Bills Punt Away Season, Lose to Raiders 26-24

The Buffalo Bills said goodbye to the playoffs on Sunday.

On Sunday, the Buffalo Bills needed three things to happen. Buffalo needed the Pittsburgh Steelers to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, the Houston Texans to defeat the Baltimore Ravens and they themselves had to defeat the lowly Oakland Raiders.

In the famous words of Meatloaf, a Buffalo Bills fan, "Two outta three ain't bad." 

In truth, the one that didn't happen was very bad. Buffalo fell to the Oakland Raiders 26-24 on Sunday and eliminated themselves from Wild Card contention. The longest playoff drought in the NFL continues for one more year.

On Sunday, things started out well for the Bills. The defense forced a three and out and Buffalo responded with a touchdown. You couldn't ask for a much better start. It was the last appearance by the Bills offense in the first half until they put together a field goal drive to end the half.

The third quarter was more of the same for Buffalo who went without points. The Bills trailed 19-10 at the end of the third quarter but the fourth quarter started out well for the Bills. Kyle Orton connected with Scott Chandler on a 29 yard pass to bring the Bills within two. Unfortunately, the Bills punted away their season at that point. With 8:26 left in the fourth quarter, the Bills faced a 3rd and 1 from their own 46. The Bills technically needed to get one yard in two plays. The run game was non-existant on Sunday, but Orton should have been able to gain one yard on two quarterback sneaks, correct? Pehaps we'll never know. Buffalo ran a pass play that Ray Ray Armstrong sniffed out. What does Doug Marrone do on 4th and 1 with the game and playoffs slipping out of his grasp? He sent in punter Colton Schmidt. Schmidt wasn't having a great day punting and it continued with a kick that went out of bounds at Oakland's 20 yard line. Marrone didn't trust his offense to gain one yard. It was very telling.

Oakland's offense secured one first down before facing a 3rd and 22. Buffalo sat back on the play and allowed rookie Derek Carr to scramble and throw a 51 yard pass to Andre Holmes. Four plays later, the Raiders scored and extended their lead to 26-17. Buffalo scored a late touchdown to make things interesting, but failed to recover an onside kick. Unfortunately, it was the same Bills we've grown accustomed to seeing over the years. The Bills sputtered on both sides of the ball in a game they needed to win. Yes, the Bills lost their defensive MVP, Marcell Dareus, but on paper the Bills were better than the Raiders at just about every position. This was an inexcusable loss.

On Sunday, the Bills couldn't run the ball (13 yards on 13 carries). Latavius Murray on the otherhand evoked memories of Willie Parker. At quarterback, Orton proved once and for all that he wasn't much of an upgrade at quarterback. He hit a few big passes, but also made two poor throws for interceptions. For the most part, Orton dinked and dunked his way to 329 yards. He was outperformed by a rookie who started extremely slow on Sunday. Carr's final stat line won't blow you away (17/34, 214, 2 TD), but he made timely throws and didn't turn over the ball. 

Buffalo's defense certainly deserves their fair share of the blame as well. They struggled to get to Carr on Sunday and allowed the rookie to make crucial throws. The unit allowed Murray and Darren McFadden to run for 140 yards on 32 carries and gave up four plays of 25 yards or more. 

When the Bills needed a win the most, they failed. Forgive me if you're heard this before Bills fans... There's always next year.

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