By Ch2 Sports Director Ed Kilgore
Come on, this just isn't funny anymore. It was easier, honest-to-gosh, when the Bills were getting blown out, than allowing even a casual emotional investment to again be smashed like a bug on the windshield at the end.
For the second week in a row, the Bills did enough good things on the road against a winning team to win. For the second week in a row, they also made enough mistakes to remain the NFL's only winless team at 0-7.
We do continue to learn more about the Bills, though, even in defeat. For one thing, even though the Chiefs are not one of the NFL's top offensive teams, the Bills defense did finally break the streak of 5 straight games allowing 34 or more points. They allowed only one touchdown in the eventual 13-10 overtime loss at Arrowhead, but there were two huge trends they didn't buck once again.
They couldn't stop - or even slow down - the KC running game. The Chiefs did come into the game as the NFL's top rushing team, and they padded their stats with a whopping 274 yards on the ground against the Bills and their 32nd ranked 'd' against the run. The Bills also, amazingly, did not force a single turnover. It's hard to even imagine the Bills secondary still doesn't have an interception, and the 'd' has just one pick in 7 games. Given that fact alone, it's remarkable, really, the Bills were able to force overtime.
Another thing we saw more clearly, was that while we love Ryan Fitzpatrick's courage, he is clearly not the Bills qb of the even near future past this season. Fitzpatrick did face more pressure this week than he did against the Ravens, in part because young right tackle Cordero Howard simply couldn't handle the Chief's Tamba Hali, a linebacker who often lined up over Howard. Hali was credited with a sack and a half, but he disrupted several other plays by forcing Fitzpatrick out of the pocket. Howard is not an NFL tackle, period. Cordell Green may not be elite, but the Bills are actually better with him healthy and back in there.
But back to Fitzpatrick. It's probably because he is so much more fun to watch than Trent Edwards that we've started thinking of "Fitz" as a guy the Bills might be able to live with while they rebuild the rest of the team - especially the defense.
But Fitzpatrick, who made many good throws and showed his grittiness again with some scrambles for yardage, couldn't close the deal when he had the chance. Twice. On one key play late the ball slipped as he threw it and that resulted in his only interception of the day, but it happened to be on the most important play of the game to that point.
Give Fitzpatrick credit for directing an 83-yard, 15 play 4th quarter drive that consumed over 7 minutes and ended with his 4th down four yard td pass to Steve Johnson with just over 2 minutes left in regulation.
But in the overtime, on a perfectly designed play from coach Chan Gailey, Fitzpatrick had C.J. Spiller in a dream matchup against a linebacker, and missed the wide open Spiller for a touchdown that would have ended the game. You simply HAVE to hit that throw.
We probably wouldn't be talking about some of this had Rian Lindell made the 53-yard field goal in overtime, although Lindell did make the first attempt that was whistled dead because Chiefs coach Todd Haley called timeout - which reminds me they need to do something about that ridiculous trend of late to's that are designed to 'ice' kickers - and then hit the right upright on his second attempt.
It remains to be seen how this season plays out of course, but the Bills are no longer unwatchable, as they were earlier this season. There are signs that Gailey and his staff - the defensive staff the notable exception - know what they're doing. We won't know for awhile if gm Buddy Nix has a handle on personnel, but he could hardly be worse than the last few groups through Orchard Park.
Summing up the many thoughts here; forget the thought the Bills might be able to draft an impact defensive player next April, 'cause assuming they are in the hunt for a top 2 or 3 pick, they need a franchise qb first and foremost.
Fitzpatrick might be the perfect veteran qb to play while the rookie learns, but Fitzpatrick is even more perfect as his backup once he begins to play.