Here’s my second installment of what’s going to be a regular feature at BLD: Bills Failure Chronicles. Each week, we’ll take an in-depth look at some of the worst and most ridiculous losses in Bills history. I’ll also rate each loss on my Labatt’s losing scale, which measures how much I have to drink to feel better after thinking about that game.
Background: 2007 started about as badly as a season can start for an NFL team. The Bills dropped their first three games, getting blown out by New England and Pittsburgh and losing on a last-second field goal to Denver. Far more importantly, the Denver contest was the game in which Kevin Everett suffered his tragic injury. A bit of hope emerged, however, as the Bills held off the Jets 17-14 in Week 4. This gave the Bills a bit of momentum entering this Monday night contest with the heavily favored, undefeated Dallas Cowboys. The game was Buffalo’s first home Monday Night Football appearance in 13 years.
The Terrible Result: Here we are nearly four years later, and I still have nightmares about this one. The game couldn’t have started any better, as George Wilson intercepted a Tony Romo pass early in the first quarter and took it all the way back to give the Bills a 7-0 lead. Late in the half, Chris Kelsay (yeah, really) tipped a Romo pass high into the air and caught it himself in the endzone to stretch the Bills lead to 17-7. The Bills picked off five Romo passes in all and forced him to lose a fumble.
In the second half, Terrence McGee returned a kickoff 103 yards for a score and stretched the Buffalo lead to 24-13 with 8:48 to play in the third quarter. The Bills wouldn’t score again.
With Dallas trailing by eight late in the game, Romo led the Cowboys 80 yards down the field, culminating with a four-yard TD pass to Patrick Crayton to pull Dallas within two with 20 seconds to go. At this point, I was sure the Bills would give up the 2-point conversion and lose in overtime. Shockingly, Jabari Greer broke up the conversion pass and all the Bills had to do was recover an onside kick to pull the upset.
Naturally, the Cowboys’ Tony Curtis recovered the onside kick. Two way-too-easy completions later, and Cowboys’ kicker Nick Folk was set up for a 53-yard game-winner. Folk’s kick was absolutely perfect, and it appeared the Cowboys had won. However, officials ruled that Bills coach Dick Jauron had called time-out before the snap, and Folk had to kick again. Of course, Folk’s second kick was also freaking perfect, and the Cowboys really had won.
If you hate yourself and want to endure some torture, here’s the game highlight video from NFL.com.
Hope Spot: Any of Romo’s six turnovers could probably qualify. But it has to be Bills’ defense holding on the two-point conversion. I actually had a friend who was at the Ralph that night and ran out of the stadium in joyful glee after Greer broke up the pass, thinking the Bills had won. He didn’t find out until the drive home that the Bills had actually lost.
“Bills” Moment: (One of those ridiculous, awful moments that only seem to happen to the Bills) Failing to recover the onside kick. Especially since the Bills’ special teams were widely touted as the best in the league at the time. I got about ten texts from fellow Bills fans right before the kick saying, “I bet we don’t recover this and lose.” Yeah, we’re an optimistic bunch.
Ridiculous Stat(s) of the Game: A ton in this one:
1) The Bills had a +5 turnover differential. And lost.
2) The Bills had three returns for touchdowns (two INTs and a kickoff return). And lost.
3) The Bills had an eight-point lead with 20 seconds to play. And lost in regulation.
4) Nick Folk went 4-for-4 on field goals. In a unrelated story, here’s Nick Folk missing a 24-yard field goal against the Saints just a season later.
5) Trent Edwards had the ultimate gutless, “Captain Checkdown” performance he was known for. Despite the fact he went 23-for-31 passing, he only threw for 176 yards and averaged just 5.7 yards per attempt. The Bills’ offense accounted for just 3 points.
6) Brian Moorman (1 carry, 10 yards) was Buffalo’s second-leading rusher.
Personal Memory: My dad is a Cowboys fan. Even he felt pretty bad for me after this one.
Best Postgame Quote: “It was embarrassing, embarrassing,” Bills receiver Lee Evans, on the verge of tears, kept repeating in the somber locker room. “We had opportunities to put the game away, put some points on the board, give us a little more cushion. Couldn’t do it. It’s embarrassing.” (Is it just me, or does Evans have five or six quotes like this per season?)
Aftermath: To the Bills’ credit, the team actually recovered very well from this ridiculous loss. Buffalo reeled off four straight wins to move to 5-4 heading into a contest with the undefeated New England Patriots. NBC actually used the flex scheduling option to make that game the Sunday Night contest that week. The Bills responded by losing 56-10(!) in a game that will be the subject of a future Bills Failure Chronicles. Buffalo finished 7-9. Dallas finished 13-3 but lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to the eventual champion Giants.
Labatt’s Losing Level: (1 – I’ll be okay; 10 – Only getting blackout drunk will dull the pain)
This game gets an eight. Brutal. I actually think I might have had eight Labatt’s in the second half of this one.
Previous Bills Failure Chronicles: