The Bills weren’t expected to beat the Saints. They were 6 point underdogs to the high-powered 2-0 Saints. But for the first half, it appeared the Bills could play with New Orleans. Or, more precisely, it appeared the Bills defense could keeps the Saints juggernaut in check long enough to give the Bills offense a chance to show up. Sadly, the offense didn’t take that opportunity and were shut out at home against the 15th ranked defense in the NFL. Yes, the Bills scored on a fake field goal, but the offense couldn’t find a way to generate any points.
Let’s quantify just how bad the Bills offense was today. Trent Edwards went 20-35 for 156 yards and 1 interception. That equals 4.45 yards per attempt which would put Trent Edwards dead last in the NFL of all starting quarterbacks for the past few years in that important metric. In other words, Captain Checkdown reached a new level today. Heck, he even threw a checkdown pass on 4th and 23 with 2:25 left in the game and the Bills down 2 scores. The Bills converted 2 of 14 third downs for an anemic 14% third down conversion rate. And they scored 0 points.
And, just when Bills fans thought it was safe to go back in the water,
Coach Dick Jauron struck yet again. The New Orleans offense was starting to show life as they scored a touchdown to take a 17-7 lead with 9:40 left in the fourth quarter. Following the New Orleans kick-off, the Bills took possession of the ball at their own 19 yard line to start a drive that simply had to generate points. After a couple – you guessed it – checkdown passes and a couple penalties, the Bills faced 4th and 1 from their own 28 yard line with 7:30 left to play. The play call was obvious. Get it to Fred Jackson. Or, you might argue, run play action and take a shot down field since the Saints would be jumping the line of scrimmage. What did Dick Jauron choose? In what can only be considered a jaw-dropping display of stupidity, he punted.
He punted the ball away to New Orleans, and, to exactly no one’s surprise, they engineered a 4 minute drive, extended their lead to 13 and effectively ended the game. Of course, the game didn’t actually end there as Edwards managed to throw another couple checkdowns, the Saints scored another touchdown, and Jauron punted yet again facing 4th and 10 from the Bills 20 with 1:45 left in the game. The obvious question – was this second punt even dumber than the first punt with 7:30 left? Too hard to answer.
The Bills had a golden opportunity to register a big win against a good team. Instead, Jauron’s Bills took their record to 2-22 against teams with records above .500.
So now what?