The Buffalo Bills came out flatter than that bottle of Pepsi that's been sitting in your fridge for over a month, yet the Bills still had an opportunity to win Sunday's game. Instead, poor tackling, undisciplined penalties and some questionable penalty calls by the referees sunk Buffalo by a final score of 24-10.
The NY Giants also deserve some credit for the win, obviously, but Buffalo will look back at the film tomorrow and ask themselves, "What if?"
What if a questionable holding penalty on Kraig Urbik went uncalled on Tyrod Taylor's touchdown run? What if Nigel Bradham had tackled Rashad Jennings late in the game on third down after the team had pulled within one touchdown? What if a chop block call, that technically wasn't a chop block, on Richie Incognito went uncalled on Charles Clay's deep touchdown connection? And last, what if the Bills didn't implode defensively with undisciplined penalty after undisciplined penalty?
Those are just a few of the questions the Bills will be asking themselves as they prepare for their Week 5 contest against the Tennessee Titans, their third opponent in five weeks to be coming into the game with extra rest.
On Sunday, it was a first half to forget for Buffalo. Yet, the team came out in the second half and played more inspired football. In the second half, Buffalo finally started moving the ball with consistency. Unfortunately, Buffalo kept shooting themselves in the foot.
A 31-yard touchdown scramble by Taylor was nullified by a holding penalty on Urbik. Replay showed it wasn't much of a hold at all, but it was called nonetheless. The Bills were able to get the ball to the 12 yard line to set up a 30-yard field goal for Dan Carpenter, but the kicker missed the chip shot.
After a three and out, the Bills once again moved the ball down the field on the G-Men. The drive stalled at New York's one yard line after a Taylor run was stopped at the one yard line and a pass out to Karlos Williams was also stopped at the one. Buffalo's defense once again stepped up and forced a three and out. Finally, the Bills responded with a touchdown on a 23-yard pass from Taylor to Williams.
Suddenly, despite all of their poor play, the Bills found themselves within one score. Were the Giants going to give away a game for the third time this season? The door was certainly open for that possibility, but a missed tackle shut the door on a Bills comeback. On third and three from close to midfield, Manning dumped a pass off to Rashad Jennings. Linebacker Nigel Bradham seemed to have the route covered and a tackle would have brought Jennings down for no gain. Instead, Bradham missed the tackle and Jennings rumbled 51 yards for a touchdown. One two-point conversion later and the Giants were up 24-10.
On Buffalo's next series, Robert Woods caught a pass from Taylor and was held up by two Giants defenders. The argument that Woods was fighting for yards could be used but the two Giants defenders had the receiver held up for a significant amount of time. No whistle was blown and to the Giants' credit, they stripped Woods of the ball. What happened next was a defensive implosion.
Preston Brown was called for unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct in the drive. Jerry Hughes also took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for the Bills. The penalties allowed the Giants to run additional time off the clock and while Stephon Gilmore intercepted Manning, the chances of a comeback were slim as Buffalo was down two scores with less than four minutes to go in the game. The Bills almost made things interesting with a 32 yard touchdown pass to Charles Clay, but once again Buffalo was flagged. This time, Richie Incognito was called for a chop block. And yes, Bills fans, it wasn't really a chop block.https://twitter.com/MikePereira/status/650766952294576128 https://twitter.com/RossTuckerNFL/status/650766336008790016
Buffalo eventually turned the ball over on downs and game mercifully came to an end.
There were plenty of opportunities for the Bills on Sunday, but the Bills couldn't cash in with their opportunities and penalties once again haunted the team. The Bills finished the game with 17 penalties for 135 yards. It was another game in which the Bills finished with double digit penalties. Until the team figures out a way to keep their emotions in check and limit their penalties, their up-and-down play will continue.