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Week 4: Eagles Hand Bills Second Straight Loss 23-13
Offense gets going too little, too late
by Steve Saslow
Week 4
Eagles  23
Bills  13
Gameday Grades

The Bills went down to defeat for the second straight game as the Eagles got in the win column with a 23-13 victory over Buffalo. The Bills ran their offensive streak of not scoring to 129 minutes before launching a furious comeback that fell short when the big money defense couldn't stop the Eagles in the final minutes. It was a game that the Bills played very bad for the second straight week despite the furious finish it looked like a replay of the Miami game.

The Bills did come into this game this week without Travis Henry but the Eagles were missing 3/4 of their secondary when Troy Vincent went down in the first quarter. The Bills could still not move the ball offensively against a very inexperienced and banged up secondary. The passing game wasn't working and the running game behind Joe Burns was a non factor as well. The Bills finally went to the hurry up in the fourth quarter when they were trailing 16-0. Back to back scoring drives that were culminated by a three yard touchdown pass to Bobby Shaw and a one yard plunge by Drew Bledsoe pulled the Bills within three.

After a very frustrating afternoon for the Bills where they just couldn't get anything going offensively, they found a way to crawl back into it. That is where the defense got frustrating. They had a chance to stop the Eagles and get the suddenly hot offense back on the field. This is what the high priced defense was paid to do. Since they were at home and had the momentum, they have to come up with a stop there. Instead on third and 7, James Thrash got lose against a pathetic three man rush of mostly backup defensive linemen and caught a pass to deflate the Bills. They were so deflated they gave up a 62 yard touchdown run, two plays later to wrap up the game.

I don't want to come down totally on the defense as the offense did their impression of last week for three quarters. Every time they got something going offensively they would shoot themselves in the foot with a dropped pass or a penalty. Penalties were a big part of the loss for the Bills, how many times do we say that? There were 8 more penalties for 64 yards. There was also questionable play calling as the team did not attack the Eagles secondary, or leave Sam Gash on the field to help open up any holes for the non existent running game. Instead of finding the wide receivers open in the defensive backfield they constantly tried to get the ball to the tight end and running back. On a third and one, Bledsoe went deep to Mark Campbell instead of going elsewhere short to get the first down and keep the changes moving. It was just a gameplan that didn't make sense.

The Eagles scored on their first two drives as the Bills defense opened the way they closed, giving up chunks of yardage. A touchdown run by Corey Buckhalter and the first of three David Akers field goals gave the Eagles the 10-0 lead in the first quarter. The defense settled down in the middle of the game and just gave up two field goals, one after a big fumble by Bobby Shaw late in the first half when the Bills were driving for a possible score.

This game could have been a bigger rout then it was, the Bills woke up way too late as the offensive slump continued, hopefully the fourth quarter touchdown drives will give the offense something to build on for the future. Two plays tell the story, one early, one late. The Bills had 12 men on the field on the opening play, that shows a lack of discipline that would continue throughout the game, the blame for that goes squarely on the coaching staff. The last offensive play, Bledsoe threw the ball away on fourth down, not realizing it was fourth down. Those two plays emphasized how frustrating, and sloppy the Bills were in this loss.

The big picture shows the Bills at 2-2 a quarter of the way through the season. The loss isn't devastating since it wasn't a conference game and the Patriots also lost, but the Bills are no longer in first place as their fast start is a very distant memory. And the suddenly "hot" Cincinnati Bengals come to town next week after getting their first win of the year.

Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills loss. As was the case last week, there are many more goats then gameballs:

  • Drew Bledsoe - He struggled early but led a comeback in the fourth quarter that fell short despite his fifth career rushing touchdown.
  • Eric Moulds - Gets a gameball for going over 100 yards receiving on eight catches. He did also drop a ball in the end zone and like the rest of the offense did nothing until the final quarter.

  • Goats
  • Bobby Shaw - His fumble late in the first half absolutely killed the Bills chances of getting back in the game. He also dropped a few passes despite catching eight passes for 92 yards.
  • Josh Reed - He dropped another pass and couldn't get open on the banged up Eagles secondary.
  • Nate Clements - He was burned twice in the first half for big gainers. In the third quarter missed a tackle that kept a drive alive.
  • Pierson Prioleau - He missed a tackle that resulted in a first down on a first half scoring drive. Was called for a terrible hands to the face penalty and missed a tackle on the final Westrbook touchdown.
  • Gregg Williams - Didn't have the team ready to play. Again penalties were the big downfall of the team. How many times are we going to say that! Three crucial penalties on one drive. Didn't call for a review on an incompletion to Reed on third and 2. Then made a terrible review late in the game on a catch by Dave Moore. It cost them a timeout. He caught it and it should have been reviewed. He then tried an ill advised 51 yard field goal attempt. Obviously showing a lack of confidence in his offense. Why not throw downfield more instead of waiting until desperation time against a banged up secondary?

  • Player Of The Week
  • Drew Bledsoe - His numbers were solid in a losing effort. 27 of 43 for 296 yards and a touchdown pass and touchdown run.

  • Positional Breakdown and Grades Gamebook
    Eagles Game Preview
    Gameday Homepage

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