It was pretty evident to anyone watching Saturday that the Buffalo Bills were the better team. Yet they are going home while the Houston Texans are advancing.
Why is that? Who is to blame?
Below I assign who is to blame and what percent role each played in the Bills loss.
The Defense: 5%
Three things stick out the most in assigning blame to the defense.
1. Houston’s 3rd and 18 conversion in overtime.
2. Siran Neal and Matt Milano’s missed sack that put Houston in field goal range in overtime.
3. Surrendering 19 second-half points.
If you were told before the game the Houston Texans would be held to 19 total points, surrender seven sacks, and turn the ball over once, my guess is you would feel fairly confident the Bills would prevail. Just because their worst moments happened late in the game doesn’t mean it is their fault we lost or deserve any real blame.
I assigned 5% of the blame because many in the Bills locker room feel confident they have an elite defense. They don’t. They have a great defense. An elite defense would have made the plays late that salvaged the victory.
NFL Officials: 10%
Four calls stick out when assigning blame to the officials calling the game;
1. The kickoff controversy
2. Uncalled delay of game on the 3rd & 18 play in OT
3. No helmet to helmet called on Zach Cunningham in OT
4. The Blindside block on Cody Ford in OT
We can debate these calls all day. Many believe some of these calls were correct. Others do not. Whether we agree or disagree, the Bills had every opportunity to put this game away well before the NFL Officials rulings came into play.
Sean McDermott: 25%
Brian Daboll: 25%
Sean McDermott’s philosophy was clear as day. With 30 seconds left in the first half, in plus territory and a time out in hand, the Bills trotted out three tight ends onto the field and ran the ball with Frank Gore up the middle. McDermott trusted his defense not to give up two touchdowns in the second half and was content kicking a field goal for a 13-0 lead.
I for one can get behind that philosophy. It is one that logically would have won us this game. The only problem with that is he failed to relay that message to his offensive coordinator.
This offense played a near-perfect first half. They were fairly balanced, sustained drives, got points on almost every drive, and. more importantly, kept the Houston Texans offense off the field. Then halftime happened.
I’m sure Brian Daboll drew up some good plays in the second half that his players failed in spots to execute. The only problem is he knew his offense’s track record in failing to execute plays in the passing game, yet he drew up a total of 46 passes in the game, 26 times in the second half. In this stage of Allen’s career, that was a recipe for disaster.
Singletary ran the ball 13 times in the game and only seven times in the second half. If you would have doubled that total the Bills probably would have won. Allen was relegated to far too many 3rd and longs, and the Bills, therefore, punted far too many times. This gave the Houston Texans offense an opportunity to make their comeback.
In overtime, the Bills had yet another opportunity to salvage a victory, and the offense spent their one and only drive in five wide receiver sets. One of those wide receivers was fullback Patrick DiMarco. Devin Singletary did not get a single overtime carry. These formations and the play calling in OT were baffling and quite frankly inexcusable.
Brian Daboll simply lost himself in the second half, and as our offensive identity dissolved, Sean McDermott let it all unfold in front of him without any opposition.
Offensive Execution: 35%
Every single thing I have referenced up to this point would have been lost in the ether if the offense executed properly.
If John Brown properly tip toes the sideline on a dime from Josh Allen, the Bills would have had a first and goal. Instead, they kicked a field goal. Duke Williams dropped another beautiful throw by Josh Allen in the end zone that would have resulted in another seven points. Both were difficult yet catchable balls, the type of execution that wins teams playoff games. If this game was 21-0 at halftime as opposed to 13-0, the game is over at the half.
The Texans scored 19 points in regulation. All the Bills needed was one touchdown in the second half, and they couldn’t do that either. Since the Dallas game, the Bills offense hasn’t scored 20 points. Look no further than the offensive execution if you want something to blame. The only reason it is not 100% to blame is that, miraculously, this team still had dozens of other ways to pull out this game and couldn’t find a way to get it done.