Week 17: Ravens Too Much For Bills 19-7
Bills battle hard but didn't have enough against an AFC powerhouse.
by Steve Saslow
The Bills came to play but didn't have enough and were over powered by the Ravens in a 19-7 defeat to end the season 7-9. The defense for the Bills gave up four Matt Stover field goals but no touchdowns. The offense scored one touchdown on a 44 yard bomb from J.P. Losman to Lee Evans and gave up one on an interception return for a score by Chris McAlister.
It was an interesting first half, the Ravens dominated it as expected by more then doubling the Bills in yards, time of possession, and dominating on both sides of the ball on third downs. With that kind of advantage it was a testament to the Bills defense that they trailed only 6-0 at the break. The Ravens scored on a long opening drive and another long drive late in the first half as the Bills used their bend but don't break mentality.
The offense struggled mightily against the top ranked defense in the opening half and they were playing not to lose which is odd for a team with nothing to play for. Even a London Fletcher interception couldn't be converted into points. A solid Terrence McGee kickoff return to the 46 late in the half couldn't be converted into anything either as the Bills punted the ball away instead of going for it on 4th down at the Ravens 40.
While the Bills were still in it at halftime, it was on the scoreboard only, it was just a matter of time before the Ravens pulled away and the opening two plays of the 2nd half was an omen that things were going to get worse for the Bills. The first play from scrimmage was a holding penalty and the 2nd one resulted in a Willis McGahee fumble. The defense held again as the Ravens had to settle for another field goal to take a 9-0 lead. The way the Bills offense was struggling you knew the nine point lead was probably insurmountable for the Bills against the best defense in the league.
The Bills were not ready to lay down and die though as they responded to the big defensive stop and Losman had his best drive of the day. He went 5 for 7 for 79 yards on the ensuing possession and capped it off with a 44 yard touchdown bomb to a wide open Evans to pull the Bills to within two at 9-7.
The defense was playing inspired football and the offense was starting to move the football and the crowd was very quiet as an upset was possible. That was when the Ravens did what they do best, taking the ball away and scoring with their incredibly efficient defense. Peerless Price was out muscled for a pass by Chris McAlister for a 31 yard interception return for a touchdown to wrap up the game for the Ravens late in the third quarter 16-7.
The Bills didn't give up, there was no run for the bus in this team and they battled to the end on the road against a powerhouse team in a game that meant nothing. They had a third and one stop of a Steve McNair sneak and a forced fumble on a punt in the fourth quarter. The defense even held the Ravens to a late field goal when they were driving to wrap up the game late. The offense didn't give up either, on a 4th and 8 play Losman connected with Evans for 52 yards as he out muscled a defender for the ball. They didn't even give up when Losman's next pass was picked off and Samari Rolle was running for another defensive score. Losman ran him down showing his speed and came down hard on his knee in the process but he wasn't giving up another score. It shouldn't come as a surprise though, as nobody thought this team would be alive for a playoff spot with two weeks left in the season. They surprised a lot of people with their progress this year, it shouldn't have surprised anyone that they went down fighting.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Ravens: