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Bills shut out in listless season finale

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Bills waste Jackson's career performance (Associated Press)

Playing through gale force winds in their season finale, the Buffalo Bills fell flat on their faces in a 13-0 defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots.  The loss is Buffalo's eleventh straight to the Pats and leaves the Bills dealing with a 7-9 finish for a third consecutive season.

Rian Lindell missed a 46-yard field goal attempt in one of Buffalo's two legitimate scoring chances on the day.  On the other, terrible clock management from Buffalo's coaching staff and a boneheaded move by Duke Preston to enter a scuffle cost the Bills a field goal right before halftime.

Individual performances wasted
The Bills found a way to lose despite several strong individual performances from Bills players, particularly second-string running back Fred Jackson.  Filling in as the feature back for injured star(ter) Marshawn Lynch, Jackson set a career high with 136 rushing yards on 27 carries (over 5 yards per carry), and his efforts were really the Bills' only viaable threat to a banged up Patriots defense all day.

That's not to say that Trent Edwards performed poorly; on the contrary, Buffalo's young quarterback handled the adverse weather conditions quite well.  In completing 14 of 25 passes for 128 yards, Trent did about as well as could reasonably be expected in the weather conditions.  Even his momentum-sapping fumble - which set up New England's lone touchdown of the game - wasn't his fault, as a terrible pass protection effort from guard Derrick Dockery left Edwards little time to comprehend the pass rush, let alone protect the football.

That's about where the good ended for Buffalo, however.  The defense did its part early, holding the Pats to just a field goal in the first half, but wore down as the Patriots ran the ball 47 times and passed just 8.  Ryan Denney, who played well against the run, paced the Bills with 11 tackles.

A quick 2008 post mortem
After a 5-1 start to the season, Buffalo won just 2 of its final 10 games en route to its third straight 7-9 finish.  Perhaps even more disappointing than the listless effort during the season's most important stretch, however, was the fact that the Bills were winless in their own division.  With an 0-6 record in the AFC East, we now have to live an entire off-season with the knowledge that the Patriots, Jets and Dolphins each swept us this season.  Only the 0-16 Detroit Lions and 2-14 St. Louis Rams joined the Bills in this illustrious department.

If any loss placed head coach Dick Jauron squarely on the hot seat, this one was it.  Despite losing by less than two scores, Buffalo played an incredibly conservative game today, which put the clamps on an already-inconsistent offensive attack missing its best weapon.  The team showed no sense of urgency in attempting to "win one for their coach", which has become their mantra over the past couple of weeks.  If I'm Ralph Wilson, I'm struggling to remember the reasons why keeping Jauron might make sense at the moment.  This season was by far the most disappointing of Jauron's tenure, and with the loss, Buffalo's head coach will remain the hot-button topic in Buffalo until his fate is decided - one way or another.

Game Balls
Oh, what the heck, I'll give one to Freddie Jackson.  At least he showed up to work on Sunday and produced.  Good on you, Fred - you may have just earned yourself a contract extension.

Roll Call
Many, many, MANY thanks to Kurupt and Ron From NM for holding down the fort today as we dealt with power outage issues here at the Residence Galliford.  Just as I owe my electricity-blessed relatives big-time for heat, meals and use of facilities, I owe you guys for taking up the mantle here at Rumblings today.  And to all of you commenters for keeping things civil in an otherwise dreary day, mad props.

The stats: 42 users, 1,066 comments in our final Open Game Thread of the 2008 season.  Surprisingly, norcaliangelsfan paced the masses with 160 comments today, despite the fact that he's a new father.  Now that, Rumblers, is dedication.

twoeightnine, Kurupt, Ron From NM, krytime, NYTXFAN, MARVelous, norcaliangelsfan, ccthemovieman, keuka121, The Buffalonian, MattRichWarren, jdol1568, D.O., BuffCrunch, SebastianPruiti, hightower_mc, thurman, Joe P., WABillsfan, TheAfghanTwilight, BenAllen, mavadjdj, tomsbills, macfresh, Cinga, John B, BillsNorth, billsstein, spavery, kaisertown, Zumone, gjv, Ono, bflobob8, taskersd, BearsNecessity, grenoire, firedickjauron, oompaloompa, geno227, Gino Parilli, tony_flow

You've already had a vent thread (Ron, thanks), so here's another one.  If you want to rehash your old arguments, have at it.  If you just want to scream into cyberspace, you're more than welcome to.  Welcome to the off-season at Buffalo Rumblings, folks.  It's going to be a long one - but it'll be a fun one, too.