The Bills’ run of playing competitive close ball games came to an abrupt end on Sunday at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings pounded the Bills in every facet of the game to beat the Bills 38-14.
The Bills showed some promise early on, as they knocked Brett Favre out of the game on the third play from scrimmage, forcing an interception and taking over in Viking territory. However, the Bills were unable to move the football and were forced to punt. On the Vikings’ third possession, Drayton Florence jumped an out route, his 2nd interception of the day, and returned a Tarvaris Jackson pass 40 yards for a touchdown, giving the Bills a 7-0 lead. After that, it was all Vikings, with the help of Leodis McKelvin.
McKelvin got burned by Sidney Rice for a couple of big throws, including a 31 yard touchdown that Rice was able to gain dual possession of the ball with McKelvin in the endzone. McKelvin proceeded to run into his own man and fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and interfere with a Viking receiver in the endzone to set up an Adrian Peterson touchdown.
While McKelvin did wind up with an interception and a 7 tackles, he pretty much completely swung the momentum in favor of the Vikings, and the Bills were unable to recover. Sidney Rice wound up with 5 catches for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns, most of the damage against McKelvin. While Leodis has had his best season in coverage, it seems pretty evident he is not, and maybe never will, be capable of covering top wide receivers, regardless of who is throwing them the ball. While he is more decisive on picking running lanes on kick returns than C.J. Spiller is, we have already seen his inability to secure the ball, especially in clutch situations, which is more than enough to warrant the end of his returning career. It seems the Bills first round pick in 2008 is nothing more than a nickel corner…pretty indicative of their first round drafting history.
Demetrius Bell was another culprit for this disaster, as Jared Allen was able to routinely beat the Bills’ left tackle and hit Ryan Fitzpatrick. I think Bell has had a pretty good season, but would probably be better suited to play right tackle. The Bills have yet to recover from the loss of Jason Peters, and desperately need a top flight tackle to watch their quarterback’s blind side. I don’t think Fitzpatrick is the long term answer at QB for the Bills, but with the Bills threatening to play themselves out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, their pressing need at tackle may warrant taking the best available tackle, rather than anyone else at QB.
The defense continues to be unable to stop the run. While Adrian Peterson is a great back, he was questionable with an ankle injury, and was still able to run right through potential Bill tacklers. I know the Bills have some injuries in the front seven on defense, but even while their defense had been doing a better job keeping opposing offenses out of the endzone, there are still many holes to fill.
I still feel like the Bills have played much better football lately, and one game doesn’t change that as everyone has a bad week. However, this game was a reminder to Bills’ management that this team still has a long way to go, and a lot of needs at a lot of positions. They play hard, but talent at key positions ultimately decides wins and losses in the NFL, and that’s exactly what the Bills don’t have.