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2014 Bills Season Defining Moments


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2014 Season Defining Moments

 

2014 was the start of two consecutive off seasons that were probably the wildest good and bad in franchise history. Before I get to the season recap here is what transpired leading up to week 1:

 

-March 5th the Toronto Series is finally cancelled ending that dreadful experiment 

-Jim Kelly is diagnosed with cancer again on March 24th and he has to enter radiation and chemotherapy again

-Team owner and patriarch Ralph Wilson passes away at 95 on March 25 2014

-In the draft The Bills trade up to the fourth overall pick to select Sammy Watkins over local UB product Khalil Mack and other standout WRs

-In July rookie sensation LB Kiko Alonso tears his ACL ending his season before it begins

-Andre Reed is finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and at his speech famously catches a ball from Jim Kelly

-Bon Jovi is linked to a Toronto group to buy the Bills and successfully destroys any shot of coming to Buffalo again

-The Pegula’s come to the forefront as the leaders for the ownership of the team by August 2014

-In pre season against the Bucs week 3 in what was essentially a tune up for the regular season the Bills offense is booed off the field in the 1st half when they score 0 pts and turn the ball over 3 times. After the improvements made to the offense this was a red flag heading into the season for the team and EJ Manuel.

-this results in the Bills signing QB Kyle Orton on August 29th making him the highest paid backup in the NFL and putting true pressure on EJ Manuel to deliver in his 2nd year

 

With that as a backdrop week 1:

 

Week 1 at Chicago Bears, win 23-20 OT: In maybe the most dramatic and fun opening day of the last decade plus, the Bills upset a playoff minded Bears team on the road. The signature moment is none other then Fred Jackson’s 38 yard run down to the Bears one yard line which his stiff arm threw Bears safety Chris Conte like a rag doll. A Dan Carpenter FG wins the game right after. Shout out to Kyle Williams INT of Jay Cutler as there Bears were in the red zone with 8 minutes to go to keep the game tied.

 

Week 2: Miami Dolphins, 29-10 win: Days after the Pegula’s purchase of the Bills was announced keeping the team in Buffalo, the Bills defeated their rivals in a loud emotional home opener wearing their AFL white unis. The game swung for good as CJ Spiller took a kickoff 102 yds for a TD. Doug Whaley was famously photographed with his arm in the air on the sideline during this play. In his first home game Sammy Watkins had 8 receptions for 117 yds and a TD giving hope that his selection was a good one.

 

Week 3: San Diego Chargers, 22-10 loss: With a 2-0 start hopes were high the playoff drought would die thanks to a great defense and offense that was doing enough. Unfortunately the Chargers exposed flaws in the Bills, specifically the offense. The defense kept Phillip Rivers and the Charges mostly in check all day, but the Bills offense couldn’t do much. EJ Manuel got hit a lot, but couldn’t take advantage when he had his chances. This was defined at the end when he took a safety on an intentional grounding throw icing any chance for the Bills. Eddie Royal had two touchdowns for the Chargers to keep the Bills behind throughout.

 

Week 4: at Houston Texans, 23-17 loss: Even though it was four weeks into the season the calls were out for EJ Manuel to be benched for Kyle Orton. Going into the game it was widely acknowledged that EJs job could be gone depending on his performance. In the game itself the Bills defense again shutdown the Ryan Fitzpatrick led offense starting the second half up 10-7 and picking off Fitz to give the ball to offense on Texans 19 yard line. With the opportunity to go up 17-7 the Bills offense got set for 3rd and 3 when disaster struck in the worst way. EJ hiked the ball on a designed dump off to Fred Jackson on the right. JJ Watt was right in front of him and he still threw the ball which got intercepted by Watt for an 80 yard TD. Anyone watching the game could clearly see the momentum and energy swing rapidly to Houston who went from being down two scores to up by four. Buffalo did have the ball with a chance to win at the end down 23-17, but EJs pass to Robert Woods deep in the Texans territory was intercepted. The Bills fell to 2-2 and after the game you could see the players had lost faith in EJ.

