Bills Playoff Hopes Dashed In Indy 20-13
Late game comeback falls woefully short.
by Steve Saslow
Week 12
Bills  13
Colts  20
Gameday Grades
The Skinny:
Poor play calling, questionable coaching decisions, and the pathetic play of the offense, especially in the red zone, all added up to a 20-13 loss to the Colts. The defeat pretty much puts the final nail in the coffin of the Bills playoff hopes. They had a lackluster effort in falling behind 20-6 thanks to a 75 yard punt return for a score by T.Y. Hilton and an 8 yard scoring catch by the rookie. The Bills finally got closer on a one yard touchdown pass by Ryan Fitzpatrick to Lee Smith. Chan Gailey had some head scratching calls including not trying a 52 yard field goal in the first half and punting on 4th down from their own 49 yard line in the final minutes effectively ending the game as they never got the ball back thanks in part to a pass interference call on Stephon Gilmore on a third down pass.

The Turning Point:
The Non FG Attempt: The Bills had a 4th and 14 and the Colts 34 after Fitzpatrick was sacked. Instead of trying a 52 yard field goal to get the score to 7-6 Colts they decided to punt. The net 22 yard gain on the fair catch gave the Colts the ball at the Bills 12. It drained the Bills who had some momentum after a Justin Rogers interception. Gailey showed faith in his defense that promptly allowed an 81 yard drive to a field goal.

The Big Drive:
The Colts Third Quarter Touchdown: The Colts first possession of the second half took 8:04 as they went 87 yards in 15 plays to the first offensive touchdown of the game and give them an insurmountable 17-3 lead against the Bills pathetic offense. Hilton beat Rogers in the back of the end zone for the 8 yard score on a third and goal play. That was the fourth third down conversion of the drive for Indianapolis including a 3rd and 17 pass to Reggie Wayne for 25 yards.

Stat I Did Like:
Johnson and Spiller's Numbers: Spiller had 107 yards on the ground, his sixth straight 100 yards from scrimmage game. Johnson had 106 yards for his first 100 yard game of the year.

Stat I Didn't Like:
Third Down Efficiency: The Bills were 4 for 13 on third downs while the Colts were 8 for 16.

Quick Slants:
- The Bills won the toss and elected to defer as usual. They rather get the second half kickoff. The Colts had to punt after gaining one first down. The Bills had to punt after the second half kickoff.
- If you don't trust your kicker to hit a 52 yard field goal indoors than you need a new kicker.
- Rogers had his first career interception. Stevie Johnson had a career long 63 yard catch and T.J. Graham had a career high 24 yard catch. Lee Smith had his first career touchdown.
- The Colts got two breaks in getting their last second field goal before halftime. Reggie Wayne clearly fumbled the ball but they ruled forward progress was stopped so they couldn't review it. The next pass was completed but short of the end zone. They scrambled to the line and spiked the ball as the clock was turning zeroes but it was ruled, correctly I think, that there was :01 on the clock.
- When Corey McIntyre went down with an injury, Kyle Williams was used as a fullback on the goal line. He was the first option on Fitzpatrick's touchdown pass to Smith but he wasn't open.

Key Matchup Results:
The winners of the battles highlighted in our preview article:
RT Leodis McKelvin vs. Colts Coverage Units: Winner: Colts Coverage Units. They held McKelvin and Brad Smith in check and the Colts scored a special teams touchdown so their unit was the clear winner.
CB Stephon Gilmore vs. WR Reggie Wayne: Winner: Wayne. Gilmore only covered Wayne when he wasn't in the slot for the most part. Wayne beat him a few times but he beat Rogers more. He had 8 catches for 102 yards in all.
RT Chris Hairston vs. LBs Robert Mathis and Jerry Hughes: Winner: Mathis and Hughes. They had help from Freeney on that side. Hairston gave up one sack to Mathis.
RBs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller vs. LB Jerrell Freeman: Winner: Spiller. Freeman was very busy with 16 tackles but Spiller had big runs to finish with over 100 yards on the ground. Jackson didn't do too much.
WR Stevie Johnson vs. CB Darius Butler: Winner: Johnson. He did have a 63 yard completion on his way to a 100 yard game.

Keys To The Game Results:
How the keys highlighted in our preview article turned out:
1. Third Down Stops: Failure! The Colts converted four on one scoring drive alone.
2. Don't Bite On Play Actions: Success! Seemed to do well in containment on defense.
3. Win The Turnover Battle: Success! Won it 2-1 but it wasn't enough to make a difference.

My Take:
The Bills needed this win to stay alive in the playoff race. They showed up and had a very uninspiring performance in a game they had to have. They mirrored the effort of their coach which was uninspired and way too conservative bringing up memories of Dick Jauron. They Colts were ripe to be beat but the Bills weren't good enough. The schedule may be easy but those teams are circling the Bills on their schedule as well as an easy mark. The bottom line is that the playoff hopes are dashed once again before the calendar turns to December. Another depressing holiday season for Bills fans everywhere.

What's Ahead:
The Bills come back home to face a team that is likely worse than them in the Jacksonville Jaguars. At least they are coming off of a victory. The Bills can't take any team for granted as both teams are just playing out the string now. Should be an excitement filled atmosphere at the Ralph next Sunday. Ugh!

  • Mario Williams - He was dominant with three sacks.
  • C.J. Spiller - He had 107 yards rushing and could have been used more.
  • Stevie Johnson - His 63 yard catch setup his first 100 yard game of the year. Showed incredible heart by making the tackle, forcing the fumble, and recovering it after Fitzpatrick's interception.

  • Goats
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick - Pathetic performance going 17 of 33 for 180 yards, a TD and a pick.
  • Chan Gailey - Looks completely lost on the sidelines. The team had to overcome him as well to pull off the upset. It was too much.
  • Bruce DeHaven - Two touchdowns in two weeks given up. His unit may have cost them a game.
  • Justin Rogers - Despite getting his first career pick they picked up on him time and time again.

  • Player Of The Week
  • Mario Williams - This was the player they expected to get when he signed the contract. Too little too late.

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