The Buffalo Bills were mathematically eliminated from the 2014 NFL Playoffs following a devastating 26-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. In arguably the worst team performance of the season, the Bills weren’t able to gain an advantage in any of the three phases of the game.
Offensive Line Struggles
On offense, the Bills’ run game was stagnant, gaining 13 yards on 13 carries, due to embarrassing performances by guards Erik Pears and Kraig Urbik. The duo failed to generate any sort of forward movement at the line of scrimmage, which allowed the Raiders’ defenders to flow to the ball-carrier with ease.
Seantrel Henderson also had a rough game against Khalil Mack and Justin Tuck, surrendering two sacks and six total pressures.
While Henderson had a rough outing in pass protection, Pears and Urbik were responsible for several mishaps throughout the game.
Running back C.J. Spiller returned from a collarbone injury, so the team tried to get him involved with screens that would feature his elite speed and game-changing ability. In the following clip you can see that upon the snap, Seantrel Henderson is thrown to the ground. Erik Pears, who is supposed to pull out and get downfield to block for Spiller, trips over his teammate, leaving Spiller all alone near the sideline without any help.
Kyle Orton was rushed into too many throws due to his offensive line’s inability to anchor against a subpar defensive line. Here, Erik Pears is driven into Orton’s face by Raiders’ defensive tackle C.J. Wilson. Young Wideouts Continue To Make Plays
Kyle Orton completed over 65-percent of his passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns with the help of his young supporting cast in Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods. Yesterday, the duo become the first pair of wide receivers under 23-years of age to catch 60 passes on the same team.
Watkins showed off his lethal deep speed in the first quarter as he beat his man and gained separation instantly. Orton delivered a strike and Watkins was able to pluck it out of the air for a 42-yard score that gave the Bills the lead.
Woods, who had already caught six passes in the game, made a huge play late in the fourth quarter. With the Bills trailing 26-17 with just over a minute remaining in the game, Woods made a fantastic play to score a 30-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to two points. After the snap, Oakland’s coverage was strong and the play broke down. Orton pointed right, signaling Woods to cross the field, before delivering a beautiful touchdown pass.
Marcell Dareus’ Price Tag Got Higher
The Bills have fielded one of the most stout run defenses in the National Football League, with nose tackle Marcell Dareus being the man that spins the wheel. Dareus is arguably one of the five best defensive players in the league and when he left the game with a knee injury, Buffalo couldn’t adequately replace him.
Prior to Dareus’ injury, the Raiders gained five yards on six carries. During his absence, Oakland picked up 135 yards on 30 carries, including six that went for at least 10 yards and two that went for 25 yards. The extreme drop off in execution when Dareus went down just goes to show how valuable he is to the team. Recap
While the Bills won’t make the playoffs this season, it’s impossible to say that the team isn’t moving in the right direction. The team will finish at, or above .500 for the first time since 2004, which is a major step for a franchise that has lacked respect throughout the league. The team fields one of the best defenses in the league and there are young quality pieces on the offensive side of the ball. Furthermore, the team now has a hands-on owner that has already shown that he’s committed to bringing success to the city of Buffalo.
The 2014 season was a rocky one, but let’s not forget that getting to the eight win mark is an important milestone in the Bills’ turnaround.