NFL Wire News

Bills embarrassed by penalties


The Sports Xchange

ORCHARD PARK, N. Y. – Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan can praise his team for its competitiveness and its never-ending desire to fight all he wants, but he needs to get a grip on the team because it is out of control and in danger of blowing up the season.

One week after a near flawless victory at Miami, the Bills could not have been more flawed in their 24-10 loss to the New York Giants. The Bills were penalized 17 times for 135 yards, giving New York seven first downs via penalty.

Further, penalties wiped out two Buffalo touchdowns in the second half and another penalty in the second quarter allowed the Giants to take a field goal off the board and score a touchdown instead. That’s a difference of 18 points which would have turned defeat into victory.

“I’m proud of the way this team played,” Ryan said, pounding the lectern for effect. “Now, can we play a lot smarter? Absolutely. But I’ll take a team that will fight over a team that won’t, that’ll sit back and take it, any day of the week, and bring on the next team. So that’s how I look at it. Give me a team that’s got some fight and will compete ’til the very end.”

Some players insinuated that the Giants provoked the Bills into some of those calls, and that the officials are now watching the Bills closely because they have forged a reputation. The Bills are the most penalized team in the NFL. They have largely deserved it and it’s a big reason why they lost to the Patriots and Giants. In those two games, both at home, they had a combined 31 penalties for 275 yards.

“You have to just be able to walk away,” said defensive tackle Kyle Williams. “I think the bad thing is that the reputation is out. There’s different things, whether it be from the other team knowing, so they can goad you into a couple things, and you have to be able to move away from that, and the officials are looking for certain things. So we have to be choirboys.”

Safety Corey Graham agreed, but said it can’t be an excuse.

“I mean, it’s embarrassing,” Graham said. “It’s embarrassing to go out there and get all those penalties. I mean, it’s one after another. Dumb penalties, situations you just have to shut up sometimes. Let’s not sit here and act like it doesn’t factor in. I mean, if it’s close, they’re going to throw the flag on us. As players, you have to know that you can’t be borderline.”

There were many other problems in this game beyond the penalties. The Bills’ offensive game plan was tepid at best and it was clear the absences of running back LeSean McCoy and receiver Sammy Watkins had a huge impact. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor made a few poor decisions, the Bills did not run the ball with any effectiveness, and they were 3-for-16 on third-down conversions.

On defense, there was no pass rush (though that was mainly because Eli Manning was getting rid of the ball in two seconds or less), they were not sturdy against the run, and on the biggest possession of the game, the defense failed to get a stop and allowed a terrible touchdown as Giants’ running back Rashad Jennings broke three tackles during a 51-yard catch and run.

“Obviously, we’ve got to do a much better job on both sides of the ball and again, we’ve got to get back to work because it won’t get any easier,” said Ryan. “I’m not changing anything, but I’m going to change the results and that’s what I’m looking to do.”


–PASSING OFFENSE: D. Tyrod Taylor had only 36 yards passing in the first half when the Bills fell behind 16-3. Taylor was given a game plan that focused on short throws, and the Giants had answers for almost everything with Buffalo playing without Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy. Taylor utilized TE Charles Clay well as Clay had nine catches for 111 yards, plus he had a 32-yard TD wiped out by a penalty. Percy Harvin did not adjust well to the extra attention he received with Watkins out. He caught only three passes for 26 yards.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: D-minus. The offensive line could not get any push against the Giants’ front seven or eight, which they saw plenty of. The Giants loaded up the box and the Bills finished with just 55 yards rushing, including only 40 on 18 carries by Karlos Williams. The Bills picked up only two first downs via the rush.

–PASS DEFENSE: C-plus. The Bills actually did a tremendous job on Odell Beckham Jr. who wasn’t even a factor (five catches, 38 yards). Eli Manning threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns, but the biggest one was just a little flare to RB Rashad Jennings that resulted in a game-breaking 51-yard touchdown on third down. LB Nigel Bradham should have had Jennings stopped behind the line to force a punt, but he whiffed on the tackle, and Jennings then broke two more tackles on the way to the end zone. CB Ronald Darby had three more pass breakups.

–RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus. The Giants finished with only 92 yards, but it sure seemed like more because two-thirds of that came in the first half when they were effective on the ground on the way to 16 points. The Bills were not stout up front as they were gashed between the tackles. SS Corey Graham had 13 tackles because several came on running plays. LB Preston Brown had 11 tackles, plus two unsportsmanlike penalties.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: D. It was another poor day for Buffalo’s suddenly lame kicking teams. K Dan Carpenter missed a 30-yard field goal, and the kickoff coverage team allowed Shane Vereen a big return after he had fumbled early in the fourth, a huge play in the game that started New York on its way to the clinching touchdown. There were three more penalties which has been a season-long issue. Punter Colton Schmidt had a nice game with a 49.3 net average on seven punts.

–COACHING: F. Rex Ryan praised his team for its competitiveness, an apparent attempt to mask how ridiculously undisciplined the Bills have been this season. They took 17 penalties, including four mindless personal fouls. In their two losses, they have committed 31 penalties for 275 yards. That’s partially on coaching. Greg Roman’s offensive plan was flawed from the start. And on defense, the Bills have not been able to figure out how to get a pass rush against quarterbacks who are getting rid of the ball quickly, as both Eli Manning and Tom Brady did with ease.

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