LANDOVER, Md. — It got real ugly, real fast for the Buffalo Bills Sunday at FedEx Field in all facets of the game. Coverage. Tackling. Gaining a first down. This looked like a team ready for vacation in the first half.
And while Buffalo rallied briefly in the second half, the damage was done as Buffalo lost, 35-25, to the Washington Redskins. Rex Ryan's defense was a sieve again --- his scheme not fitting the personnel. The offense self-destructed too often. And now the Bills head home for a pair of games to finish up the season, out of contention at 6-8.
A season so full of promise continues to unravel.
Player of the Game: After each touchdown, thousands at FedEx Field broke out into "You Like That!" chants. Kirk Cousins was in the zone Sunday, ripping the Bills for 319 yards on 22-of-28 passing with four touchdowns. He picked on cornerbacks Ronald Darby, Leodis McKelvin, Corey Graham and Bacarri Rambo all day long long, short and intermediate. This isn't the first time Rex Ryan's defense has been blistered by a quarterback not exactly considered top tier. Simply, this Ryan-led defense is broken and will need a full, busy off-season to fix. Ryan's scheme was never a fit for this personnel.
Play of the Game: There were many to choose from. But Cousins really broke this one open with a 77-yard scoring strike to DeSean Jackson. Safety Corey Graham, back turned, couldn't find the ball or make the tackle. Bacarri Rambo, point blank, missed a tackle. And Jackson raced upfield to give the Redskins a 28-3 lead. Graham may have a bunch of tackles and Rambo may have a knack for the turnover but they've struggled in coverage. Too many receivers were wide open Sunday. Cousins treated Sunday like a backyard football game, easily finding whoever he wanted.
Stat(s) of the Game: 1,114 yards, 10 touchdowns and two picks combined for the last four quarterbacks the Bills have faced --- Alex Smith, Sam Bradford, Brian Hoyer and Cousins. After flustering New England's Tom Brady in a road loss, it appeared Ryan's defense was turning a corner. Wrong. The unit regressed, sharply, against worse quarterbacks. So here the Bills are now, at 6-8.
Play-calling woes: It wasn't just the players on the field sputtering. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman had a string of questionable calls, particularly in the first half. At the Washington goal line, the shift LeSean McCoy was stuffed multiple times at the goal line before Taylor aired a fourth-down pass out of the end zone. And, for some reason, he turned to an option package with back-up quarterback EJ Manuel.
Three plays not enough on O: The Bills did come to life, briefly, in the second half with three big plays in a row. Mike Gillislee broke free for a 60-yard touchdown, Taylor found tight end Nick O'Leary for a 37-yarder and the quarterback found Sammy Watkins deep for a 48-yard score that cut the Washington lead to 28-17. Other than this, however, the Bills' offense anemic. And adding insult to injury, McCoy left the game with a knee injury.
Defense collapses: One maddening theme has stuck on defense. Whenever the Bills do come alive on offense and rally, the defense can't return the favor. They're unable to get a third-down stop when it's absolutely needed. When the Bills cut the lead to 28-17, they actually had Washington in a third and 16... and Cousins found Pierre Garcon for 19 yards. Soon after, the Bills had Washington in a third and 6... and Cousins hit a wide, wide, wide open Jamison Crowder for 12 yards. A few plays later, Cousins lobbed a touchdown to Garcon and this one was over.
Bruises and sacks: Taylor might be leaving the nation's capital with a limp. He was hit early and hit often in this loss. The Bills' quarterback was sacked five times in all with eight QB hits. He was far from perfect himself but it sure didn't help that Taylor was under siege much of the game.
Up Next: Matt Cassel was yanked by the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night, so it doesn't look like fans will even be treated to a "Cassel Bowl" of sorts. The 6-8 Bills will face the 4-10 Cowboys in a match-up of unfulfilled expectations.