yards in his rookie season (he currently has 1,010) and has seven scores on the season; there is one Bill player, at least, that has some upside.
Giants Dominate on the Ground
Just as they did last week with Cleveland's Jamal Lewis, the Bills struggled mightily to stop a powerful rushing attack. Two Giants rushers - Brandon Jacobs and rookie Ahmad Bradshaw - combined to rush for 296 yards and three touchdowns. It was a historically bad performance for Buffalo's rushing defense; 131 of those yards came on two long touchdown runs, one by Jacobs and Bradshaw each.
The dominant performance on the ground was more than enough to offset a terrible performance by Eli Manning, who lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions while completing just 7 of 15 passes for 111 yards. In the end, Manning's poor outing was trumped mightily by the Giants' ability to rush against a Bills defense that is too easily physically overwhelmed by a power rushing attack.
Rumblings Game Balls
RB Marshawn Lynch: Team MVP, by a wide, wide margin. No player has been as consistent week in and week out as the rookie running back; he's a good fit with this team long-term, and his 1,000-yard rookie season gives Bills fans hope for 2008.
CB Terrence McGee: As much of a problem in the run game as anyone; McGee did, however, make an important interception in the fourth quarter as the Bills were attempting to come back from a 24-21 deficit.
WR Roscoe Parrish: It was questionable as to whether he'd play; the young freshly paid wideout made a beautiful diving reception to set up an early touchdown, and also ripped off a 20-yard punt return in the elements.