It’s the same old out of tune song for Buffalo sports fans:1112866

Wide right to lose the game. Where have we heard that one before?

For two straight years the Buffalo Bills have allowed the Cleveland Browns to hack a severe gash in their playoff hopes as the Browns beat the Bills 27-29 on Monday Night Football.

I have a lot to vent about, so brace yourself.

The report card: 

Best Performance in a Losing Effort: RB Marshawn Lynch. Finally, Lynch broke the 100 yard mark this season getting 23 carries for 119 yards. He was also Trent Edwards go to guy pulling in 10 catches for 58 yards and a TD. Lynch stepped up his defensive play by doing a great job blocking for Edwards and picking up the blitz. It’s too bad that his best performance of the year ended up being meaningless due to the atrocious play of his quarterback.

Most Drunk Award: Bills QB Trent Edwards. The guy looked horrendous, terrible, god-awful, [insert adjective here]. It seems for the past four weeks now we Bills fans have been thinking ‘that was Trent’s worst game all season’… well, that thought continued on Monday night. In his last four games Edwards has thrown only 3 TD’s and 8 interceptions. He hasn’t looked the same since suffering a concussion in week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals. He looks scared. In the first eleven and a half minutes of play Edwards threw three interceptions, effectively taking the crowd out of the game. Granted, the first pick wasn’t his fault as the ball was tipped at the line, but the next two were bone head throws that looked like something our old pal J.P. Losman would have done. Speaking of J.P., it appears as though Edwards has been taking notes from the former Bills starter. Edwards displayed Losman choreography all night long: three step drop, no steps forward, and unerring happy feet. The worst part about Trent’s horrible performance is that the excuses we were making for him the last four weeks were fixed in this game; a lackluster run game and a bad offensive line. Well, last night the run game had its best performance of the season and the O line gave Edwards all sorts of time to make a play. After the three picks, Edwards looked scared to throw the ball, going with his ‘panic’ option and tossing short passes to Lynch on the line of scrimmage… which leads me to the next award.

Biggest Head Scratcher Award: There were so many head scratching moments in this pathetic loss by the Bills it’s hard to pick just one. I suppose I’ll go with the most obvious, frustrating fact of the game: Lee Evans 0 catches for 0 yards. This stat is not the fault of Evans but of his scared, wussy quarterback, Trent Edwards. After the first pass of the game was tipped and resulted in an interception, Edwards threw zero balls to Evans. Zero. How the hell do you expect to win a game when you never throw a ball to your biggest play maker? The worst part about this statistic is that Evans was open all the time. This is not an overstatement. On nearly every route he ran, Evans was wide open. Half the time Edwards didn’t even check Lee and how he missed seeing him the other half of the time blows my mind. The head scratching has turned into hair pulling. Come on Trent, grow some balls and play. 

Worst Stat: Rian Lindell, wide right from 47 yards to win the game. Guh. Thank you history for throwing that one back in our face. Add it to the fact that last season on Monday Night Football Buffalo lost to the Dallass Cowboys by a last second field goal. By missing that kick, it’s unfair to make Rian Lindell the scapegoat of the game, and you can’t blame him for the loss.

Seriously!? Award:  However, you can blame Bills head coach [Limp] Dick Jauron and offensive coordinator Turk Schonert for the Bills loss. Especially for calling three poop-in-the-pants plays in a row preceding the potential game winning field goal. The three running plays were terribly executed, gaining 2, 2, and 1 yards respectively. The coaching staff did nothing to try and confuse the defense; no play action, no quick pass for a few extra yards, nothing. Let’s not forget that these plays were preceded by a 22 yard hook up of Edwards to TE Robert Royal to put the Bills in field goal range. Why not stick with what had just worked? Cleveland used all three of their timeouts in-between those plays, and the coaches couldn’t think of anything better to call than three lackluster runs? At the very least go in shotgun formation and give the ball to RB Fred Jackson, a play that worked against the Browns all game. But no, three lame, uninspired runs were used to set up a 47 yard field goal. Hey Dick [Head], history tells us that 47 yard field goals aren’t a gimme. Just ask Jim Kelly why he has no ring on his finger.

Lack of Common Sense Award: The coaching staff. In addition to all of the points I made above it bears mentioning that the Bills wasted four of six timeouts in this game due to not being prepared with a play. Three of these wasted time outs were absolutely inexcusable: 1) In the first quarter the Bills had a 3rd and 1 on their own 10 yard line and lined up with an empty backfield. Edwards looked confused [surprise!] and called a time out. Now, one would think that after calling a time out, you would adjust your play to what the defense had shown you. Well, that didn’t happen and the Bills lined up in the exact same formation and Trent threw his third pick of the day! 2) When in the third quarter, the Browns had a 3rd and 10 and the defense called time out. After the time out, QB Brady Quinn tossed a 23 yard pass to WR Braylon Edwards for a first down because [gasp!] the Bills faked a LB blitz! How typical. 3) This one is the game’s worst waste of a time out, and it came when the Bills were on offense. With 2:35 left to play Marshawn Lynch broke a 28 yard run to put the Bills on the Cleveland 1 yard line. Now, one would expect the Bills to rush to the line of scrimmage and keep the defense on their toes or at least enact their hurry up offense. But no. They didn’t. They called a time out. How the #$%* do you not have a play ready in that situation!? How? The Bills had an extra day to prepare for this match-up and they looked like a bunch of confused high school kids. Pathetic.

Biggest Mouth Award: CB Terrence McGee. Before the season began he promised a Bills playoff game this year. Seems like Terrence McGee is a lying sack of crap. I must admit, he did play well in this game, defending against six passes… Oops! I forgot about how he was playing 15 yards off of his man during Cleveland’s game winning drive. All the Browns needed was a field goal to take the lead in the final minutes of the game, and McGee is playing that far off of his man. Come on now Terrence. Come on now.

How in the Hell…? Award: Goes to the Bills offense. They (and by ‘they’ I mostly mean Trent Edwards) negated a great game by the special teams unit. The Bills average starting field position was on their own 35 yard line. That’s pretty darn good. Even better was that the offense commenced six drives from at least their own 41 yard line. This is how those six drives went: punt, field goal, field goal, punt, TD, wide %#&@ing right. Nice work offense. About the special teams, I have to give props to kick returner Leodis McKelvin who ran back a 98 yard kick off for a TD. Too bad on the ensuing kick off Lindell booted it out of bounds at the Cleveland 43, giving them great field position which turned into a Browns field goal. 

What The Hell Do You Get Paid For Award: Goes to the referee who failed to see Braylon Edwards mauling Terrence McGee on the first play of the fourth quarter. On this play Browns RB Jerome Harrison broke a 72 yard TD run. He was able to do this mainly because McGee was trying to not get raped by Braylon Edwards who was holding onto him like a psycho obsessive girlfriend. If not for this blatant hold, Terrence would have caught up to Harrison around the 30 yard line. This all happened right in front of the officials big fat face who was too busy watching the bouncing buns of a sprinting Harrison instead of catching an obvious holding call. Add this to the crap ‘unnecessary roughness’ call on Kawika Mitchell on the Browns next drive, and you have a duo of blind, patty-cake officials. Hey, it wasn’t Mitchell’s fault that Harrison lost his footing while being shoved out of bounds and smashed his head against a wall. Seriously, it wasn’t.

The Final Word: Mathematically the Bills aren’t out of the playoff hunt, but they will need a lot of help if they hope to make this season memorable. In the AFC East they are in last place at 5-5, with the Pats and Dolphins at 6-4, and the Jets are in first with a 7-3 record. It is very clear that the Bills need to start winning and other teams need to start losing for a playoff hope to exist. Trent Edwards needs to mature, and quickly. The fact that Bills couldn’t beat the Cleveland Brown stains doesn’t give me much faith. 

But faith is still there… somehow.

Billieve.

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Everyone please welcome back down to Earth your Buffalo Bills.

On Sunday the Bills lost their first game of the season, dropping to 4-1 against the 3-2 Arizona Cardinals, by a score of 17-41.

Ouch.

The report card:

NOOO!! Moment: When Bills starting QB Trent Edwards left the field after only his third snap of the game with a concussion, and disgruntled backup J.P. Losman had to take over.

Best Performance in a Losing Effort: This one’s tough as no player really stood out in the game. I suppose I will go with Marshawn Lynch because the guy never quits. Still, he has yet to break a 100 yard game this season, and the way he runs and takes hits makes you feel like he may be next on the injury chopping block.

That’s A Shame Award: The Buffalo Bills overall performance. A shame indeed. 

Biggest Disappointment: The Bills defense. They looked terrible. The Cardinals scored on all four of their first half possessions, and on three of six possessions in the second half. The biggest let down by the defense was in the second quarter after Bills QB J.P. Losman connected with WR Lee Evans on an 87 yard TD pass to cut the Cardinals lead in half, making the score 14-7. Instead of stopping the Cardinals on their next drive, the defense allowed them to find the end zone on a 1 yard TD run by RB Edgerrin James. And where the hell has the pass rush been all season long? It’s basically non-existent. This was the defense’s first true test against a good offense, and they need to step it up if they hope to be a contender in January.

