Bills vs. Saints: Takeaways from Buffalo's 35-17 Loss to New Orleans
The Buffalo Bills suffered their worst loss of the season when they were beaten by New Orleans, 35-17. Both teams started off slow and made a number of mistakes, but New Orleans was able to regroup and finished the game strong. Buffalo looked outmatched for most of the game and while the Bills tried their best to hang around, the better team won in the end.
The Bills will have to regroup quickly as they head home to face the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs at Ralph Wilson Stadium next Sunday. These are the five biggest takeaways from the Bills' loss to the Saints.
The Bills Beat Themselves
When a team is going up against the New Orleans Saints they can't help them win by making mistakes, and the Buffalo Bills did just that. With less than 10 seconds off the game clock, Thad Lewis was hit and fumbled. It was recovered by New Orleans. Lewis finished the day with three total turnovers (two fumbles and one interception) and struggled to protect the ball.
The turnovers didn't hurt the Bills as much as penalties did today against the Saints, who had two costly penalties that could have changed how this game ended. At the end of the first half with New Orleans driving, Drew Brees scrambled to his left and threw a pass to the end zone that was intercepted by Leodis McKelvin.
Unfortunately, Mario Williams was flagged on the play for a facemask on Drew Brees and New Orleans went on to score a touchdown two plays later. If Williams wasn't hit with this penalty, Buffalo would have went into the locker room for halftime down by four instead of 11.
The other penalty came in the third quarter when Lewis connected with T.J. Graham on a 55-yard touchdown pass. This play was nullified because of a holding penalty on Scott Chandler. The Bills did end up scoring on this drive but a big play like that can change the momentum of a game.
This Team Has a Lot of Heart
Even though the Bills lost, I give Thad Lewis, Stevie Johnson and Fred Jackson a great deal of credit for how they played in this game. It was clear that these players were not at 100 percent and a number of times these players would come up limping at the end of plays.
The team as a whole played hard for all 60 minutes and, even when they were down by double digits, they kept fighting their way back into the game. Coach Marrone gets a lot of credit for this by changing the franchise attitude and getting players to buy into his message.
Bills fans are probably sick of hearing about moral victories but the truth of the matter is this isn't a playoff-caliber team yet, especially with all the injuries this season. The never say die attitude this team has shown will pay huge dividends in the future as they continue to head in the right direction.
The Offensive Line Continues to Struggle
The Bills' offensive line woes continued this week as Thad Lewis was pummeled by the Saints. The Bills' quarterback was sacked four times and hit another nine as the Saints regularly sent blitzes.
The Bills tried to do everything they could to give Lewis time in the pocket and regularly kept Scott Chandler and Fred Jackson as blockers. Chandler did not have a good day blocking though, as he was regularly left on an island to block but was unable to handle it.
Their job won't get any easier next week when they face Tamba Hali and the Kansas City Chiefs—the league's No. 1 defense in terms of sacks.
Mario Williams Can't Be Stopped
Mario Williams is having a career year and has been one of the best pass-rushers this year. This Sunday was no different as Williams got another sack, raising his season total to 10.
Playing for defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has rejuvenated Williams’ career. He is continually moved around the defense and this has allowed them to create mismatches for him that he has frequently been able to win.
Scott Chandler Finally Gets Involved in the Passing Game
Even though Scott Chandler has played every game this season, he finally looks like he is back to the player he was before his ACL injury last December. Against the Saints he was tied for the leading receiver in yards, receptions and targets with Stevie Johnson.
He showed good explosiveness off the line and was able to get a lot of separation from Saints' defenders. This was a big help to Lewis who did not have a great deal of time in the pocket to see the play develop and would need to get rid of the ball quickly.
The Bills will need Scott Chandler to step up again next week against the Chiefs. They have one of the best pass rushes and Lewis will need to get rid of the ball quickly.