For the second straight year, the Bills offense headed south north of the border.
Thursday night’s 19-13 loss to the Jets saw Buffalo’s “O’’ regress to the ineffective level that has been the norm in recent years . In their two games at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, the Bills have mustered just one touchdown and a total of 16 points. They are now 0-2 in Canada. So much for the home-away-from-homefield advantage.
The match-up everyone anticipated heading into this game – red-hot wideout Terrell Owens vs. Jets lock-down corner Darrelle Revis - turned into a mismatch. T.O. managed just three harmless receptions for 31 yards (it would have been four, but he dropped one), and Revis preserved the victory when he intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick’s underthrown pass to Owens on the Bills final series.
To be honest, I’m not surprised that Revis stuck to T.O. like sweat to skin, because he has a deserved reputation as one of the NFL’s best cover men. The thing that disappointed me more was Lee Evans’ failure to step up against the Jets less talented corner, Lito Sheppherd. The Bills wideout caught a pass for 38 yards on the game’s first drive, setting up Rian Lindell’s 49-yard field goal. But that was it for Evans. He didn’t catch another ball.
Of course, it didn’t help that the guy delivering the ball to him and T.O. had a putrid night. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed just 9-of-23 passes for 98 yards against a Jets defense that man-handled the Bills suspect offensive line. Fitzpatrick was under constant pressure, and often couldn’t step into his throws because guys were being pushed into his face.
Buffalo’s offensive highlight came on its fifth possession when Marshawn Lynch awakened briefly from his season-long slumber. He broke free on a 35-yard run – his longest this year – then scored on a 15-yard run to give the Bills a 10-6 lead early in the second quarter. But that was it for Beast Mode, and Fred Jackson, who’s replaced him in the starting lineup, had an off night with just 31 yards rushing on 13 carries.
The Bills offensive ineptitude was underscored by their conversion of just one of 11 third downs. And that, along with a Jets ground game that rushed for 249 yards, accounted for the 35:10-24:50 discrepency in time of possession.
Of Buffalo’s 13 possessions, seven ended in punts, one in a fumble and one in an interception.
The punts actually proved to be the Bills most potent weapon as Brian Moorman averaged 48 yards per boot and placed four of his kicks inside the Jets 20.
Despite giving up so much rushing yardage, the Bills defense played reasonably well, recording five sacks, including two by Kyle Williams, who is having a solid season.
All in all, though, it was not a very impressive performance by the Bills, who didn’t appear as energized as they had been in their first two games under interim head coach Perry Fewell. You could blame it on the short week, but the Jets were in the same boat.
With the Bills at 4-8, and just four games remaining, I would love to see Brian Brohm get some playing time so we can make an accurate assessment of him. I would definitely give him a look if Fitzpatrick and the Bills offensive has another ugly performance like this one.
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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