Biggest Head Scratcher Award: Why the [expletive] didn’t Bills coach Dick Jauron challenge the Robert Royal fumble with 2:33 left in the 3rd quarter? At the time the Bills were down by only two scores. I have no idea why Jauron thought a timeout was more valuable than maintaining possession of the ball. Depending on your bias, it looked like Royal’s knee was down before the ball came lose. The turnover cost the Bills the game mentally, as the Cardinals scored a field goal on the ensuing drive, putting themselves up by three scores.

[Worst] Fact: Before this game the Bills defense was the best in the NFL on stopping third down conversions. Yet against Arizona they stopped only 4 of the 16 Cardinal 3rd downs, and couldn’t halt Arizona when they went for it on 4th and 1 early in the 4th quarter… jeez.

Best Sight to Behold: Losman to Evans for an 87 yard TD pass. It was cool to see that again. Unfortunately J.P. comes with a garbage truck load full of problems. All of WNY (and the Buffalo Bills team) sighed in pre-mature defeat when Losman took the field to replace Edwards. We all knew we’d seen this show before, and Sunday was no different than Losman’s previous four seasons with the Bills. I have one burning question about J.P: why does he always refuse to take a step or two up in the pocket, and how has this behavior not been corrected in five NFL seasons? Stepping up in the pocket would prevent him from both A) getting sacked so much and B) fumbling.

Pat on the Back Award: I suppose if there are games to lose they are the games against non-conference opponents… so take that for whatever it’s worth. 

Most Drunk Award: Everyone who thinks the Bills’ season is on the fritz with this loss. Relax. After being spanked by the Jets last week, and a below .500 record at stake while playing at home, the Cardinals were put in a pressured situation. They responded. Now let’s see if the Bills can.

Final Word: For three weeks in a row the Bills have had to play from behind by the end of the first quarter. They need to take the pressure off of themselves by scoring fast and early, which is what they did in weeks one and two. Since week 6 is a bye for Buffalo, hopefully key starters (Edwards, Parrish, McGee, Stroud) can get healthy and be ready to play against the San Diego Charges at Ralph Wilson Stadium in week 7. 

Billieve.

Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. 

On Sunday, the undefeated Bills rallied from a 14-6 deficit at the end of the first half to beat the St. Louis Rams at their home dome, 31-14. It was a great day to be a Bills fan.

The report card:

-Best Performance in a Losing Effort: Steven Jackson. The Rams star running back has been pretty quiet most of the season, but he made plenty of noise this past week. It all started when Jackson made his disgust known to the media of the Rams’ decision to bench QB Marc Bulger in favor of concussion man, Trent Green. Jackson made plenty of noise on the field yesterday as well, rushing for 110 yards and a TD in his best game of the season. He broke plenty of Bills tackles and was the first running back this year to reach the centennial mark against a tough Bills D. Thanks Steven for losing and still helping out my fantasy team!

-That’s A Shame Award: The Bills gave the Rams their first lead of the season with the score 7-3… It lasted less than 30 minutes.

-Pat On The Back Award: Bills head coach, Dick Jauron. With yesterday’s win, Jauron reaches the .500 mark with Buffalo. I like that. he deserves it. “If you’re asking me how I feel, I feel great. You know I’d take 4-0 over any other possibility we could be right now, absolutely. But we gotta keep going.” Bills nation agrees with you coach. 

-Biggest Disappointment: I wanted to see more hits on Trent Green. With only two sacks against him on the day, it wasn’t enough for sense memory to kick in on the QB who went down last season with a painful looking concussion. The Bills pass rush has been average at best this year, and needs to improve if the goose egg is to remain in the losses column.

-Most Drunk Award: Scott Linehan, the (former) Rams coach who as of this morning has found himself to be unemployed. Enjoy that whiskey on the rocks Scott. Enjoy it.

-Cool, But No Cigar Award: I commend Buffalo offensive coordinator, Turk Schonert, for calling numerous plays in which QB Trent Edwards passed the ball deep down field. This is something Bills fans have been wanting to see for years now, as former offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild rarely called deep passing plays. That wasn’t the case yesterday, but unfortunately, the Bills WR’s couldn’t come up with enough catches to make the play calling effective. 

-Biggest Head Scratcher: Why, after a 22 yard TD run by Fred Jackson, the Bills opted to kick the extra point as opposed to going for the two point conversion in order to tie the game. At the time Buffalo was down 14-6, the TD making the score 14-12. Initially the Bills went for two and made it, but the play was called back due to a Buffalo penalty. Coach Dick Jauron then opted to kick the extra point to make the score 14-13. I don’t get this call. Whether you make the two point conversion or not, you’re still down by a field goal but if you do make the conversion, the game is tied. I suppose it didn’t matter though as the Bills went on to kick the crap out of the Rams anyway.

