Buffalo Bills vs Atlanta Falcons: What We Learned

By Ryan Womeldorf
Chandler Fumble
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

That one hurt.

The Buffalo Bills entered Sunday’s contest against the Atlanta Falcons with playoff hopes in their head, and left Toronto with those heads slumping.

Playoffs hopes all but dashed — there’s only next year to play for. The team can either tank and get a better draft pick, or hope to win and build momentum for next year. The best they can achieve at this point is 8-8, and that’s unlikely at this point.

There’s a few things we need to cover, so let’s get right into what we learned from Sunday’s overtime loss to the Falcons.

Fumbles Are Costly. Who Knew?

The Bills had several chances to win this game, and decided to lose it in the most Buffalo way possible. It’s not a Buffalo sporting event if we’re not getting blown out or losing in a terrible way.

First, Stevie Johnson caught a ball that would have put the Bills well within field goal range at the end of regulation, only to fumble immediately after bringing the pass in. That was bad enough, as the Bills likely could have won the game right there with a last-second field goal.

But that wasn’t it, because this wouldn’t be a Buffalo sports game if that’s where it ended. No, the Bills get the ball first in overtime and basically the same scenario plays out, except Scott Chandler is the fumbler. The Falcons return it into Buffalo territory, kick the field goal, and end the Bills’ season.

One of them is excusable. Fumbles happen in games no matter who you are, but did it have to happen that way? This is a young team who probably wasn’t making the playoffs anyway, but to lose in such a junk-punch manner hurts.

Toronto No More

Can we stop sending the Bills to Toronto, please? They’re something like 1-6 in their last seven trips across the border, and this one might have been the topper. What is it with going across the border that makes the Bills especially inept?

I know there are Alabama fans right now who would punch me in the face for complaining about how the Bills’ game ended, but it still sucks that your usually-sucky team has a chance at something only to see it literally fumbled away.

Hopefully, this is one of those situations where the young team learns from it, puts it in the back of their mind, and uses it to propel themselves to success in the future. But the way Buffalo sports works is that they’ll likely do something similar in a bigger spot in the future. I can’t wait.

Offensive Efficiency

If you take away the fumbles, the Bills had a very good day on offense. While they were out-passed (272-210), they also threw the ball 15 fewer times and had a higher yard-per-pass average (6.6 – 5.8) on the day. E.J. Manuel looks confident and throws a good deep ball; he just needs to continue his development and he can be a really dangerous quarterback.

Not only that, but the Bills had 195 yards on the ground (6.3 yards-per-rush). Fred Jackson was his usual grind-it-out self, picking up 42 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. He was also effective catching the ball, racking up another 36 yards and a touchdown on four receptions.

The really encouraging thing, however, was C.J. Spiller. He’d been struggling the last few weeks and finally had a huge day, rushing for 149 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries (9.9 ypc), including a long of 77.  The Bills have needed more out of Spiller, and hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

More likely, it’s an aberration in the middle of more slumping. We know how the Buffalo way of things is.

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