Week 12: Panthers Pull Out 13-9 Victory
Bills fail once again to finish game.
by Steve Saslow
The difference between Jake Delhomme and J.P. Losman showed in the Panthers 13-9 win over the Bills. In fact, the difference between the two teams was evident in the heartbreaking loss for the Bills. Its experience and knowing how to win. Delhomme took the Panthers on a 68 yard drive in 14 plays to the winning three yard touchdown pass with 2:16 left in the game. It came on a third down pass, something that killed the Bills once again, third down defense.
Losman tried to respond but his inexperience got the better of him. He ran the no huddle offense three times in this game. The first two times he drove the team to two of their three Rian Lindell field goals. The third time was the biggest on the field learning experience of his young career. He started the drive from his own 29 with 2:10 to play and two timeouts. He moved the ball to the Carolina 43 before he self destructed. First, he missed a wide open Eric Moulds for what would have been a winning touchdown that would have accelerated his development by leaps and bounds. The throw was way off target. On the next play, he may still have been thinking about the missed opportunity because he threw a game ending interception in the hands of Chris Gamble. He almost threw a pick earlier in the drive so perhaps his luck had run out.
It wasn't all bad on the drive as Losman converted a 4th down play to keep the drive going. He did do some very nice things on his way to a career high 197 yards passing. He completed a few third down conversions to go along with the 4th down conversion on the final drive and seemed to be confident running the no huddle offense. His success in that scheme must have made Jim Kelly proud watching on the sidelines. The difference is, the hall of famer, would have got a couple of touchdowns out of those drives.
The offense was muddled down most of the day except for three field goals they couldn't do much. One of the field goals was setup by a sack and forced fumble by Aaron Schobel. It was recovered by Chris Kelsay just before halftime that gave them a 6-3 lead. That was sandwiched around the two no huddle field goal drives.
The Panthers had field goals of their own on the first play of the second quarter and the final play of the third quarter. John Kasay also missed a field goal. The score was 9-6 Bills which setup the final minutes heroics. While the Bills played bend but don't break defense most of the game, they finally broke as they grew tired of being on the field all day. Some of it was because the offense couldn't sustain drives. When they did sustain them, they were usually in the hurry up mode. Some of the problem was the defense own inability to get off the field on third downs as the Panthers converted on 9 of 14 attempts.
The Bills are a tougher team at home and they showed it again today but as usual they showed they aren't mentally tough enough to finish off games. They had a chance to pull within one game of the Patriots in the AFC Least but showed once again that they have no chance at making the playoffs because they just aren't even close to being good enough. Playoff teams win games like this, mediocre teams lose them. Saying the Bills are mediocre is being nice because while that may be true at home, they are awful on the road. What does that make them overall? A bad football team that is playing for the future now. Losman showed enough to at least feel like there is some hope for the future. Now Willis McGahee needs to find the fire because he has flat out stunk the last month.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Panthers: