Well, that was rough. It wasn’t just the fact that the Buffalo Bills lost, rather it was the heartbreaking way in which they managed to lose. Quite simply, the Bills beat themselves on Sunday afternoon, after convincingly outplaying the New England Patriots for three quarters.
The Bills were headed into the fourth quarter with a narrow lead, and had several opportunities to put the Patriots on ice and get the Doug Marrone/EJ Manuel era started off right. The energy inside Ralph Wilson stadium was electric, and the momentum belonged solely to Buffalo. Then, however, the Bills became the Bills once again. Stevie Johnson, who spent plenty of time earlier this week bragging about how there wasn’t a single Patriot who could cover him, dropped a perfectly catchable pass in open space that would have given the Bills a first down with just a few minutes left. There wasn’t a defender near him, and the Bills were forced to kick it away.
That play was a definitive turning point, and was thematically consistent with the Bills’ afternoon. After coming up with big stops all afternoon, the Bills’ defense was unable to slow down Tom Brady and his offense as they marched easily into field goal range and kicked their way to yet another victory in Orchard Park.
There were some positive signs for the Bills in this one, most notably the aggressive play by the new-look defense, but it’s hard to look past the fact that the they quite simply gave this one away. Manuel flashed signs of greatness, but also came very close to throwing two interceptions in the first half, and ultimately over threw Johnson on the deciding play of the game. In the end, it doesn’t matter that the Bills only lost by three points. They still lost and they’re still the Buffalo Bills.
Until the Bills can stop making the type of crucial mistakes that cost them their season opener, they will continue to struggle.