Is the loss to the Titans the end to the Bills playoff hopes? Probably. After the bye, they go on the road against the Texans and the Pats. 4-5 is only one game better but it still looks better than 3-6 and a win against the Titans would at least give reason to believe that the Bills could beat the mediocre teams on their schedule, most of whom they play at home. Onto a quick review of the game:
The quick story:
The Bills, on the verge of a bye, needed a home win to stay in playoff contention. The Titans seemed to be the perfect team to follow up a strong defensive showing against the Cardinals. Tennessee is mediocre. If the Bills defense performed as they did against Arizona, the Bills would most likely win, especially if the offense could avoid sucking, which happens sometimes. Well, the defense immediately looked unsuited to the task. The vaunted Titans offense marched down the field on their first drive without reaching 3rd down. The second drive, the Titan Chris Johnson ran down the field 83 yards for another TD. However, the Bills had hope, as their offense came to play, most notably Freddy Jackson. At the half, the Bills were down 21-20, but this was a home game and they had the ball coming back to them.
The second half started and the Fitz fumbled away to the Titans who took the opportunity to score a TD. The Bills answered with 2 TDs, taking the lead for the first time in the game, 34-28. They were stopping the Titans offense. Everything seemed so dandy and sweet, but unlike Biz Markie, the Bills fans knew they were in for a treat. Even I knew, and I don't have the same ingrained fatalism that these depressing bastards have. On a 3rd and 7 with 3:03 left in the game, Fitz threw an INT to the right side, putting the Titans at their own 48. The Titans drove down the field to score, with some twist to the knife in the form of an unrecovered fumble batted out of bounds, a 27 yard run up the middle by Chris Johnson on the following 3rd and 1, a dropped INT by the Bills (LITERALLY RIGHT IN THE FUCKING CHEST OF GEORGE WILSON!!!!!!!!), and the inevitable game winning touchdown coming on a 4th and 9 on the Bills 15. Holy Christ was that depressing.
(1) Running backs. You can legitimately argue that this is the best tandem in the league. C.J. has demonstrated amazing speed and an adjustment to style that emphasizes moving forward more than moving laterally. Some of Freddy's runs this game were ridiculous. He does such a good job running after contact. They both are factors in the passing game as well. Freddy had 7.8 yards per carry, Spiller 5.8 yard per carry. That is fantastic running.
(2) O-Line. They have absorbed injuries and have more than done their job. In the passing game they are average, especially considering Fitz gets rid of the ball so quickly so he rarely gets sacked. However, they devoured the Titans with their run blocking. This is without Cordy Glenn who is a better run blocker than Hairston. Good day for them.
(3) Receivers. In general, they did a solid job. Not a standout performance, but a good performance.
(4) Kick returners. Brad Smith ran one back for a TD. McKelvin failed to win a guy a truck with a return to about the 50. They did well.
(1) Fitzpatrick. This is a bit tough maybe, but when you throw an INT that sets up the other team's game winning TD drive, you deserve some shit. Making a terrible attempt to engineer a 1 minute FG drive with 2 timeouts left ices it. The offense did do well enough to score 34 points, so Fitz obviously did a lot of good. However, his limitations prevent him from being effective late and close. I hinted at this in the Pats second half collapse thread, but you just don't know a bad 4th quarter offense until you watch the Bills. Fitz cannot throw sideline to sideline. He both lacks arm strength and accuracy to both sides of the field. His INT was a sideline pass a yard behind his receiver Donald Jones when it needed to be a yard or two ahead of him.
(2) D-Line. This time, the entire D-Line did not show up. The worst was Marcel Dareus, who may be playing injured and is still recovering from the loss of his brother. He could not get pressure on the QB and he does not maintain gap discipline. Running backs have taken note and take advantage. Probably equally as bad was Kelsay who is filling in for Mark Anderson. Kelsay had a wider variation in quality of play. He had a key sack in one of the defense's few stops, but he looked much MUCH worse than Anderson against the run, something I did not think possible. Mario Williams continued to be a non-factor as a pass rusher though he generally wasn't abused against the run. Kyle got a sack, but failed to be as disruptive as he normally is. The corpse of Shawne Merriman made an appearance. He actually had a really good play, bull rushing the RT and pushing him into Hasselbeck but that was the extent of his impact.
(3) Secondary. Stephon Gilmore looks better. Everyone else looks worse. George Wilson dropped a game icing INT on 2nd and goal at the end of the game. The safeties in general receded back into their typical play style, displaying no ability to react to the ball out of the QB's hands. I could go on but why? Matt Hasselbeck just tooled the Bills. Destroyed them.
(4) Linebackers. CJ2K is back because of the defense. With the D-Line playing the way they did, the LBs had little chance and they booted that little chance. They are blocked out of every play and allow the center of the field to be exploited at all times. Kelvin Sheppard should at least be good against the run and be able to take on blocker because he is so slow. He can't. Barnett should be smart and savvy as a veteran OLB, reading plays and using those developed instincts to minimize damage. He doesn't. They are just not good enough.
(5) Punter. The special teams coach Bruce DeHavens looked like a genius when the Bills return game gave them excellent field position. He looked like a fool when new punter Shawn Powell shanked a few kicks, assuring the already ailing Bills defense a short field to defend. The Moorman cut looks pretty bad. Moorman may have been losing it, but he was better than Powell.
Edited by Alternate34, 22 October 2012 - 08:12 PM.