The Buffalo Bills had their chances to keep their playoff hopes alive, but essentially gave the game, and the season away on back-to-back turnovers.
Stevie Johnson and Scott Chandler both were responsible for fumbles, and were both equally as costly. Johnson's fumble came with 20 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, after catching a pass that put the Bills well within field goal range. Chandler's fumble occurred on Buffalo's overtime possession, and Atlanta recovered and won the game on a field goal on the ensuing possession. The loss is a common trend for Buffalo. They were in it for the entire game, and even held an early 14-0 lead. But critical mistakes buried them once again.
Buffalo's hopes of ending a painful playoff drought were crushed with the loss. The best the Bills can finish this season is 8-8, which is unlikely with both Miami and New England left on the schedule, and the fact that they're still making bonehead mistakes at critical points in games. And while the loss hurts, it wasn't all bad for Buffalo. EJ Manuel scored on both a rushing and passing touchdown and CJ Spiller rushed for more than 100 yards and a touchdown.
Buffalo's efforts weren't helped by the officiating crew in Toronto yesterday either. The Bills were called on an illegal contact penalty, where Aaron Williams not only didn't touch Tony Gonzales, but was a few yards behind him at best. Nickell Robey was also flagged for pass interference in the endzone on a third-and-goal play from Buffalo's 15-yard-line. The contact was mutual for the most part, and both players hit the ground. But the call was made and Atlanta scored the tying touchdown after the play.
Buffalo's home filed advantage was yet again wiped out in a Toronto stadium that was quiet for most of the game, except when the Falcons made a play. Despite Buffalo's logo being on the field, and the team's name being painted in each endzone, the Bills were playing on neutral field at best. Not only did they not have the advantage of a dome team playing in the elements in Ralph Wilson Stadium, they also didn't have the crowd behind them. The only positive drawn from that could be that there were no beer bottles thrown on the field after Atlanta won the game from the classy sports fans that reside in Toronto.
Nevertheless, bad calls and a crowd atmosphere did not cost the Bills this game. Their lack of focus did. Johnson and Chandler are both veterans on this team, who lacked focus in a critical part of the game, and it will cost the Bills any chance they had at running the tables and making the playoffs. Once again, ball security is an issue for Johnson, and Chandler, who has been reliable during his time in Buffalo, is beginning to form that same stigma this season.
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