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Mistakes Hold the Bills Back

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Quarterback E.J. Manuel of the Buffalo Bills watches the action from the sideline during a game against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. on Nov. 17, 2013. Buffalo won 37-14. Photo by: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images.
Quarterback E.J. Manuel of the Buffalo Bills watches the action from the sideline during a game against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. on Nov. 17, 2013. Buffalo won 37-14. Photo by: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images.

The Buffalo Bills made mistake after mistake on the field this season, and that determined their current 4-7 record more than their accomplishments.

Buffalo had reasons for the mistakes – rookie players, rookie coaches, bad health, and severe injuries – but they occurred, nonetheless. When a team with these strikes against it plays a strong team, as Buffalo played the then-undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, the mistakes are magnified and point clearly to areas that must be shored up.

After the Chiefs beat the Bills 23-13, Buffalo Head Coach Doug Marrone acknowledged that the Bills had a rough game.

“Obviously, it hurts,” he said. “It hurts me, it hurts the guys in that room, I hurt for them, (and) I hurt for our fans. It’s tough. It’s a tough one… This one hurts. I’m not going to stand here and say we should’ve won the game because obviously we didn’t, but it hurt.”

Marrone’s summary of the Kansas City game exemplifies the team’s entire season.

“We went right down the field. (Running back) C.J. (Spiller) did a nice job, made a great run and we get down there and we don’t punch it in on goal line. We get a penalty on the pass play first, and then we don’t punch it in with a goal line formation.

He continued, “We go to the next formation; in the field, it was a play that was working for us well during the game…They were in all-out [pressure], in cover zero, and the guy comes off of [wide receiver] Stevie Johnson – just comes off of him and doesn’t cover him. [He] was standing right there when we’re throwing the ball in the slot.”

More mistakes followed in the Bills-Chiefs game.

“We wound up throwing a pick and, not only did we throw a pick, we threw a pick six, so the guy takes it all the way back. Then we have a fumble. We hit [wide receiver T.J. Graham] and [T.J.] drops the ball, and they take it and they wind up scoring, not even giving the defense a chance to get out there and play.”

Marrone described his dismay and confusion about the game on a level rarely expressed by NFL coaches.

“(Either) they knew exactly what we were doing, or it was just unbelievable. I haven’t seen a lot of that. I’ve seen it a couple times down the field.”

The Bills were floating pretty high after beating the New York Jets 37-14, and they may carry that momentum through for the rest of the season. Their rookie players now have some experience under their belts, and the coaches have spent 4 months working from the sidelines.

Player health has improved and some of their injuries have healed. At this late date, Buffalo is looking strong.

“I think when you’re healthy for a long period of time, that’s really an advantage,” Marrone said after the Bills’ bye week, “because [of] the continuity and everyone is playing together and everyone is getting a good feel for each other… To be sitting here now where we are from a health standpoint is a credit to the players…the trainers, the conditioning guys, the weight coaches… I’m excited because it’s the healthiest we’ve been.”

Buffalo’s problems are seemingly solved. If mistake-ridden plays continue in the future, Buffalo will have nothing left to blame.