The Buffalo Bills (8-7) played one half of good offensive football during their Christmas Eve loss at the New England Patriots (12-3) and should have led 17-13 heading into intermission thanks to Tyrod Taylor’s four-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin. Unfortunately for Bills fans, Benjamin’s TD catch was overturned (and Charles Clay dropped the preceding touchdown pass), Buffalo had to settle for a short Stephen Hauschka field goal, and went into the locker room tied at 13.
Buffalo managed to drive downfield on its first possession of the second half and took a 16-13 lead on Hauschka’s 30-yard field, but against the high-flying Patriots, field goals weren’t going to get it done and Buffalo dropped a 37-16 decision in Foxboro.
Despite a promising first half when the Bills offense went toe-to-toe with Bill Belichick and the Patriots defense, with Tyrod Taylor completing 12-o-22 passes for 153 yards and a 76.5 passer rating, the Bills were outscored 24-3 in the second half and fell to 2-14 all-time in Gillette Stadium.
The second half offensive struggles have existed for much of the second half of the season. In their past five games, the Bills have scored a total of nine points in the second half, with no touchdowns and just three Hauschka field goals.
According to research done by WGR Sportsradio 550’s Howard Simon, the Bills’ offensive woes in the second half extend back to the Week 8 and their 34-14 win over the Oakland Raiders at New Era Field. Taylor’s one-yard TD run that put the Bills up 27-7 early in the fourth quarter was the last time the Buffalo offense scored a meaningful (non-garbage time) second-half touchdown, a span of eight games.
The Dolphins, Buffalo’s opponent in Week 17, mounted a serious comeback and turned what should have been a sure-fire Bills victory into a closer-than-it-should-have-been ending at New Era Field, partly because Buffalo’s offense scored only three points and punted on three of their five second-half possessions.
If the Bills are to secure a 9-7 record and potentially snap their 17-year playoff drought Sunday with help from either the Baltimore Ravens, or the Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison is going to need to go back to the drawing board and devise an effective and creative play-calling system for the whole game in Week 17. Banking on Jay Cutler tossing three second-half interceptions for a second straight time vs. Buffalo might be asking for too much this holiday season.