The Buffalo Bills suffered a heart-breaking defeat in Toronto on Sunday when they fell to the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 34-31 in overtime. It was a game that the Bills needed and looked like they were going to win at several points near the end, but they just couldn’t get it done which all but crushes their playoff hopes.
The most infuriating thing for Bills fans is that they lost the game despite their rookie QB making the plays that he needed to make. After the Falcons scored a game-tying TD with about a minute and a half left to play, E.J. Manuel led the Bills down the field. He hit Stevie Johnson in the middle of the field to put the Bills in position for a game-winning field goal, but Johnson fumbled the ball away to the Falcons with 20 seconds left to play.
In overtime the Bills won the toss and took the ball again. Manuel had moved the Bills into Falcons’ territory on only the 2nd play of OT, but once again his receiver let him and the team down. TE Scott Chandler fumbled the ball away at the Falcons’ 40-yard line and it was recovered and returned by Atlanta into Buffalo territory. The Falcons set up the game-winning field goal from there and won the game.
The fumbles negates what would have been another great day for Manuel. He finished the game 18-of-32 for 210 yards and a TD. He didn’t throw an INT nor was he sacked. The icing on the cake would have been one of the two game-winning drives that he seemed poised to complete before the fumbles prematurely ended them.
On one hand you get the feeling that Manuel is not at all uncomfortable in these late-game pressure situations. On the other hand, despite that the Bills, as they have been prone to do over the past decade or so, still found a way to lose. Maybe a guy like Manuel is what they need to turn the ship around, but as Sunday’s game showed, becoming a winner depends on more than just a QB.