Bills Vs Bears: Buffalo Loses Third Straight Game By Three Points
The Buffalo Bills lost to the Chicago Bears 22-19 on Sunday, in Toronto, as the Bills saw a fourth quarter lead disappear and dropped their third straight game by three points.
Turnovers once again came back to haunt the Bills as they lost the ball three times versus the Bears' one turnover. The Bears took the lead for good after returning an interception for 39 yards, and padded their lead by converting on a two point play.
For the Bills, they scored three touchdowns against a tough Bears defense, but a blocked kick on an extra point try by Rian Lindell helped change the final outcome of the game.
Bills Offense Continues to Move The Ball Against Good Defensive Units
Coming into the contest, the Bears defense was the toughest unit to convert against on third down, as they only allowed first downs on 29.6 % of the time. The Bills however didn't seem to have that many problems moving the ball, as they converted on 10 out of 16 tries on third down.
The Bills' offense outgained Chicago's 340 yards to 283. Mike Martz is thought to be the pass crazy coach, but it was the Bills behind quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick that threw the ball 51 times. Of course, if you are passing it that much, it means you aren't running the football. The Bills didn't stick very long with their running game, and they only picked up 46 rushing yards.
Ryan Fitzpatrick fell just one passing yard short of the 300 mark. He was sacked once so his final net total was 294. Fitzpatrick completed passes all day to Steve Johnson, who caught 11 balls for 145 yards. Roscoe Parrish had the only touchdown reception for Buffalo. He caught seven passes for 60 yards. Lee Evans rounded out the offense with three passes for 31 yards. Tight end Shawn Nelson was nowhere to be seen as he was mysteriously absent from the Bills' offense for the second week in a row.
The Bills' offense continues to click behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. They only had one three and out drive for the day, which was their opening drive. That is a vast improvement over what the Bills did in 2009.
Bills Defense Shows Improvement
Despite facing the NFL's worst offensive line that had allowed 31 sacks coming into the game, the Bills showed that their pass rush is still not very effective, as they came up with only one sack for the day. That sack was a big play, as Spencer Johnson was credited with a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery.
Bills fans are hopeful that the recently claimed Shawne Merriman will boost the pass rush, because the Bills just did not get to Cutler enough today. Even though the Bears led the NFL in number of interceptions thrown, the Bills secondary was shut out from a pick again, which comes back directly to the lack of heat they put on the quarterback.
The defense did stiffen to only allow 105 rushing yards to the Bears and hold pass-happy Jay Cutler to less than 200 yards passing (178). The Bills' defense was on the field for fewer plays, but Chicago won the time of possession battle (31 minutes to 28 minutes).
Return Game Wasn't a Factor
One of the more intriguing matchups of the day never really materialized. The top two punt returners in the league, Miami Hurricanes' grads Roscoe Parrish and Devon Hester, were looking to outduel each other. Parrish had one punt return for six yards, while Hester returned one punt for three yards.
C.J. Spiller did not have a single yard in kickoff returns, due to kicks sailing into the end zone or being kicked out of bounds.
The Bears did manage to punt the ball down to the Bills' one yard line prior to the final drive of the game, which had an impact on what the Bills were trying to do as the clock began to expire.
How Do The Bills Turn Close Losses Into a Win?
For three straight weeks the Bills have either had a chance to win a game in overtime or had a lead in the fourth quarter. The fact that they are still winless has to bug them to no end.
The team continues to work and play hard, despite knowing that they have been eliminated from all playoff consideration. The Bills need to learn how to win, and Chan Gailey continues to preach and teach, hoping that these valuable lessons they are learning now will turn out to be turning points for the team in the long run.
Nobody appears to be losing faith in Gailey, and the players continue to play hard and say the right things about the coach. It is just painful that they keep coming so close to winning, only to come up just short due to a turnover or a missed field goal.
Will Shawne Merriman Make A Difference?
Shawne Merriman arrived in time to join the Bills in Toronto for the game as a spectator, not as a player. Merriman will be working on understanding the terminology for the Bills' defense and catching up on the playbook. Once he has mastered those and convinced the coaching staff that he is in football game shape, the Bills will trust their newest member to show the rest of the defense how to get to the quarterback.
The Bills' next opponent is the Detroit Lions. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was again banged up due to a hit, so if the Bills can generate some heat next Sunday, they might capture that elusive first win.
No word yet whether Merriman will be able to go in a week, as he has been sidelined most of this season.
How Is the Toronto Fan Base Taking To The Bills?
The crowd seemed to be split between Bills fans and Bears fans. The game was not a sell out, as it came about 4,000 people short, based on the announced totals.
The Bills have now dropped all three of their regular season contests in Toronto, and only have two years left on the Toronto series to pick up a win north of the border.
Hopefully they pick a win up south of the border before their next Toronto game. That chance will come against the Detroit Lions next Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Roscoe Parrish Injured?
Roscoe Parrish was hurt trying to make a catch on the sidelines and was seen wearing a huge wrap on his right hand.
Terrence McGee was declared inactive, as were the usual suspects--Aaron Maybin, Ed Wang, John McCargo, Alex Carrington etc.
The Bills will have to get to work and stop shooting themselves in the foot if they are to get a win. Keep the faith Bills fans, this team is still playing hard and trying to improve.