DON’T GET ME STARTED had me being the fly on the wall that perhaps might have heard former Bills head coach Wade Phillips cajole the defensive stalwarts of his Houston Texans defense by saying, “If you ever play beyond expectations, make it this game against the Bills.
As everyone knows, Phillips was ceremoniously dispatched as the Bills head coach after the Bills reached the playoffs a dozen years, ago the last time that happened. Since then, the Bills haven’t sniffed the playoffs.
His defense responded by denying the Bills entry into the end zone, allowing only 3 field goals – 2 in the first half. Houston also blocked one of Lindell’s shorter boots.
Had Buffalo won they would have reached the .500 mark but, instead, at the halfway point of the season, they are 3-5 facing New England next week. Houston, meanwhile continued to be the best team in the NFL, now 7-1 on the season.
Make no mistake about it. This was a very winnable game for Buffalo.
The Bills are now 3 and 5 on the season with more questions coming up. Bills fans will be clamoring for something to happen. First, is it time to have someone else call the plays? Gailey was quite conservative in play calling at crucial times. Or the fans might be calling for Gailey to really get Travaris Jackson into the games to see what he can do since once again Fitzpatrick wasted a good first half by showing his inconsistency with a poor second half.
In the first half, Fitzpatrick had a pretty good outing, completing 14 of 17 for 144 yards. But he was not as effective in the second half. He finished the game completing 25 of 39 for 239 yards.
While the Bills defense again wilted in critical situations, they didn’t look as awful as they had in previous games.
Accuracy was part Fitzpatrick’s problem, even though at one point in the second quarter, Fitzpatrick had a string of 9 straight completions.
It was in the second half that proved the undoing. He was not nearly as sharp after the intermission with the game on the line as some of his passes were overthrown when receivers were open. On other occasions, there were drops, especially by Scott Chandler.
But the problem was that on 4 occasions, Fitzpatrick moved the Bills into the red zone on only to fall short, settling for 3 Lindell field goals.
As for Houston, they allowed Buffalo to stay in the game with many penalties. Matt Schaub had a good day going 19 of 27 for 268 yards and 2 touchdowns, no turnovers while Arian Foster carried 24 times for 111 yards and a TD.
As the game wore on, it seemed as if Buffalo would escape without a turnover, but just before the 2-minute warning, Fitzpatrick fumbled the ball on a scramble. It didn’t matter because at that point, the outcome was not in doubt.
Once again, Gailey disdained the running game, allowing Jackson and Spiller to share 12 rushes on the day – 6 apiece. Once again, as he has done in the past, Gailey put the ball in Fitzpatrick’s hands and once again it didn’t pay off. Donald Jones led the receivers with 6 grabs for 60 yards.
Houston outgained Buffalo 374 to 308 but the Bills managed only to 3rd down conversions on 11 tries. In the first half, they had a 3rd and 1 but failed to make it. That put Buffalo’s defense in a poor situation since Houston had the ball for over 34 minutes.
Fans will probably be wondering why Brad Smith is still on the roster. Twice in the wildcat, he gained nothing. McKelvin has become the kickoff and punt returner so Smith is occupying a spot that could be had by – say – wide receiver N. Roosevelt or someone else.
As for the game, Aaron Williams had another less than glorious showing before getting injured as Andre Johnson kept beating him. Also, Stephone Gilmour played it very loosely allowing Houston to make easy 1st downs on short completions.
Probably the difference between Fitzpatrick and Schaub is that the Houston QB fired some long throws while, as usual, Fitzpatrick had to settle for the short tosses.
Here’s how the scoring developed
It took the Houston Texans 3 possessions to score the games first points after Buffalo failed on its initial two tries, the first time when Fitzpatrick overthrew an open Stevie Johnson; the second when Spiller was stopped on a 3rd and very short. Both times, Powell had to punt the ball – which he did well.
On Houston’s 3rd possession, Matt Schaub, not too effective early on, unloaded a long pass to Owen Daniels for 39 yards and a touchdown, ending a 4 play 77 yard drive as the first quarter was drawing to a close.
On Buffalo’s opening possession of the 2nd quarter, C.J. Spiller took a screen pass and rambled inside the Texans 20 but Houston stiffened forcing a 37-yard field goal attempt that was missed by Lindell, wide right keeping the Texans in front 7-0.
Houston mounted a drive to the Bills 20 but Mario Williams sacked Schaub, a penalty moved them back then a field goal attempt by Shayne Graham was blocked by Carrington to keep the score 7-0.
Then the Bills mounted the best drive of the game. Starting at its own 36 following the blocked field goal, Fitzpatrick moved downfield to the Houston 10-yard line at the 2-minute warning. A penalty moved Bills back 5 yards. A pass to Jones put the ball on the making it 4th and 2. Chan Gailey decided against going for it and Lindell came in to boot a 22-yard field goal to make the score 7-3.
After holding Houston to 3 and out, and 53 seconds left in the half, Buffalo started on its own 33 and moved downfield into the red zone but Fitzpatrick suffered a sack and Lindell had to come in to make a 37-yard field goal to close the gap to 7-6 at halftime.
Fitzpatrick was 14 of 17 for 144 yards, no interceptions and sacked twice. Fred Jackson carried 5 times for 19 yards with a long of 13, while Spiller was 4 for 30 yards. Donald Jones was the leading receiver with 4 grabs for 48 yards.
Schaub completed 8 of 14 for 124 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked by Mario Williams. Arian Foster carried 7 times for 62 yards while Owen Daniels had 3 catches for 50 yards.
At the start of the final 15 minutes, Buffalo took the kickoff and went 3 and out. After having only 3 incompletions in the first half, Fitzpatrick mis-fired 3 times on that opening drive of the second half.
Schaub wasted no time hitting pay dirt after Buffalo had to punt to Houston’s 31. A couple of runs by Foster, Schaub hooked up with Andre Johnson for a 34-yard pass play to Buffalo’s 3 where Foster punched it in to give Houston a 14-6 lead.
Buffalo once again managed to move the ball from its own 23 to the Houston 21 but once again, Lindell had to come in and boot a 39-yard field goal and it was 14-9.
After an exchange of punts, Houston began a drive at its own 32. A few completions moved the ball to Buffalo’s 9. Then facing a 3rd and 5, Schaub hit Garret Graham with a touchdown pass to give the Texans a comfortable 21-9 lead. It was an 11-play drive covering 68 yards.
The Bills went 3 and out as Shawn Powell, with a 47.5 average on 4 punts, booted 57 yards to the Houston 10.
Houston marched down the field but failed on a 4th down play giving Buffalo the ball on its own 30 but after reaching the Texans 36, Fitzpatrick scrambled, was hit and fumbled the ball on the 32 with Houston recovering. There was no further scoring.
And that’s what has me remembering the words of Buddy Nix indicating a need for a franchise quarterback (as fans are agreeing) and whether is faith in Buddy Nix is a vote of confidence as fans know when that is given, it’s usually a sign that the coach is on his way on Don’t Get Me Started.
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