-Performance Grades:

A: Jabari Greer. The CB had his first career NFL touchdown, which came in the form of a 33 yard interception return. The play couldn’t have happened at a better time as it gave the Bills the lead, and consequently the game winning score. Greer looked awesome on the play, avoiding a diving St. Louis offensive linemen as if to say, “No way fat man, I’m hitting pay dirt!”

B+: The Bills D. They stood tall against a star running back, a QB looking to make his way back into the league, and essentially a team who had nothing to lose. Despite their early struggles, the defense came up big in the second half by holding the Rams to zero points. Also, I give props to DT Marcus Stroud and CB Leodis McKelvin. Stroud was injured in the game but managed to tough it out as he continued to play, and McKelvin did a commendable job filling in for the injured Terrence McGee. Still, a better pass rush would be nice to see develop over the coming weeks. 

B: Josh Reed/Lee Evans. WR Josh Reed has become the ‘go to guy’ when a play goes wrong for the offense. When QB Trent Edwards’ inner monologue is a loud and clear “Oh Crap!,” he looks to Reed and Josh delivers. After a horrendous performance last week against the Raiders, Lee Evans rebounded with a solid ‘good’ game. Granted, Evans only had two catches on the day, but they were pretty ones. He caught a deep pass for 49 yards on the Bills first drive which led to a field goal, and then drove the dagger into the heart of St. Louis with his 39 yard TD catch to put the Bills up 28-14. I still await a breakout day for either of these two veteran players. 

C: Trent Edwards. The sophomore QB had his ‘worst’ game of the season going 15/25 for 197 yards with 1 TD, and 1 INT. The stats didn’t disappoint me so much as seeing Edwards sulking on the bench when the Bills were getting beat. That’s not the type of emotion I like to see emitting from my team captain, and it reminded me all too much of former starting QB, J.P. Losman. I don’t want to go down that road again, and I hope the end result of this game showed Edwards to not get down on himself when there is still time left on the clock.

D: James Hardy. The rookie WR had a chance to prove himself yesterday, starting in place of the injured Roscoe Parrish. Unfortunately the amazing game winning TD catch we saw against the Jaguars didn’t carry over to St. Louis as Hardy had a rough day. The rookie was getting a lot of looks from Trent Edwards early in the game, but he dropped everything and ended up with zero catches. Hopefully Hardy can shake this and become the receiver we all hoped he’d be on draft day.

F: Once again the big fat ‘F’ on the report card goes to the big fat OT, Jason Peters. For three weeks in a row, Peters has looked slow, out of shape, and not like the guy who was the only Bill voted into the Pro Bowl last season. He was called on holding during the Bills opening drive, negating a huge run by Marshawn Lynch in the red zone, turning a probable 7 points into only 3. Peters also had a false start called on him, which resulted in a Buffalo punt. Coach Jauron needs to get this guy in shape or off the field as he’s done nothing to help in the Bills perfect start to the season.

-Best Hit: Buffalo CB Leodis McKelvin on St. Louis WR Dane Looker. I’ll avoid the obvious pun on this and just say: Wow. After the hit, Looker tried to get to the sidelines, but couldn’t make it as he collapsed to his knees after taking a few steps. It took him more than 5 minutes to get off the field, and to top it off, Looker fumbled and McKelvin recovered. Awesome. 

-Best Sight to Behold: The entire 4th quarter. Apparently, the 4th quarter is when the Bills decide to turn it on and go for the win. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; The 2008 Buffalo Bills remind me of the 2005-2006 Buffalo Sabres. Like that squad of Sabres, this years Bills are young, fast, hungry, not predicted by anybody to go anywhere, and they turn it on when they have to, finding ways to win. To note, the Sabres started out that season 10-0…

-Best Fact: There were 25 unanswered points scored by the Bills in the second half.

-Best Quote: “We’ve really picked up one another. You know, the offense finished the game strong last week. We got those two big scores this week in the fourth quarter, so really it’s been a team thing. Nobody’s really blamed anybody for any downtime or anything like that. We really stuck together. That means a lot, man, [and] it’s going to pay off in the long run.” – Bills LB, Kawika Mitchell

-The Final Word: The Bills sit at first place in the AFC East at 4-0 and travel to Arizona this week to take on the 2-2 Cardinals. Yesterday Arizona lost one of their top receivers in Anquan Boldin who had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. I hope he’s okay, but this should be favorable for Buffalo as the Cardinals offense would be greatly affected with the loss of Boldin. Come next Sunday night, the Bills should be 5-0 heading into their bye week.

Billieve.