Two games into the Mike Mularkey era and everything seems eerily familiar to the old Gregg Williams era. Stop me if you've heard this before: A pathetic performance by the offense and untimely penalties by the special teams was too much to overcome. Another valiant effort by the defense went to waste as the Bills fell to 0-2 with a 13-10 loss in Oakland.
The Bills played a similar style game to last week as it was a close to the vest defensive battle, the same type of football that Mike Mularkey wanted to play but he couldn't even imagine that the offense would be as bad as it was last season.
Every time the offense moved the ball downfield they would shoot themselves in the foot. Every good drive seemed to end with a sack. The Bills lone field goal drive was setup by two major penalties by Charles Woodson. Another potential field goal ended with one of seven count them seven sacks against Drew Bledsoe. Then the final dagger in the heart came on the first play of the fourth quarter when on fourth and goal from the one the Bills decide to go for it figuring it was there only chance at a touchdown. The smash mouth offense couldn't even punch it in as Travis Henry tripped over one of his lineman and was stopped short.
The Bills managed to finally get a touchdown on offense in the final minutes when Bledsoe completed a 65 yard bomb to Lee Evans who got behind the coverage and had to wait an eternity for the under thrown ball to come down. Bledsoe than hit Eric Moulds for a touchdown on a ball that was tipped by a Raider defender. So, the Bills only touchdown came on a fluke play. They did not recover the ensuing onside kick, although they had a chance at it, and the game was over.
The defense played a nearly spectacular game once again, unfortunately they need a perfect effort for this team to win with the offense in a shambles. They faltered late in the game as they appeared to tire and gave up big yardage in the running game setting up a Sebstatian Janikowksi chip shot field goal that proved to be the difference.
The Raiders dominated the game but the Bills bend but don't break defense kept the Raiders at bay most of the game, the Raiders only touchdown came on the worst defensive play of the game. Rich Gannon connected with Ronald Curry for a 43 yard touchdown on a third and 27 play. Rashad Baker was in coverage on that play and left Curry wide open. Their other field goal came after the only turnover in the game. Bledsoe through a pick off the hands of Travis Henry on the opening series of the second half. It was returned by Ray Buchanan to the Bills 12 yard line but the defense held. This unit even scored two points but a bad call by the referee robbed them of a safety. There was holding in the end zone on Roland Williams but the referee said the holding started at the one yard line and put the ball there instead of awarding the safety.
It was a boring, low scoring affair but the Bills showed once again that they aren't good enough to pull these games out. It's a problem because this is the type of game they will play all year, it is by design and by necessity. The offense is as bad as it was last year and Tom Donahoe has to take a major hit on that one. They did re-design the offense to beat blitz packages but it seemed like a replay of any game last year, as Bledsoe was constantly hit with little time to throw.
Special teams did not help out as there were three critical penalties that stopped big plays. Holding calls wiped out long returns by Terrence McGee and Nate Clements. Kevin Thomas was called for illegal touching when he downed a ball at the 2 after going out of bounds. He made up for that play though by catching a pass from Brian Moorman on the re-kick giving the Bills a first down.
The Bills now have a bye week to regroup, but unfortunately so does the Patriots as they will have two weeks to prepare a host of blitz packages for Bledsoe as the Bills have a very good chance of falling to 0-3. Not the way Mike Mularkey wanted to start his era in Buffalo.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills loss in the "Black Hole":