A reporter used the term “butt-ugly’’ when asking Perry Fewell about the Bills’ 16-10 victory Sunday against a Kansas City team even more dysfunctional than Buffalo. But the interim coach who is auditioning like hell to hang onto his job was quick to offer a different perspective on beauty.
“I don’t see any ugliness in victory,’’ said Bills coach Perry Fewell, who is 2-2 since replacing Dick Jauron.
“All victories are pretty.’’
We all understand where Fewell is coming from. This is his first shot at being an NFL head coach and he is doing his damndest to remove that temporary tag from his title and convince Ralph Wilson and long-suffering Bills fans to give him the opportunity to resuscitate the franchise with a full-time title next year.
So he views every victory as a feather in his cap. But what’s good for Fewell’s head-coaching prospects might not be what this franchise needs at this point.
The reality is that Sunday’s victory against an NFL dreg improved the Bills record to 5-8 but hurt their draft position. So, it can be argued that this win, or any win during the season’s final three games against New England, Atlanta and Indianapolis, would be ugly because it will adversely affect Buffalo’s draft position and hence its ability to bring aboard the talented players it needs to make a true turnaround.
Being a Bills fan these days is to be conflicted. You want to root for your team to win, but by winning now, your team may lose even more in the future.
Some quick observations from Sunday’s, ahem, thriller:
The Bills commitment to the run paid off as Fred Jackson rushed 20 times for 99 yards and Marshawn Lynch 12 times for 84 yards. Buffalo finished with 200 yards against the league’s second-worst run defense.
Good thing Jackson, Lynch and the maligned Bills offensive line came through because quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had another erratic day throwing the ball. He completed 12-of-20 for 86 yards, 1 score and 1 pick. He also lost a fumble. In the past two games, he is 21 of 43 for 184 yards with one score and 2 picks. I’m all for seeing what Brian Brohm can do. But I’m afraid that Fewell has a comfort level with Fitzpatrick. A QB change may have to be ordered by either Russ Brandon or Ralph Wilson. The Bills really need to see if Brohm can play or not before heading into the off-season.
Brian Moorman and Rian Lindell continue to be the dependa-Bills. Moorman boomed a 73-yard punt and dropped three of his four boots inside the Kansas City 20. Lindell, meanwhile, connected on 3-of-4 field goal attempts and has now converted a mind-boggling 67 of his last 68 tries from inside the 40-yard-line.
I’d be worried if Matt Cassel were my quarterback of the future. In addition to being intercepted four times, he twice badly overthrew open receivers on fly patterns that would have resulted in touchdowns. That said, he would have engineered a heroic comeback victory had Chris Chambers not dropped that perfectly thrown pass inside the Bills 5-yard-line late in the game.
Lee Evans’ disappearance this season continues to baffle me. He had one catch for 11 yards Sunday. During the past four games, the sixth-year wideout has five receptions for 104 yards. He hasn’t caught a touchdown pass during that stretch.
Terrell Owens’ performance in recent weeks hasn’t been much better. He caught two passes for 15 yards – including a 9-yard reception for a touchdown – against Kansas City. That gives him five receptions for 46 yards and one score the past two games.
Jairus Byrd, the sensational rookie defensive back from Oregon, continued his ball-hawking ways, picking off his league-leading 9th pass against KC. Byrd’s interception set a new Bills record for most picks by a first-year player.
So the CBS announcers no sooner sing the praises of the Bills run defense when Jamaal Charles busts free on a 76-yard touchdown sprint with 3:10 to go in the third. The burst put him over the century mark and was the 9th time Buffalo has allowed a back to gain 100 yards this season.
It was a big day for Buffalo’s Penn State linebackers. OK, so Bryan Scott isn’t really a linebacker, but he’s playing one these days. Scott made 10 tackles and tipped the pass that Byrd intercepted, and Paul Posluszny had nine tackles and an interception.
Milestones within reach: Byrd needs one more interception in the final three games to tie the Bills single-season record of 10 shared by Billy Atkins (1961) and Tom Janik (1967) . . . Jackson needs 269 yards rushing to reach 1,000 . . . Owens needs 295 yards receiving to reach 1,000 . . . three straight wins would give Buffalo its first non-losing record since 2004. And, sadly, two more wins, would give the Bills a Groundhog Day special – a fourth consecutive 7-9 season.
A nationally recognized sports columnist and best-selling author, Scott Pitoniak is pursuing new challenges after 35 years in the newspaper business. He hopes one day to write the great American novel and hit a baseball over the wall at Yankee Stadium. In the meantime, he runs his own website – ScottPitoniak.com – and blogs about sports and life’s other adventures.
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