Week 16: Bills Lose Heartbreaker 30-29
Inability to stop the run cost Bills late in wild game.
by Steve Saslow
Well what a wild way for the Bills postseason dreams to come to a crashing halt. In a game filled with big plays and big penalties for both teams, the Titans got a 30 yard field goal with 2:10 to go and the Bills decided against a 45 yard field goal attempt late in the game into the wind and ended up losing to the Titans 30-29.
The Bills were driving for a winning score but on 4th and 5 from the Tennessee 28, the Bills decided against trying for the winning field goal with a kicker that was 5 for 5 on the day. Rob Bironas barely hit a 42 yarder into the wind in the 2nd quarter and the Bills felt Rian Lindell wouldn't have been able to hit it. He felt he needed to be inside the 25 and it was just a bit too long for him to try despite having the biggest game of his career.
It was a game of big plays, A long kickoff return by Terrence McGee set the Bills up on the opening kickoff but they had to settle for a 21 yard field goal. The Titans then had three big plays on their first series, and hit Bobby Wade for a 22 yard touchdown to get the lead at 7-3.
The Bills went right back down the field in the see-saw matchup that saw six lead changes. Peerless Price caught a 22 yard pass, as he had a big game against Pacman Jones, in that drive that ended up in a one yard plunge by Willis McGahee to give the Bills the lead at 10-7. He had a solid day in his matchup with Travis Henry but the former Bill had the better day. McGahee had 95 yards on 22 carries while Henry ran for 135 yards on 25 carries and took over the game in fourth quarter to lead the Titans back
A field goal battle ensued in the second quarter but Vince Young made the big play just before halftime. He rolled out on a 4th and 2 play and ran 36 yards for a touchdown just before halftime to give the Titans a 20-16 lead but he left :01 on the clock.
In this wild and wacky game that :01 was enough for a kickoff out of bounds, a 52 yard completion to Josh Reed, a facemask penalty and a 21 yard field goal by Lindell to pull the Bills within one at the half.
The Bills took over the game in the third quarter with the wind at their backs. A 37 yard touchdown pass to Lee Evans gave the Bills the lead at 26-20 and Lindell's fifth field goal added to it, but it could have been more. The Bills went to a gadget play where Losman threw a lateral to Evans who threw to a wide open Robert Royal in the end zone. It was a perfect pass but Royal neglected to get two feet down and the Bills had to settle for three. Of all the big plays in this game, that was the turning point. It gave the Titans life with the wind at their back in the fourth quarter and they were only nine points down. The four point difference turned out to be the difference between a win and a loss.
The Titans pulled within two, on a 29 yard touchdown pass by Young to Jones. Despite good field position in the fourth quarter, the Bills couldn't move the football and ended up losing the game on Bironas' 30 yard field goal.
It was certainly an exciting game with a lot of big plays. Young's long touchdown run before halftime. The facemask penalty that also gave the Bills three points from Santa Claus before halftime. The touchdown pass to Evans, the gadget play pass to Royal that just failed, the 60 yard run by Henry that was called back by a holding penalty. We can go on and on about which big play was the difference but it wasn't a big play that knocked the Bills out of the playoff hunt. It was the little things. The little things that have haunted the Bills all year. The inability to stop the run finally caught up with this young team and cost them a game. In the final drive with the wind at their backs, the Titans gained 58 of their 75 yards on their game winning drive running the football. The Titans gained 215 yards on the ground in the game and that is what sent the Bills to defeat. In this second half of the season comeback the Bills were winning despite giving up chunks of yardage on the ground, this week it came back to cost them a game they could have won.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Texans:Gameballs