 

Week 5: at Detroit Lions, 17-14 win: The expected happened as EJ Manuel was benched for journeyman QB Kyle Orton. Orton ended up throwing over 300 yds in his debut (308 yds) something Bills QBs for years had struggled with. The game swung though as Lions kicker Alex Henry missed his 3rd FG of the game with a chance to take the lead his 50 yard kick went wide left. Bills kicker Dan Carpenter  won the game on a booming 58 yd FG at the end. Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was carried off by his defense as he exacted some revenge on his previous team which he was the head coach of. 

 

Week 6: New England Patriots, 37-22 loss: It was a festive atmosphere against the Pats as the Pegula’s took in their first games as the owners of the Bills. Each team was 3-2 with a chance to take control of the division. For Bills fans their was a lot of hope that the defense could keep it close. Unfortunately Brady had himself another great day and the defining moment went to Pats WR Brian Tyms making a great end zone catch despite strong defense by the Bills for a 43 yd TD to put NE up 20-7. The Bills offense did close it to 30-22 with 5:52 to go but the defense couldn’t stop the Pats who had their way with Buffalos defense.

 

Week 7: Minnesota Vikings, 17-16 win: At 3-3 the Bills looked to rebound against a young up and coming Vikings team. Despite out gaining the Vikings 373 to 276 yds wise, the Bills turned the ball over four times including twice in the Vikings red zone and another time in the Vikings territory. Despite that Kyle Orton led a 95 yard game winning drive. The Watkins TD is always remembered for its drama, but the true game defining moment came on 4th and 20 when Orton found Chandler down the middle for the first down. Orton also thread the needle a few plays later to Chris Hogan on a 28 yd sideline pass to the Vikings 2 which set up the game winning pass later.

 

The Bills did have two major losses though on this day as both Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller got injured with Jackson missing a month and Spiller losing his entire season. There is a what it scenario on this year if even one of them would’ve been healthy throughout.

 

Week 8: at New York Jets, 43-23 win: The Bills trounced the Rex Ryan coached Jets in NYC to get to 5-3. Highlights of this game included: forcing Geno Smith to go 2-8 with 3 INTs in the 1st quarter, a Lee Smith TD, Frank Summers TD, Michael Vick making an appearance for NY, and a badly failed trick play by the Jets where TJ Graham tried lying down in the end zone for a toss back from Percy Harvin which the Bills read from a mile away. BUT the defining moment was Sammy Watkins premature TD celebration that

 got him caught at the NY 5 yard line. Honestly this play summarized Watkins career in Buffalo: talented with potential but too focused on himself and trying to be a star.

 

Week 9: Bye Week… we all rested

 

Week 10: Kansas City Chiefs, 17-13 loss: In the hall of fame of drought football collapses this game is perhaps the most torturous because had the Bills won they would’ve made the playoffs and it mastered the cruel and usual part of losing. Take your pick from this group of the defining moment because they all hurt in different ways:

 

 Bills RB Bryce Brown breaks a 17 yard run into the end zone … except he fumbles as he nears the goal line and the ball goes out the back of the end zone as Bills TE Scott Chandler can’t hold onto the ball as it bounces out

Up 13-3 with under 14 minutes left in the game the Bills just needed a stop on 4th and 1 from their 39 yard line to pretty much end the game. Instead Chiefs RB Jamal Charles not only gets the 1st but breaks a 39 yard run for a TD to get the Chiefs back into the game.

After trading possessions the Chiefs punt with 9:57 back to the Bills down 13-10. Bills return specialists Leodis McKelvin catches the ball and fumbles just like he did 5 years earlier allowing KC to get the ball back. Two plays laters KC has the lead 17-13.

With 4:35 left the Bills get the ball back and drive to the KC 15 with a fresh set of downs. Kyle Orton proceeds to throw 4 consecutive incompletions as with which each throw it becomes clear the Bills are going to blow this and the offense just can’t do it.

 

Week 11: at Miami Dolphins Thursday Night Football, 22-9 loss: In a tight AFC playoff race the Bills had limited time to recover before a showdown with the Dolphins in Miami. With the toughest part of the Bills schedule to come the Bills desperately needed a victory to remain in the playoff race. Leodis McKelvin also decided to guarantee victory leading up to the game which was just a super idea.  Instead the Bills offense couldn’t make much happen wasting numerous opportunities in the Dolphins end and generated just 9 pts. Kyle Orton got a safety due to an arrant pass on 3rd and 24 while in the end zone to put the Dolphins up 12-9. But the Bills got a gift when Dolphins rookie WR/returner Jarvis Landry fumbles on return giving the Bills the ball in Miami territory. Again the Bills can’t convert and on the FG as Bills kicker Dan Carpenter push’s his 47 yard attempt wide preserving a Dolphins lead early in the 4th quarter. Buffalo crumbles from there and fall 22-9.

 

Week 12: New York Jets (home but in Detroit), 38-3 win: After two tough losses that made the playoff race far tougher the Bills had to go to Detroit to face the Jets after a snow storm of epic proportions hit the south half of the city shutting down everything for a week. Mario Williams famously got picked up because he couldn’t leave his house. The game was pure domination by Buffalo with the defining moment being Scott Chandlers TD to put the Bills up 14-3 and his subsequent Snow Shoveling celebration.

 

Week 13: Cleveland Browns, 26-10 win: In a cold snowy game the Bills defense thrashed Brian Hoyer and the Browns offense to the point the Bills forced Johnny Manziel into the game. The memorable play of this game was Kyle Williams absolutely wrecking Manziel with a sack that should’ve been a fumble touchdown for the Bills. Manziel laid their with a look like this isn’t for me. The Browns did out gain Buffalo as the offense for the Bills again lacked pop, but the defense has a touchdown and a few turnovers.

 

Week 14: at Denver Broncos, 24-17 loss: Against the defending AFC champions the Bills needed a win to stay ahead in the playoff race. The Bills defense came ready to play against an offense the year before that set league records. The Broncos turned the ball over 3 times including two INTs by Peyton Manning, but the Bills offense couldn’t get out of their own way and also turned the ball over three times. Defining this abysmal play was Bills QB Kyle Ortons “slide”. On 3rd and 2 on Denver’s 25 Kyle Orton was chased out right with decent shot for the first down marker with a little hustle. Instead he slid two yards short making it 4th and 2 still and the Bills settled for a FG.

 

Week 15: Green Bay Packers, 21-13 win!: Not many people gave the Bills a shot coming in but the stars aligned to one of the most memorable wins the Bills have had since 2000. In their blueberry unis (all blue) Buffalos defense had the day of its life harassing Rodgers throughout where he was never comfortable. The Bills offense and special teams did just enough. Three plays come to mind that define this:

 

 1. Down 3-0 the Bills forced Green Bay to punt when Marcus Thigpen returned the punt 75 yards for the TD. The Ralph was bedlam.

 

2.Late in the 3rd quarter down 16-10 the Packers started a drive and Rodgers ripped a deep pass to Jordy Nelson who had a step on the Bills safety. It hit the normally sure handed Nelson’s hands and was dropped. The Bills intercepted the Packers a few plays later (Bacarri Rambos second of the day)

 

3.Finally as the cherry on top of the Bills defensive masterpiece was the safety. With 2:07 left the Bills pinned the Packers deep on their own 10. On 1st down the Bills defensive line engulfed the Packers and Mario Williams sack fumbled Rodgers. The ball was recovered by Packers RB/Twinkie Eddie Lacy in the end zone for the safety putting the Bills up 21-13. 

 

The upset happened, it was amazing, and the first early step to the Bills gaining a little national recognition. For the Packers the loss cost them home field advantage for the NFC title and there is a major what if scenario for Green Bay if they didn’t blow that game.

 

Week 16: at Oakland Raiders, 26-24 loss: The Bills hadn’t won in Oakland since 1970 and their poor fortune followed them. Despite the Raiders poor record (3-12) they had some young studs like Khalil Mack and Derek Carr that had the team playing better then there record. A win for Buffalo kept them firmly in the playoff race while a loss eliminated them. Everything was off for Buffalo as the offense failed to sustain drives, the defense wore out and got injuries weakening their front four that had dominated all year, and the good fortune of the previous week just wasn’t there. The defining play though came with the Bills down just 19-17 with 5:07 remaining. On 3rd and 22 Derek Carr scrambled and looked deep for future Bills WR alumni Andre Holmes. Bills safety Corey Graham had coverage but completely misplayed it and allowed a 51 yard reception. That broke the Bills as the Raiders scored to go up 26-17 effectively ending Buffalos season.

