New Orleans humiliates Buffalo in front of home crowd
On Sunday, the New Orleans Saints visited the Buffalo Bills and trampled all over the home team’s dirt at New Era Field on their way to a 37 point lopsided victory, the Bills’ widest margin of defeat at home since the 56-10 loss to New England ten years ago. The Saints earned their 7th consecutive win and improved to 7-2 overall while the Bills were dealt their first home loss of the year and dropped to 5-4.
For the second straight week, the Bills were out coached and dominated on both sides of the ball for almost the entire game. The back to back defeats by uncomfortably large margins have Buffalo fans shifting nervously in their seats as the shrinking playoff chances are an ominous reminder of previous seasons where the Bills started hot, only to fizzle out and miss the postseason.
Brees was unremarkable, throwing for 184 yards and no touchdowns, but he didn’t need to be. RBs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara terrorized the Buffalo run defense for a combined 237 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
At one point, the Saints ran 24 consecutive rushing plays in the second half which included a 10 play, 94 yard touchdown drive. They didn’t need to be creative as the Bills defense was that bad.
The Saints finished the day with 482 yards of total offense and six rushing touchdowns, the most the Bills have given up in a single game throughout their history. New Orleans also controlled the time of possession with 42:23 and 32 first downs compared to Buffalo’s minuscule 18:23 and 10.
Aside from the running game, WR Michael Thomas added another strong performance to his resume as he reeled in 9 receptions on 10 targets for 117 yards.
Sunday’s defensive debacle further to exposed the Bills’ deteriorating defense. Since week 5, Buffalo is 28th in the league with 28.4 points allowed per game, 29th with 403 yards allowed per game, and 31st with 6.07 yards given up per play. New Orleans didn’t punt the entire game and were only stopped once on the Buffalo 9 yard line when TE Josh Hill fumbled in the first quarter.
Boring offense continues to struggle
The first offensive drive looked promising as Buffalo marched down the field with a 36 yard run from LeSean McCoy, a designed run for Tyrod Taylor for 13 yards, and three targets to WR Kelvin Benjamin who made his debut as a Bill. K Steven Hauschka converted a 36 yard field goal after Taylor missed Benjamin twice in a row.
It was all down hill from there, however. The Saints snuffed out McCoy for the remainder of the game as he finished with just 49 yards on 8 carries. Taylor had one of his worst performances as he was 9 for 18 for 56 yards and an interception and a putrid 33.6 passer rating. While it’s not fair to blame everything on Tyrod, he continued to be far too risk averse and opted to check down to RB Mike Tolbert in the flats all too often.
Offensive Coordinator, Rick Dennison, continued his suspect play calling after that first drive. Kelvin Benjamin was targeted three times on the opening possession but did not see a pass his way again until Nathan Peterman entered the game during garbage time where he caught 3 passes for 31 yards. Tyrod Taylor’s quick feet were not utilized once again as he only had 3 attempts for 27 yards, 13 of which came from the designed run on the opening drive.
It is dumbfounding that the Bills were so ineffective offensively since they had TE Charles Clay finally return in addition to having Benjamin and McCoy all healthy. Clay finished the day with just 2 receptions on 3 targets for 13 yards.
New Orleans showed they knew who their play makers were as Michael Thomas was targeted 10 times and Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combined for 33 carries. The Bills have some offensive weapons, but Dennison, for whatever reason, does not like to target these guys or allow Tyrod to run the ball.
"“That wasn’t us. That wasn’t us in back to back weeks.” — Sean McDermott"
Rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman was probably the only positive takeaway from the game Sunday. Peterman replaced Tyrod late in the 4th quarter and showed he was able to move the ball as he was 7 for 10 for 79 yards and had a touchdown to TE Nick O’Leary, although he faced a softened Saints defense.
Coach McDermott reiterated after the game that Tyrod will remain at quarterback, although you can’t help but to wonder how much longer this will last, especially if he’s unable to improve soon.
As disheartening as Sunday’s loss may seem, the Bills are still holding on to the last playoff spot given the weak performance of AFC teams. The Bills will be on the road for the next two weeks, first stopping in Los Angeles to visit the Chargers and then at Arrowhead to play a tough Kansas City team.
Beating the Saints Sunday would have been nice, but it was a non-division, non-conference game so it was not all that important. The next two games against AFC teams will be pivotal in deciding Buffalo’s postseason fate.
But hey, at least the Bills Mafia showed up yesterday
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