The Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers met in Charlotte, North Carolina for a football match on a hot and humid Sunday afternoon. The two teams seemed confused about what sport they were playing for most of the day. These blokes got caught up in a European soccer game, only exchanging fields goals, in an ugly 9 - 3 victory for the Panthers over the Bills in which the "foot" part of football was taken a bit to literally.
The game started off on the wrong track for each team. Both Buffalo and Carolina lost a yard on their first play from scrimmage on offense. Carolina quickly fixed this problem and learned how to push the ball forward. The Buffalo Bills did not. At one point in the game, Colton Schmidt had punted the ball five times, while Tyrod Taylor only had seven completions.
Buffalo's confusion did not stop with punting the ball almost as often as they completed passes. On a critical 3rd and 10 play, they threw the ball about eight to nine yards downfield, because who needs ten yards and a first down when you can punt instead?
While their offense was struggling, their defense kept the team in the game. On back to back plays in the second quarter they sacked Cam Newton (no relation to Olivia Newton-John) to knock Carolina out of field goal range, forcing a punt. The Bills finished the day with six sacks, officially harassing Newton enough that he is considering getting a restraining order.
The comparison between the two teams at half was ugly. Buffalo had under 7 minutes of possession while Carolina had over 23 minutes. Cam Newton had more completions (11) than Buffalo did net passing yards (6). The half closed with the Panthers up 6 - 0 and me on the edge of my seat wondering if beer would be a strong enough beverage or if I would need to step it up a notch to some Jack Daniels in the second half.
Beers - 4
Wings - 12
Noise complaints from wife - 0
Nose complaints from neighbors - 0
Carolina 6 - Buffalo 0
The second half opened up with a beer for me and possession of the football for the Bills. Buffalo started with two consecutive first downs, doubling their total from the first half in just two plays. I started to remember what a first down felt like to watch and fond memories of watching an offense move the ball came back to me but only shortly.
On the same drive, Buffalo went for it on fourth and one only to pitch it out wide rather than run it north-south. They didn't convert and I officially moved on from beer to a Jack and Coke. On the bright side of things, the Bills did move the ball into Carolina territory for the first time so maybe they were starting to remember that offenses are supposed to try to score.
At the end of the third quarter the Bills sacked Cam Newton and he got banged up on the play. He would disappear in to the magical blue tarp tent just like LeSean McCoy did last week. Like Shady, Newton also came out of the tent ready to play continuing the mystery of what is going on underneath that magical construction. It's unclear if there are side affects of going into the tent as McCoy finished the game with just 9 yards on 12 carries.
Just under four minutes into the fourth quarter, Buffalo remembered the purpose of the game, which is to score points, and finally notched their first of the afternoon on a field goal that bounced off the upright to make the game 6 -3. Someone needs to tell Steven Hauschka that you don't get additional points for a bank shot and to please not put me through that type of anxiety in the future.
Carolina's offense was mocking the Bills in the second half doing their best impression of them. At halftime, the Carolina offense had 193 yards. With eleven minutes left in the fourth they only had 194 yards yet still had the lead.
The Panthers would hit another field goal giving the Bills the ball back with 2 minutes and 35 seconds, trailing 9 to 3. A touchdown and a extra point would win the game despite how awful their offense had played all day.
On their last drive, Tyrod Taylor scrambled and was tackled with about 36 seconds left. Rather than calling a timeout, Sean McDermott let time tick. One can only assume that he was as sick as the rest of us were of watching this offense all day, and so he let 13 seconds run off the clock to spare us all the pain of seeing them on the field for that much longer.
To end the game, the Bills would fail to convert on a 4th and 11 pass to Zay Jones which was poorly thrown by Tyrod. It was an ugly afternoon for each team on offense. The difference was Carolina was able to move the ball despite their issues scoring, while Buffalo had trouble all afternoon advancing the football.
The loss knocks the Bills off their pace for 16-0 this season and now puts them on a path to mediocrity at 8-8 if they continue at their current pace. The Bills hopes for a perfect season are officially over. Let's just hope they can continue to soldier on for the remainder of the year.
End of game stats:
Beers - 5
Jack and Cokes - 2
Wings - 16
Noise complaints from wife - 0 (***She left before pass at the end to Zay Jones)
Noise complaints from neighbors - 0
Carolina 9 - Buffalo 3