Drew Bledsoe can thank his lucky stars. Not the stars on the Dallas helmets but the fact that he didn't have to go into the dressing room after that horrendous performance and face Bill Parcells, his former coach. If it had been ten years earlier, Bledsoe would have received the wrath of Parcells and may have ended up on the bench for a few games.
Bledsoe, however, only had to go back into the visitors dressing room and pretend nothing happened. The Bills beleaguered quarterback had yet another unsightly performance and was one of the big reasons why the Bills lost to the Dallas Cowboys 10-6. The Buffalo defense showed up and had a solid game, shutting down most of the Cowboys' offensive elements. If it weren't a Bledsoe fumble that resulted in a Cowboys touchdown, the Bills would have kept the Cowboys out of the endzone.
Four road games without a touchdown
The Bills have now gone 17 quarters without scoring an offensive touchdown. That is 4 games and a quarter. A veteran quarterback of Bledsoe's stature has to take charge and lead the team out of the wilderness. He hasn't even come close to that this year. The only game in which he has thrown a touchdown on the road was in Jacksonville against their suspect defense.
"Offensively we have not produced," said Bledsoe. "Am I the trigger? Yeah, I'm the trigger and I've never hidden from that and never will. If we don't produce I feel like it's definitely my fault. But we have to as a team, and I have to as a player, find a way to make that play to produce points."
Bledsoe's two fumbles resulted in the Cowboys only touchdown and killed an impressive Buffalo drive deep into Dallas territory. He also produced a meager 104 yards through the air on 17 completions out of 34 attempts. Those are probably the worst numbers he has had in years.
While the Cowboys sent the hounds after Bledsoe and the offensive line has to take some of the blame, it is the job of the quarterback to get rid of the ball quickly or take the sack and protect the ball. Bledsoe did neither. He was sacked three times and on the two fumbles, Bledsoe was careless with the ball. One time he tried to pass the ball when 2 defenders had him in their grasp. The ball came loose as his arm hit the body of a tackler.
"I'll give them credit first and foremost," lauded Bledsoe about the Cowboys persistent rush. "They're going to blitz you and bring one more than you have on your protection and there's going to be somebody free. We must be able to get the ball off quickly and get it in the hands of one of our guys and make a play. We didn't get that done. It wasn't a matter of confusion. We knew it was coming and we knew what they were doing. We just weren't able to make that one play."
Yes, that one play that could have given the Bills the victory. The Bills defense was swarming all day, playing like it did in the opening game when they shut out the Patriots. The D kept the Bills in the game and were waiting for the offense to finally answer the bell. It never did.
Bledsoe, while he seemed like he was wearing cement shoes, can't take all the blame for the offensive woes. Once again, there is offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride who can take a lot of heat off Bledsoe. On a 3rd and 2, Gilbride called pass play and Bledsoe was sacked. On a fourth down from just outside the Dallas 40 and 3 yards to go, the Bills punted when the logical thing was to go for it and try to finally get a touchdown. Gilbride has proven once again that he doesn't have a clue how to get this offense clicking.
In order for the Bills to make the playoffs, they must 6 out of their next seven games. Looking at the schedule, almost Mission Impossible. After hosting the Houston Texans this week, the schedule takes a drastic turn for the worse. The next week, they host the Indianapolis Colts, followed by a trip to New York to play the Giants. A home game against the Jets is followed by a trip down to Tennessee, where it will be almost as tough to win as it was in Kansas City. The final two games find the Bills hosting the Miami Dolphins on December 21 and concluding their season in New England. The Bills will be lucky to win 2 of those games, let alone 6.
So for all practical reasons, the season is basically over. Now would be the time to groom some of the youngsters on the team and maybe search for a competent coaching staff. As for the quarterback situation, Bledsoe appears to be on his last legs in the NFL.
There were a lot of angry Bills in the locker room after the loss. Reading between the lines, the players are on the brink of revolt. The coaching staff has not pieced together a team loaded with talent. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells has been able to mold a team that were worst than the Bills last year to a first place 7-2 record. That doesn't make Bills head coach Gregg Williams' job to secure and he knows it.
"It's a team game," said Williams. "We didn't get any turnovers. We were so close there. Antoine Winfield made a great break on the ball. It would have been a great situation to take the distance. We thought we might be able to get a turnover too. They got a turnover on us and it was the tail part of the ball game. I said going in there that we can't turn the football over and we did."
As for not being able to score touchdowns on the road, Williams replied, "We have to get an answer to be able to get touchdowns at home and on the road. It doesn't make any difference. We have to score touchdowns in order to win ball games."
Bledsoe was upset with the loss, but not distraught. He talked about the pressure the Cowboys put on him throughout the game.
"They came out and blitzed," Bledsoe said. "Especially in the second half, they were just going to come after us and blitzed us. When they are going to blitz and play man coverage we must make one play for a big play against their man coverage and we weren't able to get that done."
Bledsoe then talked about the fumble that was the turning point of the game, his first one that resulted in the Cowboys winning touchdown.
"I got quick pressure and was sliding up in the pocket," described Bledsoe. "As I was sliding up I saw that Josh Reed had broken free of his coverage and as I went to try and throw the ball to him somebody got their hand on the ball and knocked it free. Looking back on it at that point I probably should have just taken the sack and punted the ball away and let our defense continue to stop them as they did all day."
Since game two of the season, the Bills offense has been in a huge funk.
"I'm frustrated with our production," Bledsoe said. "We haven't produced recently. We spent the bye week searching for answers particularly on third down. The story of the game is they came after us and blitzed us. We didn't make the one play that we needed to make."
Eric Moulds was wondering just what the Bills have to do to finally start producing again.
"We have seven games left, you have to keep plugging," Moulds said. "You're never out of it until you're out of it, so that's the way we have to approach it. We have to play hard every game and hopefully it's enough to get into the playoffs. But what we need to do is win a game right now, that's what we need to do."
Then he tried to explain Bledsoe's funk that the Bills quarterback has been in since the third game of the season.
"I can't explain it," Moulds said. "It's something he has to get himself out of. Eventually he'll come out of it, hopefully. I think that we have to help him come out of it. We didn't make plays down field. I myself didn't make enough plays. You might say injury might be apart of that but it's really no excuse, I still have to make those plays."
Bledsoe talked about the problems he had finding his favorite target.
"They weren't allowing me enough time to throw the ball for Eric, to make extra moves to get himself free from man-to-man coverage. We weren't able to hook up on the quick throws and make the plays that we needed to make."
Throughout all of this, Bledsoe says he hasn't lost an ounce of confidence in himself.
"I have complete confidence in my ability to play this game. When I have time to throw the ball and I have a guy open I'm going to hit him. I will continue to believe that."
Copyright © 2003 Bills Thunder, all rights reserved.
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