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Offense Inept as Bills Drop Finale in Philly

Lynch strong, but O can't score in loss (AP photo/Tom Mihalek)

Just how bad has Buffalo's offense been this season? WR Josh Reed put it into perspective after learning, after Buffalo's season-ending 17-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, that his Bills offense had set a new team record for fewest touchdowns (20) in a season:

"I don't want to say embarrassing," said Reed in reference to the dubious distinction. "I think frustrating is a better word. What can you say after so long? It's been a whole season of frustration, just waiting for it and waiting for it (to change) and it never came for us."

Buffalo's offense went 0-for-the-red-zone, kicking three field goals and turning the ball over on downs once in their final pitiful performance of the 2007 season. Their abysmal effort wasted a solid one from Buffalo's defense, which played well enough - as usual - to win. It was a fitting end to Buffalo's season, as 2007 turned into one in which Buffalo proved two things: they have character, good motors and mettle, but they're also not yet good enough to beat a sound opponent consistently.

Lynch Closes Rookie Campaign Strong
Marshawn Lynch, as was the status quo all season, was the lone bright spot for Buffalo's offense. He finished the game with 105 rushing yards on 22 carries, including a 56-yard jaunt in the third quarter that set up a Rian Lindell field goal. The rookie finishes his debut season with 1,115 yards on 280 carries (4.0 yard average and an NFL-high 21.5 attempts per game) and 7 scores. He clearly is Buffalo's workhorse, and we look forward to a relaxing and leg-rejuvenating off-season for Buffalo's best player.

Trent Edwards, on the other hand, struggled. Playing in the face of a ferocious Eagles pass rush (which, ironically, did not record a sack on the day), Edwards completed 16 of 30 passes for just 133 yards. Trent looked good avoiding the rush - though he did take one bad intentional grounding penalty - but in the end, he just doesn't have receivers to throw to. His record drops to 5-4 as a rookie starter, and it's far from certain that he'll exit the 2008 off-season as Buffalo's starting QB. Two stats to note: when Edwards played on the road this season, the Bills scored just one touchdown (over four games) - way back in Week 3 in New England, believe it or not; Bills wideouts on this day caught 4 passes for 39 yards. Pitiful.

Defense Makes Plays, but Can't Stop McNabb
Facing what has been a solid Eagles offense for quite some time, Buffalo's defense turned in a surprisingly stellar performance to close out their campaign. The Bills sacked Eagles QB Donovan McNabb 4 times - including 1.5 from up-and-coming DT John McCargo - and forced two turnovers in the losing effort. Ashton Youboty, playing in nickel packages in place of Donte Whitner (illness), intercepted the first pass of his NFL career in the second quarter with the Eagles knocking on the door. John DiGiorgio added a sack and a fumble recovery; Bryan Scott and Jim Leonhard led the Bills with six tackles each.

An embattled run defense performed admirably as well. After surrendering 291 ground yards to the Giants in a Week 16 loss, Eagles runners picked up just 69 yards on the ground, forcing the Eagles to throw the ball a whopping 41 times. Unfortunately, it worked - McNabb completed 29 of those throws for 345 yards, a touchdown and Kevin Curtis recovered a Reggie Brown fumble in the end zone for another score. The bounces went the Eagles' way - and their aerial attack was ticking, so it's not surprising - but believe it or not, this was a strong effort from our injury-riddled defense.

Rumblings Game Balls
RB Marshawn Lynch: Not a surprise here, as Lynch is clearly the Bills' MVP and proved it with a 127-total-yard performance. The obvious building block for Buffalo's offense heading into 2008.

DT John McCargo: He really came on strong at the end of the season individually, and capped his growth year with a 1.5-sack performance. He certainly deserves a shot at nabbing a starting spot next season.

CB Ashton Youboty: He's struggled to get onto the field through his first two years, but after being pressed into action, his performance - while up and down - was solid. He was stellar against the run, notched 4 tackles, and had a beautiful interception on a bad McNabb pass.