 

Week 17: at New England, 17-9 win: Honestly yea it’s great they beat the Pats but the New England starters played a half and the game meant nothing to either team. Buffalo finished 9-7 on the year for the first time over .500 since 2004. Highlights? Stefan Charles sacked Tom Brady in the second quarter as the Bills led the NFL in sacks with 54.

 

So in closing that was 2014 a wild fun year that was one of the more memorable despite not making the playoffs. For many younger Bills fans like myself this was the first time in my adult life I got a small taste of the team being remotely relevant. I always wished if a team broke the drought it would’ve been this group as there were many likeable players. 2014 gave Bills fans a lot of hope for the future as the team finished with a winning record, the team had a great defense and some pieces on offense, and most importantly ownership dedicated to Buffalo. What could go wrong as they went into 2015 😀

Edited by corta765
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As always just an excellent job.  I remember all of these moments like yesterday when I read them, but I could not come up with them all just looking  back. Curious as to your research?  The NFL season yearbooks? Pro football reference website?  Or are you just an elephant?

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7 hours ago, Bills fan since 87 said:

As always just an excellent job.  I remember all of these moments like yesterday when I read them, but I could not come up with them all just looking  back. Curious as to your research?  The NFL season yearbooks? Pro football reference website?  Or are you just an elephant?

So it depends on the game but I use Wikipedia and it has a link for each game to the NFL score recap. That has literally every play and score on there. Additionally depending on the game I may watch the recap on YouTube which is 1-3 minutes. I enjoy it so it’s a fun activity. I do have a freakish memory for unimportant things so the Nelson drop against GB for instance I distinctly remember because I was there and you could literally feel the stadium breathe a sigh of relief knowing we dodged a bullet

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Good review.  That was a very frustrating team to follow; they consistently got your hopes up and then dashed them.  Rarely have I been more disappointed than after that Raiders game.  I’ve occasionally looked back and wondered what might have happened if Saint Doug did not take the money and run.  Schwartz likely stays, the D was on a roll, but the offense still needed major fixing.  Does the Shady trade happen?  Do they still bring in Tyrod?  Does Sammie get his head on straight?  You know having Rex Ryan around didn’t help matters.  They still needed a QB.

 

2015 and 2016 were low water marks for the franchise but everything happens for a reason.  So happy for where we are now.

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Good review of that season but I try not think about anything from those years when the Bills never made the playoffs.  The Bills hit a HR with Beane and McDermott and how they changed the culture of the Bills in a short period of time.

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The Green Bay win was particularly memorable as I watched it in a Waikiki sports bar at 7:00am local time with my soon to be son in law, his wedding party…and the pastor. Our daughter got married on the beach later that evening. Great memory! 

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56 minutes ago, Bray Wyatt said:

Love that you do these OP, but one quick glance, you sure it was Tyler Thigpen that returned the punt for a TD? 😄

PleasingEasyCopperbutterfly-size_restric

 

Lol whoops. Marcus has now been properly added as the returner

1 hour ago, Seasons1992 said:

I was at that GB game, it was incredible. Kyle Orton simply went 3 and out on every drive in the 2nd half, and the D/special teams won it. 

Then Oakland happened........barf.

 

Honestly the GB game was the best game I've seen live. The energy and environment was unmatched that day. Yea Orton and the offense basically played not to lose in the 2nd half and it worked because the D/ST beat the crap out of the Packers.

 

Oakland was soo disappointing because they scored a TD early and then just couldn't get out of their own way. After upsetting the Pack you hoped they would've been even more ready to go, but instead they almost let down. The injuries on the D line also exposed the defense wasn't as strong once the point of attack was minimized up front.

2 hours ago, Greg S said:

Good review of that season but I try not think about anything from those years when the Bills never made the playoffs.  The Bills hit a HR with Beane and McDermott and how they changed the culture of the Bills in a short period of time.

