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SERIOUS CONDITION
The offense flickered to life but poor defense and drafting dragged the Buffalo Bills to their 11th straight non-playoff season.

The Buffalo Bills missed the playoffs for an 11th straight season and finished in last place in the AFC East for the third straight year.

Here's a capsule look back at another painful year for Bills Nation:

>Best 3 Developments

1. Gailey knows offense. The Bills finished in the bottom eight of the NFL in yards gained for an eighth straight season. Ugh. There is a silver lining. Anyone watching the games could see the Bills' attack was well-coordinated. The Bills got the most out of their offensive talent, for the most part. There is good reason to think the Bills' long stretch of unwatchable offense -- from 2005 through the first two games of 2010 -- finally is over.

2. Receivers emerged. The Bills entered the season with the least proven receiving corps in the NFL. Now it is arguably the deepest position on the team. Stevie Johnson emerged as a legitimate No. 2 to No. 1 man Lee Evans. Roscoe Parrish's career was reborn. Big David Nelson was a huge asset in the slot. Donald Jones and Naaman Roosevelt produced. Fourth-round pick Marcus Easley comes back from injury next season.

3. Fitzpatrick to the rescue. Ryan Fitzpatrick gave the Bills their best production at quarterback since Drew Bledsoe's 2002 season. Is he ever going to outduel Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger or Philip Rivers in the playoffs? Probably not. But the Bills are a long way from crossing that bridge. At the worst, Fitzpatrick gives the Bills real hope of improvement next season.

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>Worst 3 Developments

1. The defense stunk. The Bills allowed the second most points in team history (26.5 a game) and the second most rushing yards in team history (169 a game). They need a major overhaul of the front seven.

2. Draft picks stunk. Aaron Maybin. Marshawn Lynch. Trent Edwards. John McCargo. James Hardy. Chris Ellis. Those are six picks from the top three rounds who either left the team this year or produced nothing. Meanwhile, it appears Donte Whitner will leave without justifying his lofty draft selection. First-rounder Leodis McKelvin still has a long way to go. Rookie first-rounder C.J. Spiller didn't do nearly enough. The lack of home-grown quality veterans is the reason the Bills are at the bottom of the barrel.

3. AFC East got tougher. New England keeps getting younger and better. The Jets have treated the Bills like rag dolls four straight meetings. Miami had a disappointing season but has a young, talented, dominant defense. The Bills have lost 15 of their last 18 in division.

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>Team MVP

Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick completed 255 of 441 passes for 3,000 yards, with 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 13 games as the starter. His quarterback rating of 81.8 ranked 22nd in the NFL

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>Best 3 plays

1. George Wilson's end-zone INT in Cincinnati. The Bills were down, 31-28, and Wilson returned it 56 yards to set up the go-ahead TD. Down, 31-14, at the half, the Bills won, 49-31, for their biggest comeback in 13 years.

2. David Nelson's 18-yard TD catch in the back of the end zone in Miami. Great throw by Fitzpatrick. Great catch by the rookie.

3. Fred Jackson's 65-yard screen-pass TD against Pittsburgh. A great run by Jackson and the longest play from scrimmage of the year.

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>Worst 3 plays

1. The drop in overtime. Stevie Johnson had a 40-yard TD catch go through his hands in overtime in what would have been a huge upset over Pittsburgh.

2. The holdup in Baltimore. Shawn Nelson was carried forward by Ravens defenders after a short catch then stripped of the ball, leading to the Ravens' overtime win.

3. The bomb that didn't go off. The Bills were leading Chicago, 19-14, with 9 minutes to go and Fitzpatrick had Johnson open on a deep route in the fourth quarter. The pass was underthrown. Chicago intercepted and rallied to win, 22-19.

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>Quote of the year

"Why so serious?"

-- Stevie Johnson played the "Joker" in thoroughly outshining Cincinnati's "Batman" and "Robin" duo of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco.

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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