Week 3: Falcons Knock Off Bills 24-16
Defensive third down struggles doom Bills.
by Steve Saslow
So much for getting off to a fast start this season, the Bills dropped their second straight game with a loss to the Falcons. The defense couldn't stop the Falcons on third downs or the running game. The offense couldn't get the ball in the end zone, settling for field goals on three of four scoring chances.
What makes the loss even worse was the potential season ending achilles injury to Takeo Spikes. I would like to tell you that the defense went downhill after the Spikes injury, but they struggled with him in the lineup as well. How bad was it? They had no answer for the DVD running attack of the Falcons that tore it up even worse than the Bucs did last week, as they rumbled for 236 yards on the ground and 403 total yards offensively. The Falcons were a whopping 58% on third down conversions to keep the ball moving.
The offense wasn't any better, as they only could muster 208 yards on offense, and 140 of those were by Willis McGahee. The team lost for the first time in which McGahee ran for 100 yards in his career. That is because J.P. Losman failed horribly once again as he finished with 75 yards passing, netting just a pathetic 36 passing yards, thanks to four sacks. That wasn't as bad as it got though, in the fourth quarter, Losman threw an interception, failed to convert a third down QB sneak, and fumbled the ball away as the Falcons answered the Bills at every turn.
The Bills actually scored on their first three possessions, but two of the scores were field goals as they sputtered in the red zone once again. The Falcons responded with two scoring drives on their opening possessions, they got two touchdowns though against the overrated Bills defenders.
Both teams were aided on first half drives by penalties. The Bills were actually called for roughing the passer twice on one series. The Falcons helped a Bills field goal drive with a roughing call of their own and a pass interference call.
The Game was a one point game with less than two minutes to go before the half but the team allowed a 59 yard run by Warrick Dunn to setup a last second field goal. That was on the same fateful drive where Spikes got hurt. It gave the Falcons a 17-13 halftime lead.
The defense played better in the second half, getting the first turnover of the game, a Chris Kelsay interception. That setup Rian Lindell's third field goal of the game to pull the Bills back within one point at 17-16.
They never got close again as the Falcons scored on a 12 yard run by T.J. Duckett to wrap up the game. The special teams came up with a fumble recovery but you just knew the Bills wouldn't respond offensively.
This team is in danger of coming apart at the seams. We knew Losman would have growing pains but this is worse than anyone imagined as he has been downright pathetic the past two games. The only offensive weapons so far are Lindell and McGahee. Willis seemed to run with purpose today and had a huge game including his first touchdown of the year. The team will live and die offensively by the run. Now they can't even win when they run well, sometimes you have to pass and I'm not sure Losman is ready to do that at this point in his young career.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Falcons: