Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Bills-Browns

The Bills fall to 6-3 after a disappointing 19-16 loss in Cleveland

Sal Capaccio
November 10, 2019 - 11:52 pm
Categories: 

The Buffalo Bills missed a chance to go 7-2 and take another huge step towards securing a playoff berth, but fell to the Cleveland Browns 19-16 on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

That means we start with the arrows pointing down:

 

ARROW DOWN:

  • Clock management on the final drive

The Bills were in prime position for a dramatic fourth quarter comeback to win. They moved the ball down to the Browns' 41-yard line, down three points with 1:05 to play. They had one timeout remaining. On first down, Josh Allen’s pass to Devin Singletary was incomplete, which stopped the clock with 59-seconds left. On second down, Singletary caught the ball in the flat and headed towards the sideline. He gained six yards and was tackled just shy of getting out of bounds (from my vantage point he may have gotten there), so the clock kept running. From there, Sean McDermott decided to let the clock run and, essentially, play for overtime and not the win. He elected not to use his team’s final timeout, which is fine if you’re going to get back on the ball fairly quickly and run another play to try and get the first down. However, there was no urgency to do that. They even huddled up again after originally getting to the line of scrimmage with about 43-seconds left, but the ball was snapped with 26-seconds remaining, running a whopping 33-seconds off the clock. From the spot the ball sat, it would be a 53-yard field goal attempt, which is where Stephen Hauschka said after the game was right at his limit for the day going in that direction. So after letting the clock run down and showing they were now thinking overtime is okay, it would make sense to gain a few more yards to at least give Hauschka a better chance, and maybe even a first down to give another set of plays. Instead of trying to gain a few more yards, Allen threw the ball deep to John Brown and by the time the ball fell incomplete there were only 22-seconds left. That brought up fourth down, and Hauschka had to attempt a field goal from 53 yards out.
 

  • K - Stephen Hauschka

The Bills kicker had two huge field goal misses in the game, and both came near the end of each half. The first was from only 34 yards away and Hauschka pushed it wide left. The second was to try to tie the game with 22-seconds left. It was a tough kick from 53 yards out, but Hauschka left it short and a tad left again. Those six points were obviously really big.
 

  • CB - Levi Wallace

Wallace was often matched up against Browns receiver Jarvis Landry, who definitely got the better of him, catching nine balls for 97 yards, including the game’s first touchdown and a huge 24-yard grab right before the game-winning touchdown. He also got turned round a couple plays later on that touchdown by Rashard Higgins.  
 

  • Not running the ball enough

The Browns came into this game as the 29th-ranked defense against the run, and 30th in yards per-play allowed. Even though Cleveland was doing a nice job stopping the run, the Bills could, and should have stuck with pounding the ball at them, remaining patient. The game was always close. There was no need to get away from doing that at any point. Devin Singletary did start popping a few runs and finished the game averaging 5.3 yards per-carry, but that was only only on eight runs. Singletary and Frank Gore combined for only 13 carries. As a team, the Bills ran the ball only 20 times compared to 41 passes.  
 

  • Missing deep passes... again

Once again, the Bills fail to complete any passes down the field, over top of the defense. It’s been an issue all year and continued to be one on Sunday with several missed chances, including one to Isaiah McKenzie, who had a step on the secondary, but Allen overthrew him.
 

  • Fourth down offense

The Bills went for it twice on fourth down. The first was a 4th-and-4 from the Browns' 39-yard line down 6-0 on the first offensive drive of the game. The other was also a 4th-and-4, from the Browns' 36-yard line on the last play of the third quarter, trailing by three. Both were incomplete passes intended for John Brown.
 

  • First half run defense

Once again, the Bills defense allowed their opponent to run over and through them throughout the first half. This time, the Browns ran 18 times for 110 yards, a 6.1 yards per-run average. Nick Chubb ran for 82 yards in the first half.
 

  • First drive against

The Browns went right down the field on the Bills on the first drive of the game. They started at there own 25-yard line and took just 2:51 to get into the end zone. The yardage on each play that drive, respectively: 0, 21, 12, 7, 18, 17. It was too easy, and the Bills dug themselves an early hole.
 

