Bills' run game doesn't make the trip to Toronto

Posted Nov. 08, 2010 @ 1:49 p.m.
Posted By Eli Kaberon

For the third week in a row, the Bills had a chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter. But for the third week in a row, and eighth time this season, Buffalo failed to execute when necessary and remains winless after a 22-19 loss to the Bears in Toronto.

Chicago's Earl Bennett hauled in the go-ahead touchdown with 6:41 remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Bills were unable to respond with a score of their own. Costly turnovers and miscues have become the norm down the stretch for this team, and Week Nine was no different, as a missed point-after try, failed two-point conversion and turnover on downs doomed any chance of pulling out a victory. Both the Bears and Bills scored three touchdowns with no field goals, but the missed conversions were the difference.

The PFW Spin

Offensive balance (or a lack-there-of) was the topic of conversation for Bears fans heading into the game, but the conversation may be heading to Buffalo now. The Bills had a 52-18 pass-run ratio in the contest, an insane disproportion for a game that never had a point differential of more than a touchdown. Head coach and offensive play-caller Chan Gailey blamed early struggles on the ground for the reason the team was so pass-heavy.

"We tried to establish the run early in the ball game, but couldn't," Gailey said. "So, we ended up having to throw the ball a lot more than I ever wanted to in the ball game."

Chicago has one of the league's top run defenses and the Bills' offensive line has struggled in 2010 creating running lanes for RBs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Jackson finished with 16 yards on eight carries with one touchdown and Spiller finished with 7-20-0 — the first time this season the rookie led the team in rushing. Still, 15 carries between the two is not enough, and the lack of balance wound up costing the team a win. In the entire fourth quarter, Gailey called only four running plays, five if you count the failed two-point conversion.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had another impressive afternoon, but a pair of costly fourth-quarter interceptions — one with the Bills up by five and looking to put the game away, the other trailing by three with less than a minute remaining — doomed the team again. Fitzpatrick manages the game well and clearly has gained the trust of his coaches who sent him back to pass time and time again on Sunday. Yet, when it came down to crunch time, he did the same thing in Toronto that he did in New England Week Three and Kansas City Week Eight: throw an interception. Until he protects the ball better, the Bills will continue to lose in close games. And without a run game to help, the zero in the win column is a burden resting on the quarterback's right arm.