It's been over four years since the Buffalo Bills have committed five turnovers in the same game. Yesterday against the Minnesota Vikings Buffalo fumbled five times, losing four of them, and Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception to bring the total to that dubious number.
To put the turnover into perspective, the Bills turned the ball over five times in their last three games combined. Not coincidentally their two wins have come in that span and in the third game took the Pittsburgh Steelers to the brink.
You simply can't win when you turn the ball over five times. It's only happened twice since 2007 and both instances have come this season. In week 11 Jacksonville overcame six turnovers to defeat the Browns and in week 7 the Giants dropped the Cowboys despite five turnovers.
Ball security in this case starts with the offensive line. I'll let Ron address the line more in his forthcoming offensive line post but I'll put this out there for "Understatement of the Year" consideration, they did not look good yesterday. Demetrius Bell, in particular, had his worst game as a pro since his debut in 2009. Vikings defensive end Jared Allen abused Bell all day causing a fumble and pressuring Fitzpatrick all day.
Continuing the theme of the offensive line, right tackle Mansfield Wrotto allowed pressure from the right side that forced Fitzpatrick's second quarter interception. Late in the game fourth-string center Andy Levitre and Fitzpatrick muffed a handoff on the doorstep of the Minnesota end zone ending a promising late drive.
The Buffalo Bills special teams have also been guilty of lackluster ball security this season. C.J. Spiller and Leodis McKelvin have both fumbled kick returns. Yesterday McKelvin put two on the ground including a costly turnover late in the first quarter that allowed the Vikings to quickly move from a 0-7 hole to a 14-7 lead.
The final turnover was Corey McIntyre's fumble. It was another turnover in Minnesota territory but I'm a little more willing to give McIntyre a pass on this one. The defender clearly led with his helmet, delivering a blow to McIntyre's head. The dazed fullback dropped the ball on what I felt should have been a penalty. Not to pile on the refs but if the hits on Minnesota's punter and quarterback were unnecessary roughness, this one should have been as well. It was clearly as dangerous as the other two calls.
The last game the Bills had five turnovers was October 8th of 2006 against the Chicago Bears. They were blown out 40-7 and had 145 yards of total offense. They dug themselves a 27-point hole at the half and were down 40 points in the fourth. Let's hope it's a lot longer before we see another game with five turnovers.