Week 14: Dolphins Whip Listless Bills 16-3
Offense fails to score touchdown for 2nd straight week.
by Steve Saslow
The Bills were held without a touchdown for a second straight game as Miami dominated from start to finish beating the Bills 16-3. The final score wasn't an indication how badly the Bills were outplayed especially when they had the football. J.P. Losman struggled and the Bills could do nothing in the running game as well. They finished with just 163 yards offensively. Miami scored on a 20 yard touchdown pass from Chad Pennington to Anthony Fasano to give Miami the 7-0 lead that proved to be enough. Dan Carpenter hit three field goals and Rian Lindell hit one for the Bills in the loss.
Miami got the early field position edge by moving into Bills territory on the opening possession. The Bills once again won the coin toss and once again deferred to the 2nd half. The past two games they gave up touchdowns in the same situation. This time they did force a punt after Miami crossed midfield and the Bills took over at the 5. They went three and out when Losman overthrew an open Roscoe Parrish on 3rd and 3 to force a punt.
Miami then took over at their own 45 and quickly moved into Bills territory for a 2nd time in the first five minutes of the game. After converting a third and one, Chad Pennington took to the air and hit tight end Anthony Fasano for a 20 yard touchdown to give Miami the early 7-0 lead. The Bills were once again in an early hole thanks to deferring the kickoff. Even though Miami didn't score on the opening drive the Bills were going uphill early on.
Thanks to a nice kickoff return by Leodis McKelvin and a 17 yard run by Losman the Bills quickly got out of the hole and into Miami territory. That is when the Bills rookie receivers got involved. A 14 yard catch by Steve Johnson got the Bills in the red zone. On third and 12 Losman apparently hit James Hardy for 11 yards. It was originally ruled a catch and a fumble that was recovered by Josh Reed at the 10. The Dolphins challenged that it was a catch and won as the pass was ruled incomplete. That forced the Bills to settle for a 40 yard field goal by Rian Lindell to put the Bills on the board.
Those two players showed just what a pleasant surprise the 7th rounder Johnson is and what a disappointment the 2nd rounder Hardy has been so far. Miami winning that challenge was a huge play in the first quarter as the Bills could have had four cracks at the end zone if the play was ruled a fumble. Fans were in an unusual spot of rooting for the fumble ruling to stand up over the incompletion. Either way, Hardy has to do a better job of holding on to the football on the rare chances he gets with it.
Miami went wildcat in the next series and the Bills countered by putting Ko Simpson in for McKelvin. It was effective until the Bills decided to drop seven in coverage on the next play and Pennington found David Martin opened for an 18 yard gain to set Miami up near midfield as the first quarter ended.
Miami had the lead and the ball in good field position so things were looking their way when the 2nd quarter got underway. Things continued to go well for Miami offensively as Pennington had all day to throw again for his second straight 18 yard completion on the drive, this one to Ted Ginn. The Bills defense stiffened thanks to a nice open field tackle by Bryan Scott playing in that three safety set. Of course everyone seems to hit long field goals against the Bills so it was no surprise when rookie kicker Dan Carpenter hit a career long 50 yard field goal to give Miami their one touchdown lead back at 10-3.
The two teams than traded punts. The Bills had to punt when they had two drops on one play. Losman dropped the ball, picked it up and then threw to a wide open Marshawn Lynch who also dropped it. That was the way it went for the Bills all day. They had a case of the dropsies as Robert Royal dropped a pass and Roscoe Parrish dropped a punt and Lynch dropped a second ball. Duke Preston snapped a ball off of his leg and Losman put it on the carpet twice.
The very quiet crowd inside the Rogers Centre allowed Miami to call plays with ease. Later in the first half, Ricky Williams broke off a 22 yard run to get Miami back into Buffalo territory. The Bills gave up another big play on 3rd and 16 as Pennington hit Davone Bess for a 15 yard gain and the fullback got two on 4th and inches to keep Miami's drive alive. Brown caught a 15 yard pass when the Bills dropped Ryan Denney into coverage and rushed Kawika Mitchell. The result was they got no pressure and Brown was wide open. The Bills defense held and Miami was forced to settle for another Carpenter field goal and a 13-3 halftime lead.
It was important for the Bills to have a good drive on the opening drive of the second half. It started off well as they moved downfield with a nice mixture of short passes. They couldn't convert a third down but did convert a fourth down on the series. Of course the way things have been going for the Bills it ended badly. Jason Peters was beaten cleanly for a sack that forced a fumble. Peters recovered but the play knocked the Bills from field goal range and they had to punt.
The Bills forced a punt and started moving down the field on their next possession. They got all the way to the Miami three yard line as they used a 23 yard catch by Reed and a Losman run coupled with a penalty to get them to their first and goal situation. This is where the coaching staff completely took away any chance of the Bills winning. Instead of trying to run it with Lynch they tried to outsmart their opponents and went to the air. Instead of throwing it away when Lee Evans was not open, Losman inexplicitly threw it up for grabs on first and goal! Of course it was picked off and the coaching staff put an exclamation point to the ineptness by challenging the interception and losing.
So instead of a possible touchdown to get them back into the game the Bills were deflated once again and Miami started marching down the field on the tiring Bills defense and the increasingly disinterested crowd. The defense put about another valiant stand after Miami moved past midfield once again. It was an interesting day for the defense as they came up with big stop after big stop while the offense was doing nothing. They could have helped the offense out more however if they would have stopped Miami quicker on at least a couple of series instead of losing field position on most drives. The offense started in a whole most of the game which didn't help with their ineptness.
They were losing the field position battle because they were losing the battle on third downs. On the Bills next series Losman was sacked on third down and they had to punt from their own 2 yard line. Miami got the ball back in Buffalo territory. The defense stiffened again once Miami moved inside the Bills 10. Carpenter hit his third field goal of the game to give them a 16-3 lead.
That 13 point lead was insurmountable the way the offense was playing. On the next series Lynch dropped his second pass and came up short on a 4th down reception when he caught it short of the first down marker. That clinched it as the Bills went a second straight game without a touchdown. They must have used all their points for the rest of the season when they put up 54 on Kansas City. They have put up six in the last eight quarters. Utterly disgusting.
After this game Rogers Media should be asking for their money back as the Bills put together their second straight downright awful effort. The defense played hard but the offense is just depressing. The coaching staff has no clue as they continue to look like they don't know what they are doing. Now even worse, they have seemed to lost the team. This team now has no chance of making the playoffs for a ninth straight year. The only positive to this game was that real Bills season ticket holders didn't need to waste their hard earned money on it. Some may say the result would have been different if the game was played in the elements at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The way this team is playing does anyone really think they would have won if the game was at the Ralph? This free fall is worse than any fan could have imagined. That 5-1 start seems like it was two years ago and not less than two months ago.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the 49ers:Gameballs