 

I got two more seasons to go and then 2017 comes, hang in there

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3 hours ago, eball said:

Good review.  That was a very frustrating team to follow; they consistently got your hopes up and then dashed them.  Rarely have I been more disappointed than after that Raiders game.  I’ve occasionally looked back and wondered what might have happened if Saint Doug did not take the money and run.  Schwartz likely stays, the D was on a roll, but the offense still needed major fixing.  Does the Shady trade happen?  Do they still bring in Tyrod?  Does Sammie get his head on straight?  You know having Rex Ryan around didn’t help matters.  They still needed a QB.

 

2015 and 2016 were low water marks for the franchise but everything happens for a reason.  So happy for where we are now.

 

I 1000% agree. The defense was playoff caliber, the offense had enough pieces to be competent yet the QB and play calling held everything back. My understanding is Doug wanted to roll forward with Orton the next season so the team maybe gets to 10-6, but like you said who knows if they get Shady who was probably the most important player and reason the team made the playoffs in 2017 to end the drought. Personally I think Marrone probably would've broken the drought, but the team never ascends to where it is now because of his arrogance and inability to grow a QB. Sammie if you read his piece recently said he was too immature and I doubt any coach would've fixed him at that time, heck McBeane traded him because of that. 

 

I wouldn't say 2015-16 were low water marks as much as wasted potential. If you put the 2015 offense with the 2014 defense they are not only a playoff team but probably good enough to win a game or two. Everyone knew that which is why 2015 was so damn frustrating because the offense ended up being top 12 in points and 13th in yards which was more then enough for the 2014 defense which we all figured would be at that level... except Rex. Tyrod was the perfect QB for those defenses in 2013-14 and ironically when they finally got him that support evaporated. 2017 was the weakest talent on both sides of the ball during the five year period from 2013-2017, BUT is a true statement of what good coaching can do. I still think McD does not get enough credit league wide for what he did that season.

 

Like you said it all worked out thankfully and to the teams credit they cut bait after 2016 when you could see Rex was a mistake.

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Great review.  I was in a bar in Folly Beach SC when that JJ Watt INT happened.  It was then at that moment that EJ was dead to me - no matter what he did going forward he was dead to me.

 

Again - awesome re-cap job!

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This season was right in the middle of my season ticket run.  I could sit down and have a conversation about anyone of these games.  The Green Bay game stands out for obvious reasons; but I have a fun memory from that game.  There were 4 of us in our group and the last home game, biggest game of the season one of the guys in our group decides to invite his wife and her two sisters.  They have to buy tickets a few aisles to the right of our normal 329.  Buddy with wife says "Don't worry, I got you covered.  I have a friend who can take the ticket but you might have to squeeze his father in too."  Sunday at 8am in the Hammer lot we find out his buddy and buddy's father are Packer fans.  The real deal.  UGH we all thought.  Also pissed the buddy with the wife never mentioned this.  

 

As the day played out however the Packer fan and his dad were cool as hell knowledgeable football fans.  Meanwhile my buddy, his wife and sisters found themselves surrounded by a group of rowdy Packer fans (next to, front and behind) who not once, but twice spilled beer all over him.

 

Justice.  Bills win.  Great great day.  Then the next week we get and early lead on the Raiders with a NE team next who will likely pack it in.....It was fun while it lasted, first time we had hope that late into a season in a long time.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Kwai San said:

Great review.  I was in a bar in Folly Beach SC when that JJ Watt INT happened.  It was then at that moment that EJ was dead to me - no matter what he did going forward he was dead to me.

 

Again - awesome re-cap job!

 

Thank you! So my uncle was a volunteer with Brighton Fire Dept in Buffalo well Tonawanda and he helped run a Sportsman raffle with food drinks prizes etc.. where you watch the game. Anyhoo yep same this happened as this was the game in 2014 for the event and the whole room (150 people) just went off about EJ. People still hoped maybe they could get it together and pull out the win but you could feel everyone was just like this guy aint it the moment it happened.

1 hour ago, MJS said:

It sure was fun having a great pass rush.

 

The cool thing with a pass rush that good was you knew every passing down something cool could happen and minus the Patriots home game they basically made every game winnable. Its hard to sustain that yearly, but when you have it the results are amazing.

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