That's it, folks. That's the final score.
Whether you threw something through your television, broke down and cried, or laughed it off with a typical "what do you expect, it's Buffalo" joke, Buffalo played their hearts out, were expecting to win it—not just keep it close—but in the waning moments broke your heart just one more time.
So, who's to blame?
It’s not just one man that cost this team the win, quite a few guys cost the Bills this one.
Let’s start with Terrell Owens. Where was he? I know the game plan was to get the ball in Fred Jackson’s hands, but two receptions for 46 yards—while it's actually great Y.P.C.—won’t get it done. A drop on third down was critical; Buffalo has to sustain drives if they want playoffs this year. Owens has suspect hands, and it showed.
Lee Evans also dropped a pass on third down, and even though it is uncharacteristic of him, it is not acceptable. Why wasn’t Josh Reed, Mr. Reliable, making those crucial third down catches? He made one and wouldn’t you know it, it got called back. Other than that, Reed wasn’t a target.
Overall execution and third down conversions were huge. Buffalo only completed 40 percent of their third downs and had a grand total of 276 yards to New England’s 441.
Which brings us to the next point: the offensive line actually held up okay. Edwards got sacked four times, but for the most part, he had time and put the ball on the money. It’s nice to see him make smart decisions.
Penalties killed the Bills' offense, though. Demetrius Bell in particular looked green. He had a holding penalty and two illegal formation penalties called against him. He also gave up two of the four sacks Edwards took.
I’m not saying he was horrible, but he’s got a long way to go. The good thing is he’s young and so are the guys around him, and so in time, this line can really grow together. Upside is there, so keep your chin up rook(s).
Outside of the fourth quarter, Buffalo’s pass rush was pretty good. Aaron Schobel had arguably the greatest game of his career with the sack and pick-six. Schobel is still the DE that plays Tom Brady best.
Aaron Maybin didn’t look like a world beater, but he certainly showed promise at times. He runs fast and is always moving, even if he is getting engulfed by much bigger offensive linemen. You also have to add into account that he was put in strictly situational roles throughout most of the game.
The DBs gave up the dink and dunk, though. Randy Moss and Wes Welker both combined for 24 completions for over 200 yards. Nobody can really be sold on the way Buffalo plays their pass coverage. They give too much of a cushion and don’t play enough press.
Against the run, Buffalo did a pretty good job, but they need to find a way to force the opposing team to run the ball if they want to win games because they absolutely cannot stop the pass.
Brady threw two touchdowns and guess what: It was the exact same play call, and the ball went to the exact same player, Ben Watson. Keith Ellison did a nice job trailing Watson, but he gave up those big plays, which should make Bills fans uncomfortable now that Paul Posluszny is out indefinitely with a broken arm.
Finally, Leodis Mckelvin should have never taken that ball out of the end zone. You really can’t place any blame on him for being aggressive and having that win-the-game mentality. But if you have that mentality, you must protect the football. He failed to do this.
Now, there are rumors about a player on Buffalo’s squad house being vandalized because of the loss and if that’s true, it’s a very class-less act.
Who could it be?
Bell, for all his penalties and sacks? McKelvin, for the fumble? Or Ellison, for giving up two big touchdowns on the exact same play call? Or was it somebody else entirely?
Word will get out eventually. Ultimately though, the team lost; this is a team sport. Buffalo could have won the game, but in the waning minutes of the game, instead of putting the heat on Brady, they chose to drop seven and rush four. It should have been the other way around.
Rush seven, drop four; that’s playing to win when you need a win with your defense. Dick Jauron and Perry Fewell would do well to remember that next time.