So much for squish the fish.
Or stymie Miami.
Longtime AFC East rivals met on a 2010 opening day collision course. The excitement was back. The emotion, the juices were flowing again. It was a good day to have football back in our lives. If only someone reminded the Buffalo Bills offense that the season started today.
In their best Groundhog Day impression that Bill Murray could marvel at, the Bills juvenile, popgun offense was on full display shooting plenty of blanks in Sunday’s 15-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins. I sure didn’t miss this for the last nine months. Other than the fact that it finally wasn’t Dick Jauron, new head coach Chan Gailey’s debut didn’t fare much better.
The best two words that come to mind to describe this one are ugly and frustrating. Like a parrot that’s only been taught a few phrases, in typically Buffalo Bills fashion the defense did enough to come up with a victory and in return, the offense did more than enough to be a let down. How many times in the last 10 years has that been the case?
Given the signs of life we’ve seen in the preseason, maybe we were expecting to see the Bills translate it into the regular season. Yes it’s only one game, but there certainly seems to be some credibility to those dreary, doom and gloom marks given to the Bills and their forecast for this season. Trent Edwards was his usual, miserable self. Rookie C.J. Spiller barely made a footnote in his first ever NFL action, registering 14 total yards on 11 touches. Do I really have to mention the play at the offensive tackles? I think Cornell Green’s play makes Langston Walker look like Jonathan Ogden.
The really bad part in all of this, at least for me anyway, is that after so many years and so many letdowns and horrible outcomes this decade, you sort of get used to games and efforts like this. I’m not even sure the score really reflected the game. It never felt as if Miami was never in jeopardy of losing. Henne overthrew a wide open Brandon Marshall down the middle of the field in the first half that had six point written all over it. Miami’s defensive backs had the ball smack them right between the numbers on at least three occasions, but couldn’t hang on. Truth be told, it should’ve been a lot worse than 15-10.
The best way to describe the offensive numbers are embarrassing and it’s hard to tell the difference from a year ago. Buffalo managed only 166 yards of total offense. Miami had the football for over 13 more minutes in the game. The Bills were awful on third down, converting just 3-of-14 attempts. None of the three running backs totaled more than 20 yards rushing. Compared to Miami’s 19 first downs, Buffalo managed just nine first downs of their own. Sounds all too familiar doesn’t it?
Miami raced out to a 10-0 lead thanks to an early 32-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter in the first quarter, then Ronnie Brown’s 1-yard plunge capped off an 11-play, 65-yard drive early in the second quarter. Bills kicker Rian Lindell finally got the Bills on the board with a 51-yard field goal to cut Miami’s lead to 10-3. Lindell would miss a 63-yard attempt as time expired in the first half.
Buffalo had two golden opportunities early in the second half, the Bills’ ineptitude was on full display. Their first two possessions in the second half started at the Miami 49 & the Miami 48. Both resulted in punts after the Bills went three and out. Counting their first four second half possessions, the Bills gained minus 5 yards of offense. Buffalo didn’t commit their first penalty until the third quarter, but some key flags contributed to the Bills’ squandering great field possession.
With Miami leading 13-3 with 9:32 left in the game, we finally that all too teasing glimmer of hope. It’s almost as if when the game sees just about out of reach, that’s when the Bills do their best work. Buffalo used a quick, desperate tempo during an 11-play, 80 yard drive that ended with Edwards hooking up with Roscoe Parrish on fourth-and-10 for a 31-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 13-10. It was the first touchdown reception for Parrish since 2008.
The sequence of events that took place at the end of the game were in true cover-your-eyes Buffalo fashion. Miami punter Brandon Fields boomed a magnificent punt that was downed at the Bills’ 1-yard line with 2 minutes left in the game. Rather than punting from deep in their own endzone, Buffalo opted to take a safety on a fourth-and-10 from their own 1, giving Miami the lead at 15-10 with just over 90 seconds to play. The defense held off Miami and the Buffalo got the ball back for one last time with :29 seconds left in the game. Three incompletions and a curious 9-yard pass to David Nelson, and the game was over.
Maybe we expected a different team, a different result. Maybe we were expecting too much too soon. Regardless, the curtain has gone up on the 2010 season and the Bills are still putting on the same, sorry play.
Waiting in the wings next week for the Bills is a trip to Lambeau Field and a date with the Green Bay Packers.