105.5 The Team – The run game was working. The defense was lights out and the Bills held a 15-point lead with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter. What followed can only be described as a meltdown of epic proportions as Buffalo’s offense went ice cold, the defense opened up and in the blink of an eye Oakland exploded for 29 unanswered points to win 38-24. Even worse, the Bills playoff hopes for this season are now teetering after dropping to 6-6 on the season.
Here’s 5 Yays and Nays from Week 13:
1) LeSean McCoy
He’s becoming a regular on here and he’s earned it every time. It was just another day at the office for McCoy who left Oakland defenders whiffing all afternoon to the beat of 130 rushing yards and 7.6 yards per carry. For the second consecutive week, Shady also started the second half with a bang, breaking off a 54-yard run, which one play later became a Bills touchdown. McCoy’s performance will get lost in the embarrassing collapse, but man did he deserve better.
2) First quarter Tyrod Taylor
On the Bills first possession of the game, Taylor was at his best, marching the Bills down the field on a 10-play, 72-yard drive what ended with a field goal and an early lead. On the series he completed six of his seven pass attempts for 74 yards. On their next possession he’d complete two more passes on a run heavy touchdown drive that put them in front 10-3. He’d go on to complete one more pass the rest of the half then became a non-factor after the break, as you know. His hot start deserves some recognition because it helped Buffalo seize control of the game early. Unfortunately, it wound up being fools gold.
3) Marcell Dareus
His four tackle, two solo performance pales in comparison to his eight tackle two sack effort in Week 12, but for most of the game Dareus was a major reason why Oakland couldn’t get anything going with their ground game. While he’s dealt with his fair share of injuries since returning from suspension, there’s no denying he’s been every bit the dominant player the Bills need him to be.
4) The offensive line
McCoy’s individual effort was a thing of beauty, made easier by the blocking up front along the offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, McCoy and Mike Gillislee earned 114 of their 179 combined yards before contact. That’s 63 percent of their combined yards. Jerome Felton deserves a nice shoutout here too as the lead blocker out of the backfield. What a day he had. The Raiders defense was getting manhandled by Buffalo’s O-line up until the early stages of the third quarter. The Bills are back in front of Dallas as the league’s top rushing team and may claim that crown for a second consecutive season.
5) Three home games await
Can you tell I’m fishing? In typical Bills fashion they entered the month of December “in the hunt” and may be quietly put to rest depending on this upcoming weekend’s result. Rex Ryan always champions his team’s fight, well we’re gonna find out if they have it. They can’t afford a loss in any of their final four games. Knowing that three of them will be played at home though, with that rumpus New Era Field crowd on their side makes an uncomfortable position feel a little more manageable.
1) The inability to close the game
Good teams do this. It’s as simple as that. And after building a double-digit lead on the AFC’s top team, the Bills proved once again that they’re not a good team. They’re average, just as their record says they are. Blame it on the defense, blame it on the coaching, blame it on Tyrod Taylor; whatever the reason, the Bills had their foot on the Raiders throat and failed to put them away. Over the last 15 years, Oakland had lost 72 straight games when they trailed by 15 plus points. The fact that they ended that streak certainly speaks to how far that franchise has come, but it’s more telling of how far the Bills franchise still has to go.
Sports is often about what have you done for me lately, and despite Tyrod Taylor’s hot start, the remaining three quarters left a lot of room for criticism. After the first quarter Taylor completed only 10 of his 26 attempts for 89 yards and committed two turnovers. He also finished with the worst passer rating of his career (55.8). All this against a pass defense that ranked in the bottom third in the league entering Sunday. Pro Football Focus discovered that Taylor was zero-for-three on attempts that traveled 20 or more yards and only five-for-14 on attempts that traveled 10 yards or more.
What’s most concerning though is that when things started “snowballing” – as many players described it – in the Raiders favor, Taylor was no where to be seen. After Mike Gillislee’s second touchdown, which pushed the lead to 24-9, Taylor and the Bills offense went three-and-out on three straight series before LB Kahlil Mack induced an interception and a fumble to seal the deal for Oakland. Somewhere in that sequence of five drives, Buffalo needed their offensive general to step up and make plays, not vanish. Taylor was inaccurate throwing the ball and often held onto it too long. Basically the same issues he’s always demonstrated continued, only this time they came in the most critical time of the game. There’s plenty of blame to be placed on the defense as well. They struggled to preserve the lead that Taylor and the offense gave them. But the Raiders themselves provide the perfect example of why the play of your QB trumps defense. Oakland has won games this season by scores of 35-34, 28-27, 34-31, 30-24, 35-32, 38-24. Derek Carr has six fourth quarter comeback wins this season, that’s six times he’s bailed out his porous defense. Good quarterbacks do that.
3) The secondary
It’s becoming more and more evident that the Bills have a real problem at the safety position. Corey Graham has done his best to keep things organized on the back end but the absence of Aaron Williams looms large. The rotation of players who have attempted to replace him have all show lapses in coverage. Credit Doug Whaley for going out and attempting to patch the hole by signing Sergio Brown and James Inhedigbo, but it’s far from resolved. Safety may be at the top of the Bills wish list for the 2017 draft. As far at the cornerback spot is concerned, as rough as a year Ronald Darby has had at times, Buffalo needed him on Sunday. Rookie Kevon Seymour had a forgettable debut starting as the left CB. Of the six passes thrown his way, three of them were completed and two were touchdowns. Luckily, Rex Ryan revealed today that Darby is out of the concussion protocol heading into Week 14.
4) Rex Ryan’s defense
As much as Taylor and the offense deserve blame for falling completely apart in the second half, the defense warrants their fair share. That 15 point lead was gone in an instant as Oakland scored four consecutive touchdowns and 29 unanswered points. Now granted two of those four drives started deep in Bills territory at their 38 and 16, so the defense was set up for failure in those cases. Regardless, they needed to be be better. They entered Sunday as a top 10 defense and were far from it in that second half. Their pass rush went sack-less for the first time this season and they lost the turnover battle. It’s hard to ignore that through the better part of two seasons, Ryan’s defense has shown little to no consistency. Like Taylor, his job security is teetering and this collapse did little to help his case.
5) Colton Schmidt
Schmidt had one of his worst performances of recent memory. Back-to-back punts of 35 and 39 yards in the third quarter gave Oakland great field position to aid in their comeback effort. It certainly wasn’t the reason Buffalo lost, but it was part of the to the avalanche that came pouring down over the Bills in the second half.
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Tyrod at the half 7-13 110 yards
Carr at the half 9-17 112 yards
McCoy at the half 10 carries 50 yards
Gillislee punched in a second touchdown with 9:01 left in the third quarter to put the Bills in command 24-9, yet in typical Bills fashion three straight three-and-outs would follow. In those nine plays, they’d accumulate just three yards, while the Raiders ran circles around the defense for 172 yards and 21 unanswered points.