Analysis, Commentary

Allen/Bills Give Their All: Not Enough

Featured Photo Credit: © Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports via, LLC.

As I See It

First of all, I think continuity in the NFL is the key to success. Building a culture. We get tired of hearing HC Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane talk about “the process”, but they’ve done an excellent job for the most part since taking over a sinking organization in 2017. They’ve got their franchise QB and the culture has definitely improved.

But McDermott’s failure in big games is starting to become noticeable. He’s 4-5 in the playoffs and has yet to win an overtime game. The Bills dominated this game in so many ways it’s hard to believe they didn’t win it.

More on that shortly, but a shout out here to my sponsors: Atwal Eye Care, the Bills official vision caretaker. It was Atwal that performed cataract surgery on both my eyes a few months ago, and the result was simply amazing.

BluTusk Tech of Orchard Park, which specializes in refurbishing used computers, and they’ve helped me personally for sure.

And finally GlobalVendingGroup of Buffalo, which is providing book vending machines around the world to schools to enhance child literacy.

Back to the Bills.

Let’s not overreact, because making any changes can have unintended consequences. So far McDermott’s change of Ken Dorsey to Joe Brady as Offensive Coordinator looks like a positive, but owner Terry Pegula will only tolerate the underachieving this season for so long. The remaining five games are huge for a lot of reasons.

Your franchise QB is 27, and you have a new stadium to fill in 3-4 years.

I dislike it intensely when players, media or fans immediately start blaming the officials for bad plays or losses. The best officiated games are those where fans of both teams think they got screwed.

However, in the Bills gut wrenching 37-34 overtime loss to the Eagles on a miserable cold, windy and rainy afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, the officiating was awful – especially in the first half.

In fairness, the Bills earned many of them with false starts and holding penalties. These self induced gaffs helped the Eagles put together their only TD scoring drive of the first half when the Bills D was stopping them cold. That would matter later.

The officials didn’t lose this game. But the calls they missed? A clear horse collar on Josh Allen that wound up being intentional grounding? Some obvious pass interference calls. The numbers are wacky, with 10 of the Bills 11 penalties for 80 yards coming in the first half. The Eagles drew four flags for 30 yards. What looked like a forced fumble that would have ended the game in overtime was ruled an incomplete pass. Granted I’m biased but I thought it was a catch, tuck and two steps before the ball came out. Fumble. Game over.

Years ago I saw a study that was aimed at why home teams usually have an advantage in most sports, not just football. Is it the loudness of the crowd? The unfamiliar setting? Yes in part. The Eagles’ crowd did bother the Bills OLine at times.

But the overwhelming advantage? Home crowds get the benefit of the doubt on calls. It’s not that anything is fixed, or the officials are even aware of it, but psychologically the refs are intimidated at times. How often do we see an incomplete pass, and then several moments later as the crowd roars, we see the yellow flag come out?

Photo by © Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports via, LLC.

But with the Bills now 6-6 and on the outside looking in at the playoffs, you have to start wondering if Sean McDermott is the right guy for this team. Allen is still only 27, but there’s no way this team – even with its long injury list – should be 6-6. The six losses have all been by 6 points or less. The losses to the Jets in the opener, the Jaguars London fiasco, the meltdown against a bad Patriots team and giveaway to the Broncos?

In this game the Bills gained over 500 yards and won the turnover battle 2-1 and somehow lost. One of the best efforts of Allen’s career was wasted.

It looked so good for the Bills at the end of regulation when Allen hit Gabe Davis for a short TD pass for a 31-28 lead with just under 2 minutes left, but – unbelievable – Jake Elliott hit a 59 yard fg into a rainy cross wind and we’re at 31-31 with :25 left.

I get that coaches tend to think a lot more about the downside of any situation than the upside, but what message did it send to Allen and the Bills that he wasted a timeout before that kick and then kneeled out the final 20 seconds to go to overtime. Playing not to lose. No question that mentality had hampered the now departed Ken Dorsey, but hopefully OC Joe Brady won’t have his hands tied.

Despite the gallant effort, this puts the Bills playoff hopes in serious danger. They’re 6-6 with five games left after next weekend’s bye. The next game is at KC against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Then a breather at home against the Cowboys. The final game is at Miami, so if the Fins should stumble and the Bills go on a run, there would be hope. CBS analyst Tony Romo, who does a great job imo, predicted the Bills to go on a run now, and he’s often dead on with predictions.

