CAPACCIO: Bills-Buccaneers: Arrow Up/Arrow Down

October 23, 2017
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A fourth-quarter comeback win.  There haven’t been many of them by the Buffalo Bills over the past several years, but it happened Sunday.  Despite blowing an 11-point second half lead only to trail by seven, the Bills were able to come right back and score, create a turnover, then score again to win it.  Overall, it was an intense and exciting game.  And since the Bills came out on top, 30-27, I’ll start with the good:


ARROW UP
 

WR Deonte Thompson

The wideout was just signed last week after being released by the Chicago Bears.  All he did was catch four passes to lead all players with 107 receiving yards and come up with a few huge grabs the Bills desperately needed, including the longest play of the game - a 59-yard pass and catch from Tyrod Taylor on the first play after the Buccaneers took the lead in the fourth quarter.  Thompson also had receptions of 23 and 27 yards on the day.  It was just his second 100-yard performance of his 42-game career.


RB LeSean McCoy

Shady finally found the end zone for the first time this season.  And he got in twice, the second of which tied the game with just 2:28 left.  McCoy finished with a game-high 91-yards rushing and added five catches for 31 yards for a 122 yard afternoon.


QB Tyrod Taylor

Tyrod had a 300-yard day.  It wasn’t all through the air, but what he did with his arm and legs added up.  268 passing.  53 rushing.  321 total yards to go along with 20-for-33 passing.  Taylor did what many questioned his ability to do.  He brought his team back down late in the fourth quarter.  


LB Matt Milano

Milano came up with his first NFL interception.  He also had five total tackles, two for a loss, one QB hurry, and one pass breakup to go along with it.


K Stephen Hauschka

Yes, he missed a 41-yard field goal after a fumble recovery, but Hauschka made up for it with his 52-yarder later and his 30-yard field goal that effectively won the game at the end.  Hauscka’s 52-yard field goal tied an NFL record.  It was his twelfth consecutive make without a miss from 50 or more yards out.  He also kicked off seven times and each one of the seven went into the end zone and was not brought out, resulting in a touchback.


P Colton Schmidt

Schmidt only punted twice the whole day.  But he averaged over 50 yards on this two boots, and put one of them inside the Bucs 20-yard line.


Running game

It still wasn’t at the elite level the Bills want, but the running game was much better and effective Sunday, going for 173 yards and averaging 5.2 yards per run.  McCoy, Taylor, and Mike Tolbert all contributed.


Offensive line

Even with players going in and out due to either shuffling or injury, the group had a good game overall, opening up wholes in the run game mentioned above and allowing only one sack total.  In fact, Taylor had a lot of time to throw on most occasions.


3rd down offense

The Bills were really good on third down all afternoon, converting a terrific 10-of-16 (63%) on the day!


Penalties

The Bills were flagged a total of four times for only 35 yards.
 


ARROW DOWN



End of 1st half clock management

It was inexcusable.  Other than take a sack, the one thing the Bills could not do, they did.  Milano collected his interception with only :23 left in the half.  It gave the Bills the ball at the Buccaneers 26 yard line.  A nice catch and run by McCoy got the ball to the 18 and they elected to use their final time out.  So with only :11 left, that means the next play had to be a pass into the end zone, or at the very least, right to the sidelines.  They couldn’t run it or throw it to an area that could possible get a receiver tackled in the field of play.  But that’s exactly what Tyrod Taylor did, hitting Jordan Matthews on an arrow route running towards the sideline, but not nearly close enough.  CB Ronald McClain made a nice tackle and it was too late to get lined up again to spike the ball to set up a field goal.  It was a horrible sequence.


Wasting timeouts

This goes hand-in-hand with situation above.  The Bills had to use TWO time outs in the first half due to personnel/communication issues.  These are the things that shouldn’t be happening seven weeks into the season, and especially coming off a bye week.  If they didn’t have to do that (or even do it just once) they could have had another timeout near the end of half when they ran out of time.  The Bills also had to take a timeout after just five plays in the second half, but it was because Eric Wood lost one of his shoes and could not get it back on in time.


Passing defense

The Bills gave up 378 net yards passing to Jameis Winston and Tampa, the most given up by the Bills defense in over two years and the second most since week three of 2011.


Taking advantage of turnovers

The Bills took the ball away free times.  They only scored after one of them, despite taking over at their own 44 and the Bucs 26 on the two drives they failed to score (missed field goal and botched end of half sequence).  


3rd down defense

Tampa Bay converted 55% of their third downs, going 6-for-11.  The highest percentage they had allowed heading into this game was was 43.75% (vs. Panthers).

 

THE BIG PICTURE
 

The Bills made plenty of mistakes Sunday.  But they still won.  They had communication and personnel issues.  But they still won.   And that’s the bottom line.  Sometimes a team has to do that when they don’t have their best stuff.  The Bills didn’t have their best stuff Sunday, but they still won.  I thought they would take care of business against Tampa given many factors.  They did, but it wasn’t nearly the way I expected.  There were already concerns on the offensive side of the ball, and there are still, but that unit played a solid game and got things moving in the right direction, at least for a week.  But some concerns are starting to show up on the defensive side.  The passing yards and big plays given up over the past two games are alarming - over 300 yards passing given up in each of the past two games.  We saw communication breakdowns Sunday we hadn’t seen all year.  The botched end-of-half was something new from this coaching staff that will give people pause.  And all of this happened after having two weeks to get healthy, self-scout, and prepare.  So, there are plenty of things to clean up.  But even with all that said, the Bills still won.  That’s what good teams do.  They find a way to win even when things aren’t going great.  So now it’s time to look ahead.  They’re 4-2 and keeping pace with the heavy-hitters of the AFC, a half game behind the Patriots, Chiefs, and Steelers, who are all 5-2.  There’s a lot of football left, of course, but all this week I kept saying this four-game stretch provided plenty of opportunities for the Bills to get wins and put themselves in a great spot in November.  Well, one game down from those four and now the 3-4 Raiders come to town next Sunday.  They’ll have ten days to get ready and rest after playing Thursday night.  They have a terrific young QB in Derek Carr who no doubt has taken notice of the Bills’ passing game struggles on defense recently.  And they’re feeling great about themselves after beating the Chiefs on the last play of the game Thursday, 31-30.  It’ll be a big game for both teams.  For the Bills, a chance to go 5-2.  A chance to really start to think about the possibilities of where this season can go.  

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