REGULAR-SEASON SERIES RECORD: Atlanta leads, 5-4, including a 3-1 home record. The Bills have never won in the Georgia Dome; their only road win in the series came in 1973, when the Falcons still played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
The Bills managed to keep the Michael Vick Experience from adding them to his personal SportsCenter highlight reel, but matched up against J.P. Losman’s dreadful 10-for-23, 75-yard performance, the Falcons mustered more than enough offense to cruise to their third win of the season. Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett did most of the damage on the ground, combining for 172 of Atlanta’s 236 rushing yards, while Vick went an efficient 15-for-27 for 167 yards and two first-half touchdown passes.
The Bills’ afternoon went from bad to worse late in the second quarter, when Pro Bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon while trying to track down the elusive Falcons quarterback. From my seats in Section 109, I had a good view of Spikes’ frustration as he slammed his helmet to the turf, knowing his season was done long before the Bills’ medical staff delivered the bad news.
Flu-ridden quarterback Chris Chandler needed an IV at halftime of the Falcons’ home finale, but Bills defenders were probably the ones feeling sick after he torched them for a franchise-record 431 yards and two long touchdown passes. Buffalo rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game on an Alex Van Pelt-to-Eric Moulds pass with 0:48 left, but Chandler quickly drove Atlanta into field goal range, and Jay Feely nailed the 52-yarder as time expired to send the Bills home for Christmas with a gruesome 2-12 record.
FALCONS OVERVIEW (2009 RANKINGS)
OFFENSE (#18 total yardage, #20 rushing, #15 passing, #16 scoring)
DEFENSE (#28 total yardage, #20 rushing, #30 passing, #20 scoring)
Welcome to the 2010 preseason. Atlanta’s top two offensive players, running back Michael Turner and franchise quarterback Matt Ryan, have both missed recent games due to injury and are questionable (at best) again this week. Then again, with an incredible NINETEEN players on injured reserve – a team record, I’m guessing – the Bills aren’t likely to be in an overly sympathetic mood. Chris Redman versus Brian Brohm in a battle of Louisville quarterbacks, anyone?
With both teams out of the playoff picture, the most intriguing battle in this game appears to be the race between future Hall of Famers Terrell Owens and Tony Gonzalez to see who can get to 1,000 career receptions first. Owens currently leads 996-994, but considering that the increasingly frustrated Bills wideout has caught four or more passes in a game just four times this season while Gonzo is averaging over five catches per week, my money might just be on No. 88.
Happy Holidays to everyone at Two Bills Drive. When’s the draft again?