The Bills inability to build a lead early kept the Eagles alive, and as they do so often on their way to the NFL’s best 10-1 record, the Eagles led by Jalen Hurts made the plays when they mattered most. His final numbers are impressive. He accounted for five touchdowns – three passing and two running. He completed 18-31 for 200 yards and 3 TD’s, and ran for two more with 14 rushes for 65 yards.

But he had two turnovers, which don’t seem to matter now. He had a deflected pass picked off by Bills MLB Terrell Bernard and later flubbed a handoff recovered by Greg Rousseau.

So Hurts won the “duel”, you say?

Allen played what could have been his best game as a pro, considering the importance of the game, the opponent and the miserable weather conditions.

Yes, he threw an interception and it hurt, coming from James Bradbury in the 4th quarter. The Eagles then turned the Bills 24-21 lead into 28-24 Eagles. But Allen again brought the Bills back. He had a great chance to win the game in OT when he saw Gabe Davis single covered near the end zone. Allen’s read was for Davis to break right, but Davis went left and the ball hit the ground untouched.

What to make of Davis? I’m asking this every week. He can be brilliant. He had six catches for 106 yards and a TD, but on six other targets he was never really open and had a 50% catch rate. Stefon Diggs had decent numbers with 6-74 and a TD, but Diggs also had a couple drops and was covered on five of his 11 targets.

Photo by © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports via, LLC.

But Allen was incredible. He threw 51 times and completed 29 for 339 yards and two TD’s. Allen also ran for 81 yards and two TD’s as well. The Eagles vaunted pass rush only sacked him once, although Allen’s mobility was partly responsible for that. This is who Allen is. Yes, there’s risk involved every time he takes off, but that’s a big reason he’s accounted for the most TD passes and runs in NFL history over his first 5 seasons.

Many NFL media types are already proclaiming that Hurts outplayed Allen, but that would be unfair and untrue in my opinion. Hurts was terrible in the first half, as the Bills defensive pressure pushed him out of the pocket several times, limiting Hurts to 33 yards passing as the Bills built a 17-7 lead. But the Eagles adjusted, and the Bills D couldn’t keep up their pressure in the 2nd half.

Give McDermott credit for an excellent defensive approach in the first half, but the Eagles figured it out and totally out coached McDermott in the 2nd half. To be fair, the Eagles are the team that came within one Hurts turnover of beating the Chiefs in last year’s Super Bowl. They’re really good! But the Bills D had no answers in the 2nd half, especially in the red zone.

The Bills special teams again hurt them. Tyler Bass had one FG blocked and missed another, but did hit 2 including a 48 yarder. Those six points would have been the difference.

One bright spot certainly, was the playcalling of OC Joe Brady. For only his second game, he called an impressive game. The Bills racked up over 30 points for the second straight contest, and against the Eagles had 29 first downs and 505 total yards. Allen accounted for 420 of those yards, as Philly wound up with 378 yards.

When the Bills fell behind a couple times in the second half, Brady pounded the ball, and Allen’s scrambles helped on several third-down conversions – the Bills were an impressive 13-22 on third down – and he used James Cook effectively as he contributed a combined 100 yards rushing and receiving.

Now the Bills have a weekend off to regroup, knowing full well they’re now out of mulligans.

So could the Bills run the table and finish 11-6?

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least, but first let me sulk another day or two to digest this one.

It Hurts.

Thanks again to sponsors Atwal Eye Care, BluTusk Tech and GlobalVendingGroup of Buffalo.

Editor’s babble: Oh my goodness, what a horrible loss. Again. Many thanks to Ed Kilgore for helping us endure the pain. You can also find Ed on Xwitter @Kilgore2Ed and be sure to tune into The Ed Kilgore Show wherever you get your podcasts. is sponsored by 26 Shirts

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4 thoughts on “Allen/Bills Give Their All: Not Enough”

  1. I love reading your analogies and yes, I too am sulking.
    After jumping on the Bills bandwagon in 1991, I have been a diehard fan since.
    I just hope this doesn’t mean that Buffalo will be wandering in the wilderness for years to come as they will never get great draft picks and attact star players if we can’t get there.

  2. I so want this team to win. I have been doing that since 1966. It is always something. We know the very long litany of missed opportunities. We never seem to come up “Big” when it is needed. It used to be (1960/70’s) it was said that Oakland shlubed through the season and kicked it into another gear for the playoffs. I don’t know that this is true but “Play-off” teams always seem to have that second gear. This is not “Captain Comebacks” team. I wish Buffalo would find their second gear.

  3. Let’s hope they will turn it around but after the season search for a new coach and gm. Too poor coaching and Beane wasting money on players that don’t contribute mainly Von Miller but others as well.

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