– Matt Haring
A crucial game on the 2015 schedule ended in yet another disappointing result for the Buffalo Bills. Statistically, the Bills could have gone a long way in helping their chances at a playoff spot had they gone into Kansas City and left with a win. It didn’t go that way, as we all know, and now the Bills find themselves in a precarious position on the outside of the AFC playoff picture. A game that left fans scratching their heads will go down as one of the most memorable losses in a while, which is saying something. As opposed to the usual level-headed perspective, I’ll be taking the view of a fan for this week’s review.
One thing became blatantly obvious to me on Sunday and it is that I have had the blinds on my eyes for the last 11 months in regards to Rex Ryan. We all knew what Rex Ryan was. We had seen it before our eyes in his tenure with the New York Jets. A coach that the players love to play for, with historically good defenses, and historically bad offenses. The offense is better than the ones he oversaw in New York, while the defense is not quite as good. The Rex Ryan era is not off to a roaring start, relative to the preseason expectations, and it has left fans shaking their head.
I do not think it is fair to make judgements on anyone, player or coach, based on one game. If this were an isolated circumstance I would not be so inclined to worry. And to be fair, Rex had been 5/6 in his uses of coach’s challenges this year. The two plays where Ryan neglected to challenge have been well documented by now. The deep shot to Maclin where the ball hit the ground, and the mind-numbing ‘incomplete’ pass to Chris Hogan with 2:07 left.
The Maclin reception, or lack thereof, would wind up costing the Bills 7 points. That’s as simple as I can make it. Sure, maybe the Chiefs manage to score anyway. But the point is that for some incomprehensible reason nobody could tell Big Rex to get the challenge flag out of his pocket.
Fast forwarding to the end of the game, my head is spinning for the 3rd year in a row playing the Chiefs. At this point I don’t even think I was capable of thinking rationally. The Chiefs, man. Somehow, someway, they find a way to kill me and turn me into an (overrated) Kansas City barbecue dish every single year. It’s pure insanity at this point. When Tyrod Taylor hit Chris Hogan over the middle on a 2nd and 10 with 2:07 left, I had a faint sense of optimism left my body as we went to the two-minute warning. Until the halfwit referee came in 5 seconds after the play to signal an incomplete pass. Astounding, isn’t it? I guess the larger point here is that the NFL’s rules and the clowns enforcing them need a complete overhaul, but I digress. With about 60 seconds and 15 replay angles, nobody could manage to let Rex know that Chris Hogan took four steps, made a ham sandwich, called his grandparents to wish them a belated Happy Thanksgiving, made a football moved, was tackled, and THEN the ball came loose. If this play happens with 13:45 to go in the 3rd quarter, fine. But with 2:07 on the clock, down eight points, moving the ball, it is ludicrous that the play was not challenged. The red flag was sitting Rex’s pocket was valid for 7 (seven, siete, sept, sieben, 七, セブン) more seconds! You never know, though. Perhaps a blizzard could have blown over the outskirts of Kansas City, leaving Tyrod Taylor to reenact the famous Tuck Rule play. Then we would have a challenge in our pocket to challenge. All the jokes tonight. In all seriousness, it really is inexcusable for Rex not to challenge that play. It’s unconscionable because of the circumstances the Bills were in, and also because he had the ability to challenge it for one more play.
Outside of Rex, the defense took a step back from their Monday Night domination. The Bills two best players thus far, Darby and Gilmore both struggled throughout portions of the game. The run defense was suspect, as well. Injuries are not excuses, they are reality. With Kyle Williams, Mario Williams, Alex Carrington and Nigel Bradham out in the front-7, stopping a good rushing team such the Chiefs can be difficult. Unfortunately, we saw them break down as the game went along. Offensively, it was a brilliant first half. Sammy Watkins was a man on a mission, and it’s encouraging to see Tyrod taking shots down the field, trusting his receiver to make the play.
5 weeks ago we all would have laughed the Texans off as a chalk win at home. My, how things changed. All of a sudden, the struggling Texans defense has turned into the league’s best, allowing 3 TD’s in 16 quarters. Brian Hoyer is…playing well actually. This is in large part to the dominance of Deandre Hopkins at the wide receiver position. Gilmore presumably will be blessed with the task of containing Hopkins, which will not be an easy task by any means. The Bills need to take care of business at home, and get some help in order to get back into the playoff race. Even if everything falls the Bills way this upcoming week, they will not find themselves in a playoff spot. However, they can put themselves in a much better position with a win.