Immediate Reactions: Titans 35, Bills 34

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– I don’t think anyone’s going to tell you to forget the names Aaron Murray or Matt Barkley after Sunday’s win, but for the first time this season Bills fans mostly saw what Ryan Fitzpatrick is capable of doing in T. Chandler Gailey’s passing game.

Of course, that’s with the exception of his horribly-timed and under-thrown interception with 2:57 to play and the final drive of the game (where Fitz was able to do little other than complete tiny dump-offs). Ruminate on this one for two weeks, Bills fans, and you’re going to chomp your cud clear off.

Still, Fitzpatrick was accurate and timely despite working behind a patchwork-at-best offensive line. On a gust-filled day he was able to pick-and-choose when to go more than a few yards past the line of scrimmage. He “managed the game” (and yes, I hate using that phrase).

– Justin Rogers and George Wilson were victimized on the game-winning touchdown and Wilson especially is struggling this season. He also biffed a major opportunity to ice the game when a would-be interception with 1:52 to play hit him right in the gut. Ouch. It’s easy to see why the Senator sat despondent and dejected, facing his locker, for nearly 10 minutes before facing his mistakes in the media (which he did honestly and candidly, as we’ve come to expect).

You never want to rule out a guy who has overcome a ton of obstacles in his career, but the 31 year old safety is facing another career crossroads.

– On one hand you want to give credit to Chan Gailey for managing a close game better, but it sure seemed challenge-worthy when Jairus Byrd made fumble magic and the ball appeared to be recovered in-bounds. If you get the ball back, game over. If you don’t, you lose a time-out in a game you hope you make another defensive play, making said time-out moot.

– Spiller’s growth was neatly summed up on a six-yard run in the second half as the previously “too fast to the hole” back played an extremely patient role in waiting for a lane to open up.

– Fred Jackson had a strong game but his boneheaded refusal to go out-of-bounds with :08 to go in the first half was mind-boggling. Come on, man, you’ve been in the league for a while now. Know the clock!

– The vitriol against Fitzpatrick was bordering on the extreme in the world of Twitter. With 7:52 to go in the third quarter, after Fitz connected with Donald Jones for a 15 yard TD strike, the embattled Bills quarterback was 19-of-23 for 169 yards and two scores. Yet after Titans touchdowns, tweets like “Fitztragic” and “Anyone else at QB” were circulating. It’s a hilarious world, this one where blame is heaped at one man’s feet.

– Chris Hairston got turnstyled by Kamerion “American Ninja” Wimbley for a sack that caused Ryan Fitzpatrick to fumble. I briefly assumed it was Erik Pears who was torched, since both tackles played poorly. Pears also took a ridiculous unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

– Jones’ touchdown celebration of the “Tonto” dance is to be verbally high-fived. Now he needs to break out “The Carlton.”

– How cute in a sport that pretends it gives a crap about its players and head health that Al Afalava goes helmet-first into Fred Jackson, who is being tackled by two other players, with nary a talking-to from the referee. Somewhat poetic justice that Afalava goes for a similar killshot on Spiller during the next play and bounces off the Buffalo back.

– Shawn Powell didn’t punt until the fourth quarter, but when he did it was memorably poor. It traveled 22 yards and the marking may have been generous. The ball appear to jump sideways off his foot and head for the glass windows of the press box in 3D style (Yes, I know life is 3D. Give me some language wiggle room here).

– Bryan Scott’s break-up of a pass to Jared Cook with four minutes to go in the game may go unnoticed in the great scheme of things, but it’s a key moment and one of the only time making a safety beef up to play linebacker works out. Scott’s coverage skills as a safety certainly helped the pivotal play. On the Titans final drive, they faced a 3rd-and-10 where Scott wrestled Nate Washington to the turf for only a 2 yard game. It worked.

– Aaron Williams is having such a bad season that it almost feels unfair to point it out (being so obvious and all). He’s reminding me of 2011 Leodis McKelvin or, worse, Chris Watson. There’s a comparison I hoped to never ever ever ever ever make.

Stat line I liked…

CJ Spiller & Fred Jackson, each over 100 all-purpose yards

– Perhaps now both players are back near 100 percent and the Bills can resume their offensive game plan for the season.