  • Slow-starting offense

The Bills offense took way too long to get anything going. They had only two drives in the first quarter. Those drives totaled only 12 yards in just seven plays.
 

  • Another Josh Allen fumble while running

It seems like a weekly occurrence now, but Allen, once again, fumbled the ball while running with it. This time, he was heading towards the end zone and had it knocked out of his hands. Luckily, his teammate Jon Feliciano was there to scoop it up.

 

ARROW UP:

  • CB - Tre’Davious White

We all knew White vs. Odell Beckham, Jr., would be the matchup to watch. White won it. Here’s how:

Beckham's final stat line: 12 targets, five receptions, 57 yards, no touchdowns. One of those catches was in zone coverage away from White. The Bills have one of the best cornerbacks in the game on their team, and he’s only getting better.
 

  • Goal line stand!

I’ve never seen anything like it. Already up 6-0, the Browns ran eight plays from the one-yard line (okay, one play was from the two-yard line) and did not score a touchdown. It was a remarkable display of goal line defense. There were penalties called against the Bills on two of those plays, both giving the Browns another first down from the one-yard line. The Browns ran the ball six times and threw it twice. None went anywhere.
 

  • WR - John Brown

Another week, another Arrow Up for Brown, who had four catches for 77 yards. Brown became the first Bills player ever to have nine straight games of at least four catches and at least 50 yards.
 

  • Jon Feliciano’s hustle

What went noticed was Jon Feliciano recovering Josh Allen’s fumble at the goal line. What went unnoticed was Feliciano hustling down the field, trailing Allen, just in case, well, that happened.
 

  • Second half defense

The Bills allowed 234 yards in the first half. They allowed 134 yards in the second half. 
 

  • P - Corey Bojorquez

Bills punter Corey Bojorquez had a good day punting the football and helping his team. He punted four times, pinning three of them inside the Browns' 20-yard line, and boomed one 64 yards. The drive starts for the Browns specifically after punts: their own 27, 8, 15, and 15.
 

  • Bills safety!

It’s been over a calendar year since we saw a Bills safety. It was a really well drawn-up blitz by defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier that resulted in Tremaine Edmunds sacking Baker Mayfield in his own end zone on the Browns' first play of the second half.

 

THE BIG PICTURE:

The Bills may have been 6-2, but all week leading up to this game, fans had been debating just how good they really are and how impressive that record actually is based on their schedule. No matter what your thoughts are along that spectrum, there’s one thing almost everyone could agree on - the Bills have been living pretty dangerously and close to the edge this year. They've beaten some of the worst teams in the NFL, but allowed those games to be too close. Sunday was the result of living on the edge too much. Sooner or later, you’re going to fall over.

The Bills fell against the Browns for several reasons, certainly not just one. Their run defense was bad in the first half again. Their passing game couldn’t hit a big play again. Their offense only scored 16 points. Their defense allowed a long game-winning touchdown drive. Their late-game clock management and coach’s decision-making was poor. Their kicker missed two field goals.

It’s not the first time most of those issues have popped up this season, but whenever they did before, the Bills overcame them somehow. They either found ways to bail themselves out or it was the opponent who made a critical mistake that cost them, and it looked like that was going to be the case again in Cleveland. It wasn’t. We heard all week how this was a desperate Browns team that absolutely had to win to save their season. We know how much talent they have.  

Las Vegas had the 2-6 Browns as 2.5-point favorites. Some people thought that was disrespectful to the 6-2 Bills, but Vegas usually knows. They knew what we’ve all been seeing, even if the 6-2 record was shining so brightly that it blinded it sometimes - that the Bills are good enough to beat the bad teams, but not good enough to beat the good ones. Even then, their margin for error is razor thin. They have to do a lot right and maybe even get a few breaks along the way to win.

They can still win with that formula, especially given their schedule. The Bills are in Miami to play the Dolphins next week, and then return home to face the Denver Broncos. Two winnable games. They still have a great shot to get to 8-3 before playing the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise at this point if they couldn’t do that.

Because that’s what happens when you always live on the edge.



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