Bills-Buccaneers Preview

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

to swallow.”

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

season.

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

it.”

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.