NFL Wire News

Bills bitterly tease fan base again as streak hits 15

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The streak lives. It’s now 15 years and counting since the Bills last advanced to the playoffs as their unconscionable 26-24 loss to the lowly Oakland Raiders on Sunday officially eliminated them from postseason contention.

The Bills have tortured their fans for years with losses that defy explanation, and this one jumps very close to the top of the list given what was at stake. With the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens losing earlier Sunday, the Bills were guaranteed of being alive for a wild-card berth when they traveled to arch-nemesis New England in Week 17. All they had to do was defeat the 2-12 Raiders, who were every bit as bad as their record indicated.

And they failed.

The offensive line was embarrassed by the Raiders’ front seven as the Bills managed just 13 rushing yards, the fourth-lowest total in their history and worst since 1997. With the line unable to block anyone, the offense was paralyzed as not only was the run game ineffective, but quarterback Kyle Orton was under pressure all day and barely able to function.

“At the end of the day they got after us up front and kicked our butt,” a clearly perturbed coach Doug Marrone said. “When you do that, it’s difficult to run, pass, do a lot of things, and we weren’t able to do a lot of things because of that. I just didn’t think we’d play as poorly as we did up front. It’s tough to evaluate anyone who was carrying the ball (Sunday). There were guys in the backfield penetrating and we really didn’t have that much. Disappointed. Majorly disappointed.”

The Bills have a huge void to fill at quarterback because it’s clear Orton isn’t the answer to the decade-plus black hole at that position. But the offensive line is inept, and if quarterback is priority 1A in the offseason, then the line is 1B. Both guards need to be replaced, and rookie right tackle Seantrel Henderson has a long way to go before he becomes a polished, reliable player. Even the supposed competent players, left tackle Cordy Glenn and center Eric Wood, haven’t been all that good this year. As for depth, if the Bills had any, they’d be playing.

Marrone is an ex-offensive lineman, and he takes the play of the line to heart. That’s the unit he spends the most time with in practice, and their performance is a direct reflection on him. For him to call out that group the way he did in Oakland was telling, but it was also justified. The Bills’ offense has sputtered all year, and the weak links up front are one of the keys to the struggles.

Now that the game against New England means nothing, it might be wise for Marrone to give rookie second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio a chance. He hasn’t played all year, which is a tremendous disappointment for a player who was viewed as someone who could start immediately at right tackle. Instead, he has been taking most of his practice reps at guard, so why not let him play for right guard Erik Pears, who should not be back in 2015? Can Kouandjio really be any worse for the Bills?

REPORT CARD VS. RAIDERS

PASSING OFFENSE: D — Don’t be fooled by Kyle Orton’s 329 passing yards and three touchdowns; the 10-year veteran was outplayed by Oakland rookie Derek Carr. Orton threw two brutal interceptions, and he misfired frequently in another game where his seemingly impressive statistics were meaningless. Sammy Watkins, Scott Chandler and Robert Woods caught touchdown passes, but the offensive line was atrocious. Orton was only sacked twice, but he was pressured too many times to count.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F — Against the 25th-ranked run defense in the NFL, the Bills totaled 13 yards on 13 attempts, their lowest output since 1997, and the fourth-lowest in team history. It was appalling, and most of the blame could be placed on the offensive line that was overwhelmed by the Raiders’ front seven. C.J. Spiller was back after a seven-week layoff and looked exactly how he looked before he broke his collarbone; incapable of making anything happen. He had minus-four yards on four carries. The top three tacklers were defensive backs. Mind-boggling.

PASS DEFENSE: D — The Bills’ much-praised defense did not show up. Carr was sacked only once, and he did not throw an interception. What he did do was complete two passes of 50 and 51 yards, both of which were humongous plays that set up both of Oakland’s touchdowns. The 51-yarder to Andre Holmes with five minutes left came on a third-and-22 play as the team’s most experienced defensive back, Corey Graham, blew the coverage.

RUSH DEFENSE: D — The Raiders entered the game as the worst running team in the NFL, and they gashed the Bills for 140 yards, including 86 by Latavius Murray. Murray and Darren McFadden each broke a 25-yard run, McFadden’s coming late in the game to set up the clinching touchdown. Losing DT Marcell Dareus hurt as the Raiders were able to work between the tackles, but that can’t be an excuse, not when you’re playing the worst rushing team in the league in a game you have to win.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C — Punter Colton Schmidt had three punts that were terrible and they cost the Bills in field position. Return man Marcus Thigpen averaged a respectable 21.7 yards on kickoff returns, and Dan Carpenter made a 54-yard field goal. However, the Bills failed to recover the critical onside kick at the end of the game. The coverage units did their usual solid job.

COACHING: F — Doug Marrone perhaps saved his job last week with the win against Green Bay, but he has to take a major hit for the way his team responded against a terrible Oakland team in a must-win situation. Jim Schwartz’s defense allowed the NFL’s worst offense to score 26 points on 347 yards. As for the offense, Nathaniel Hackett was uninspiring as usual, though it was impossible to overcome the play of his offensive line and quarterback.


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