Stat line I didn’t like…

Chris Johnson, 18 carries, 3000 yards, 22 TDs

– Holy moly! Where have all the linebackers gone? Nigel Bradham is promising but young and the rest are doing a phenomenal job of showing the league how glaring of a hole the Bills have at the position.

Game ball(s)…

Spiller

Lastly…

– Unfortunately, that was everything the Bills have given their fans over the past few years. It was an opportunity to put a team in their playoff quest’s rearview mirror and they failed. It was a chance to win another home game and head to the bye week above .500. They failed. First, the defense, then the rest. Failure.

Next week…

– Bye week.

Email: nick@fcbuffalo.org

11 Responses to Immediate Reactions: Titans 35, Bills 34

  1. A.P. says:

    Final two drives nullify everything Fitz did earlier in the game. Underthrows receivers, refuses to throw the ball away out of bounds when in trouble, and resorts to these garbage screen passes in traffic. Gailey has approached Dick Jauron’s level of “coaching to lose” when it comes to running out the clock. Utter incompetence

  2. Bills apologist says:

    What is Fitzpatrick’s record as a starter? ***drops mic*** walks off stage.

  3. Leelee Phoenix says:

    Fitz threw a bunch of dump passes and didn’t miss most easy throws today against a horrible defense. He did his job today, but you’re still not making a deep playoff run with him.

    And Gailey did not manage the game well. You go for two after the 33-28 TD at the end of the 3rd quarter. Fittingly cost him the game.

    The Bills’ defense has suffered no significant injuries, and it’s this bad. Worst coaching in the league. Embarrassing.

  4. Andre Govan says:

    Ryan is a bum …4 rookie quarterbacks is doing better then his ass this year ….Somebody Please bench him SAVE the bills season PLEASE

  5. R. C. says:

    What was supposed to be the best defensive four in the league have yet to appear. This is the worst defense in the league. If you score 34 points you should be able to win any game. Either the players are grossly overrated or the coaching is grossly inept. If this keeps up much longer, the fan base will disappear.

  6. Mark M says:

    The announcers on the Jets game just said all turnovers are reviewed, I did not see much of the 2nd half, but you mentioned the Byrd fumble recovery, why would the Bills have challanged shouldn’t it have been reviewed?

  7. Leelee Phoenix says:

    The ball was ruled out of bounds, thus no turnover. And the ball was out of bounds. And Byrd would have been called for illegal batting if it wasn’t called out of bounds, anyway.

    • Mark M says:

      Thank you Leelee!

    • Nick says:

      I haven’t dug through the minutia of this silly game’s rule book, but as with receptions, I believe it’s when the ball touches not the plane of the white line. thus it’s in-bounds unless the player is touching the ball whilst touching out-of-bounds. It really is a goofy game.

  8. Mike says:

    The “Ralph is cheap” meme gets overplayed as we saw last offseason, but Ralph has always been cheap/meddling in the one area it matters most – coaching/GMing. He lucked into Levy, who was a Jauron/Gailey retread himself before coaching the Bills. Lightning in a bottle. Almost anybody worth a damn whose had anything to do with this franchise on that end has been alienated. Not a shock then that the GM is an aging scout whose never been a GM before but is old enough for Wilson to relate to on a football level, the head coach is a so-so ACC coach with something to prove regarding the NFL, and ditto for the defensive coordinator only substituting the Big East (!) for the ACC.
    No I don’t know who else the Bills should hire. We can talk about coaching trees etc. but it’s really hard to find a competent head coach. The game has become more cerebral than it ever was and Buddy and Chan don’t exactly scream “cerebral” to me as much as they seem like two men discussing barbecue at the local Piggly Wiggly. I get the sense that Ralph is either extremely threatened by that type of Football mind or just wants nothing to do with today’s NFL. Towards the end of the Watergate saga, Nixon would just sit in the White House and watch “Victory at Sea” on repeat. I envision Ralph similarly – watching old AFL games from the sixties in the dark. Alone. With Ralph at the helm, there’s no reason for a competent coach to want to come to Buffalo if they care remotely about their career. He will not put you in a position to succeed. If that changes somehow the Bills will have a chance (if they’re still in Buffalo). Otherwise, we’re just wasting time year after year after year.

  9. ST says:

    Sigh.

    Another grotesque masterpiece dimly painted in Orchard Park, while the audience simply cannot afford its cost.

    -30-