Yes, I know a dolphin is a mammal. 

That must be the reason why no fish were squished this past Sunday by the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills (5-2) lost their first divisional game on Sunday against long time rival quarterback, Chad Pennington and his Miami Dolphins (3-4).

To be painfully blunt, the Bills looked pathetic. After keeping the NFL’s highest powered offense under control last week in the San Diego Chargers, week eight’s match-up against the rebuilding Miami Dolphins should not have concluded as a 16-25 loss.

But it did. Onto the report card:

Best Performance in a Losing Effort: Rian Lindell. He kicked three field goals (19, 43, 47) yesterday. Good for him for keeping the Bills in the game for awhile.

Biggest Head Scratcher Award: Why do the Bills always fake the blitz? The linebackers will line up as if they’re going to come at the QB, but then drop back into the zone once the ball is snapped. When the Bills drop back and allow talented QB’s to complete quick passes, it’s reflective of the style of Trent Edwards and how he succeeds against defenses. The Bills defense has played this way all season long, most specifically this week against Miami and the previous two games against San Diego and Arizona. The Cardinals amassed 250 yards passing and 2 TD’s, the Chargers 208 passing yards and 2 TD’s, and the Dolphins 314 passing yards with 1 TD against a soft Bills defense. Could these stats be worse? Of course. However, everything isn’t as it appears on paper. In watching these games it is obvious that when the Bills do blitz, they usually come up with a big play. The Bills need to change their unaggressive style immediately and attack the opposing team’s quarterback. The four man rush does not work. 

‘Coolest’ Stat: In 108 straight games the Buffalo Bills had not blocked a field goal. That is the longest streak in the NFL, and it was snapped Sunday when Langston Walker blocked a 46 yard Dan Carpenter field goal attempt late in the second quarter. Unfortunately that’s the best stat of the game for the Bills.

Lack of Common Sense Award: Goes to BIlls CB Terrence McGee and head coach Dick Jauron. McGee was obviously not 100% healthy yet as he got burned by Ted Ginn Jr. all day long. Why didn’t he say to Coach Dick Jauron he wasn’t ready to play? Why didn’t Jauron pull McGee? Is there that little faith in rookie CB Leodis McKelvin? 

Seriously!? Award: This one goes to Miami WR Ted Ginn Jr. who had a career high day, pulling in 7 receptions for 175 yards. Of course, he was paired up against a wounded Terrence McGee, making his life a lot easier. But still, he was allowed 175 freakin’ receiving yards! This guy isn’t Randy Moss or Terrell Owens for poop’s sake, he’s Ted Ginn… Junior. The Bills allowed this no name to amass 175 yards!? Seriously!? 

Face the Facts: When the Buffalo special teams unit performs, the Bills have a better chance of wining. In this game the Bills had 0 punt return yards and a mere 19.6 yard average on kick-off returns. Last week against San Diego the Bills averaged 5 yards per punt return and only 19.3 yards per kick-off return. In week 5 against Arizona, Buffalo averaged 17 yards per punt return (there were only two) but a mere 20.9 yards per kick-off return. Compare that to an average of 54 yards per punt return along with a 26.5 yard return average on kick-offs in week one against the Seattle Seahawks, and a week four punt return average of 15.6 yards paired with a kick-off return average of 32.3 yards against the Rams, and my point becomes clear; This is not the special teams unit we are accustomed to seeing. Teams have opted to strip the special teams advantage away from the Bills by not kicking to Roscoe Parrish and Leodis McKelvin. When this element of the game is taken away from Buffalo, the team struggles. And it hurts.

NOOOOO!! Moment: When Bills WR Josh Reed went out of the game with a sprained achilles. Dick Jauron has stated that he wants to take the time in allowing Reed to recover and does not wish to take any chances. Wonderful. Hopefully rookie WR James Hardy will step it up. So far he has been less than average this season having only 7 receptions for 66 yards and a TD accompanied by a whole mess of drops. 

Most Drunk Award: Goes to Bills QB Trent Edwards. After the Dolphins went up 20-16 early in the fourth quarter, the camera panned to the Bills sideline. There, Edwards was seen sitting alone on the bench with a defeated, frustrated look on his face. This pissed me off. In weeks before when the Bills were down, Edwards could be seen on the sideline amping up his team, itching to get back on the field to regain the lead. Need I remind the reading audience of the Bills 4th quarter come backs against Jacksonville, Oakland, and St. Louis? No? Well, maybe I should have reminded Trent. At this point the Bills were only down by four points with nearly an entire quarter left to play. Yet, here is our star quarterback looking as if the game is already over. I don’t like that. That is the behavior J.P. Losman was privy to. Trent Edwards is supposed to be a leader. So lead Trent. 

That’s Weird Award: Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan and Trent Edwards both threw simultaneous interceptions. While watching the Bills game on TV and following the Falcons game on NFL.com’s live feed, I witnessed this awful stat take place. Edwards threw his pick at exactly the 15:00 mark of the 4th quarter, and Ryan tossed his turnover at 2:20 left in the third against the Philadelphia Eagles. Both QB’s lost their games.

It’s About Damn Time Award: This was the first game in which Trent Edwards looked like a rookie. Edwards was 21/25 with 227 yards, a pick, 0 TD’s, 2 fumbles, and a safety. Yikes. Here’s to rebounding in week nine…

What The Hell Do You Get Paid For Award: Congratulations Robert Royal! I commented positively about his game play in week 1 against Seattle, as well as his pre-season play. Thank you Robert for making me eat my words. In this game he had three drops and a fumble which ended any Bills hopes of a comeback. Oh yeah, Royal did have two catches for 26 yards… horray.

Final Word: I could continue with this weeks report card, but it’s too depressing. When the 2008 NFL season is in the books, this game has the potential to be looked back upon as a pivotal turning point for both the Bills and the Dolphins. Miami looked very impressive on Sunday, and this could be the win they needed to steer their season in the right direction. More importantly, this game has the potential to knock the Bills down a peg. Next week Buffalo takes on the Jets at home which is followed by a road trip to New England. That’s three divisional games in a row and with this loss, the Bills have allotted themselves no margin for error. The AFC East race for first place is a tight one with the Bills and Patriots at 5-2, the Jets at 4-3 and the Dolphins at 3-4. Only time will tell how all of this will play out, but it continues next week at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Billieve.

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