When the San Francisco 49ers came to Buffalo this afternoon one would have assumed that the match-up would be an easy one for the Bills. Not only are the 49ers a poor team based on their record, but they had to travel across the country to a cold weather location with not a whole lot to play for. In comparison the Bills had a great deal to play for as they are still alive for the playoffs and they were in front of the home town crowd.
The game started poorly for the Bills, as the 49ers marched down the field on their first drive, taking 8:09 off the clock. The final result of the drive was a 12 yard TD pass from Shaun Hill to Isaac Bruce. The rest of the quarter was uneventful, as the teams essentially exchanged punts.
In the 2nd quarter the Bills started on their own 13 and drove all the way to the San Francisco 2 yard line, but the drive stalled and ultimately concluded with a missed 20 yard FG by Rian Lindell. The rest of the quarter was uneventful until Marshwan Lynch fumbled in Bills territory, which allowed the 49ers to kick a 50 yard field goal. The Bills had very little time remaining to work with and did nothing with that time, even though they got the ball with decent field position.
One reason was they had burned the majority of their time-outs, much to the disgust of Bills fans who have grown weary of the team blowing time-outs week after week at inappropriate times. When all was said and done San Francisco took a 10-0 lead to the locker room, while the Bills were booed by the home crowd as they exited the field.
In the 3rd quarter J.P. Losman entered the game as apparently Trent Edwards suffered an injury to his groin. But even with the QB change it seemed the Bills would change the momentum as they drove down the field on their second drive of the quarter, with the key play being a 50 yard run by Marshawn Lynch. Unfortunately the drive stalled and they had to settle for a FG. Near the end of the quarter the 49ers drove deep into Bills territory, but a Frank Gore fumble gave the Bills the ball back.
The ensuing drive by the Bills carried into the 4th quarter, and the Bills drove all the way to the 49ers 7 yard line. At that point they were faced with a 4th and 2 after failing to convert on a 3rd and 1, and Dick Jauron made a very questionable decision to go for it even though they were down by just 7 with plenty of time left. What made the decision worse is they had to burn another time-out just to decide to go for it on 4th down. They attempted a pass play which they failed to convert, and the 49ers received the ball on downs.
On the next drive the Bills drove to the 49ers 22 yard line. This time Jauron chose to attempt the field goal, and Rian Lindell awarded the coaches faith in him by missing the 40 yard field goal. And that would be the last time the Bills had a look at a scoring opportunity.
In the end the Bills had 350 yards while the 49ers had just 195, but it didn’t matter as the Bills walked away the losers. And while they’re not mathematically eliminated, it’s all but a sure thing that the playoffs are a dream for the Bills.
Trent Edwards had another shaky afternoon, completing just 10 of 21 passes for 112 yards. Losman played the whole second half and completed 11 of 17 passes for 93 yards. While he drove the Bills down the field relatively well he showed his old ways by taking sacks at the worst times and by having poor pocket awareness. Marshawn Lynch had a very good effort that was wasted, as he had 134 yards on just 16 carries. What’s unfortunate is that the Bills coaches refused to recognize his dominance and gave him just 16 carries.
For the 49ers Shaun Hill passed for just 161 yards and Frank Gore rushed for just 66 yards so the Bills defense did their job, but as has been the case for years the Bills offense just cannot get out of their own way.
In the end the Bills are plagued by poor QB play, sloppy play all together, and terrible coaching. And in the end the Bills will enjoy the playoffs from their warm couches, while their fans dream of different ways to send them coal for the holidays.