Key turnovers last week saw the Buffalo Bills’ slim playoff
hopes all but evaporate.
Untimely giveaways also cost the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a shot at
a four-game winning streak.
Both will look to take better care of the ball in Sunday’s
meeting in Tampa Bay.
The Bills (4-8), who are 1-4 on the road, coughed up the ball on
their final two possessions of Sunday’s 34-31 overtime loss to
Atlanta in Toronto, all but guaranteeing their NFL-worst 14th
straight season without a postseason appearance.
A 14-yard pass from E.J. Manuel to Stevie Johnson would have set
up Buffalo on Atlanta’s 30-yard line with less than 30 seconds to
play in regulation, but Johnson fumbled. Tight end Scott Chandler
followed that by fumbling on the second play of scrimmage in
overtime, leading to Atlanta’s game-winning field goal.
It was the Bills’ fourth loss in five games and fourth defeat
this season by seven points or fewer.
“We’ve got to learn how to win close games. We’ve got to learn
how to win games on the road. We’ve got to finish teams,” coach
Doug Marrone said on Monday. “It was tough this morning. It’s tough
Buffalo is tied with Tampa Bay – and Houston – for the league’s
most losses via blown leads with seven.
The Buccaneers (3-9) had seemed to turn a corner with three
straight wins following an 0-8 start, but last Sunday’s 26-7
setback at Carolina guaranteed Tampa Bay a third consecutive losing
The Buccaneers finished with 206 yards of offense, their fewest
since gaining 166 in a loss at Dallas on Sept. 23, 2012. Coach Greg
Schiano didn’t think facing Carolina’s top-ranked scoring defense
was a valid excuse.
“They’re playing at a high level right now, yet I thought there
were plenty of opportunities, especially early in the game to kind
of set the course of the game where we’d be able to make it a
fourth-quarter game,” he said. “We didn’t take advantage of
At the crux of Tampa Bay’s problems was an ineffective
performance from rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, who seemed to
regress a bit. In making his ninth start, Glennon failed to throw a
touchdown for the first time and was intercepted and lost a fumble,
marking his first multi-turnover performance since his first start
on Sept. 29 against Arizona.
“He did some things (Sunday) that he hasn’t done,” said Schiano,
whose team has won two in a row at Raymond James Stadium after
starting 0-4 there. “I think part of it has to do with the defense.
He was trying to make something happen.”
Another part of Glennon’s struggles might have been the lack of
a running game. The Buccaneers were held to 66 yards on the ground
a week after being limited to a season-low 22 against Detroit. They
had averaged 177.0 yards in the three previous games.
Tampa Bay might find it much easier to run against a Buffalo
defense that gave up 151 rushing yards to Atlanta, which owns one
of the league’s worst running games.
The Bills’ own ground attack came alive for 195 yards against
the Falcons after gaining 95 yards or fewer in four of their
previous five games. C.J. Spiller ran 15 times for a season-high
149 yards after totaling 29 in his previous two contests.
“It was great, but like I said going in to the game, each week
is different,” Spiller told the team’s website. ” … Just had
another good running day, but this team (Tampa Bay) is going to be
ready and you can take some good away from the tape and see what
you’ve done well, but we just have to take what they give us.”
Tampa Bay has allowed an average of 139.7 rushing yards in its
last three games.
The Buccaneers are hopeful Darrelle Revis will be able to play
after he practiced Wednesday. He left Sunday’s contest with what
Schiano described as an “upper torso” injury.
Tampa Bay owns a 6-3 all-time series edge, though Buffalo
claimed a 33-20 home victory in the last meeting in 2009. Fred
Jackson, who is 136 yards shy of joining Thurman Thomas and O.J.
Simpson as the only players in team history with 5,000 rushing
yards, ran for 163 yards on 28 carries.