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Tim Graham: Tyrod Taylor and the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad, record-breaking day

Tyrod Taylor's morning began with a car accident. Barely on his way to New Era Field, his black 2013 Mercedes G63 wagon was involved in a fender bender downtown. The Buffalo Bills sent a car to collect their quarterback.

Saturday's game against the Miami Dolphins also started poorly for him. The Bills went three and out on their first two possessions. Taylor passed three times, completing only one for minus-3 yards. The medical spotter thought Taylor might have taken a head shot and ordered a concussion exam. Backup quarterback EJ Manuel got loose.

Taylor's afternoon ended miserably, too. He watched Andrew Franks kick a 27-yard field goal to beat the Bills, 34-31, in overtime.

In between his junky start and depressing finish, however, Taylor quarterbacked the most prolific offensive game in Bills history and posted his best stats in the pros or college.

Buffalo gained a club-record 589 yards, breaking a record from the K-Gun era. Buffalo also had a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver for the first time since 2010.

"Statistically, yes, it was a good day," Taylor said. "But like I said from Day One, you're judged by wins as a quarterback."

The loss mathematically eliminated Buffalo from the postseason, but Saturday provided a glimpse of how Taylor might've excelled if Sammy Watkins hadn't missed eight games or Robert Woods hadn't missed three games or Marquise Goodwin hadn't missed two games or Walter Powell/Greg Salas/Percy Harvin hadn't gone to injured reserve.

Watkins, Woods and Goodwin were factors Saturday. Tight end Charles Clay, without a touchdown into December, has scored at least one in three straight games.

"We were able to make some of those explosive plays we haven't made that much this year," Taylor said. "That just shows when we have all our guys, all those weapons on the field at one time how explosive we can be."

Taylor completed 66.7 percent of his throws for a career-high 329 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He ran 12 times for 60 yards. His 389 total yards also are a personal-best and third in Bills history.

"This is probably the first time since college," Taylor replied when I asked the last time he was a part of an offense that hot.

But that's not true, even though he was ACC Player of the Year and broke Michael Vick's records at Virginia Tech. Taylor's best college games were 327 yards passing and 349 yards of total offense.

A knock on Taylor has been his inability to rally a team from behind. But with four minutes left in regulation and the ball on Buffalo's 11-yard line, Taylor conducted a go-ahead touchdown drive.

He threw a flea-flicker pass to Woods for 34 yards and, on fourth and 7, completed a low dart for Clay in the end zone to put Buffalo ahead by three points with 80 seconds left.

It wasn't Taylor's fault that sloppy defensive play, panicky moments that scrambled only 10 field-goal blockers onto the field and Rex Ryan's timeout plea that fell on deaf ears let Franks make a 55-yarder to force overtime.

Buffalo got the ball first and should have scored. Taylor completed two of his three attempts for 25 yards and, propelled by a 35-yard Mike Gillislee run, the Bills asked Dan Carpenter to kick a 45-yard field goal. That was asking too much.

Taylor's outburst came at a wonderful time for him. The Bills by March have a dicey decision to make on a contract option that will pay him $30.75 million in guarantees. They aren't expected to exercise the clause, but could re-sign Taylor at a reduced rate if he's willing.

If Taylor doesn't return, then Saturday's game will be used in negotiations on the open market.

Ryan named him the starter for next Sunday's season finale against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands.

"I'm just going to continue to keep playing with the same passion, approach each game with the same attitude as far as getting better," Taylor said of his future with Buffalo. "Those talks, those conversations are really out of my hands.

"All I can do is go out there and play football, and that's what I'm going to continue to keep doing."

Good times

Buffalo's 589 yards + Miami's 494 yards = 1,083 yards.

That's only 3 fewer yards than the Bills' record for combined distance. That was set Sept. 13, 1992, against the San Francisco 49ers, the illustrious No Punt Game.

Above average

Ready to read some large rushing numbers in a pass-oriented NFL?

Here are enough to choke a goat.

LeSean McCoy had 24 attempts for 128 yards and a touchdown. Gillislee ran 11 times for 91 yards. Taylor tacked on 60 yards.

So the Bills, having already set the club record this year, upped their season total to 28 rushing TDs. That's the most for any team since the Carolina Panthers scored 30 in 2008.

The Bills have rushed for 2,562 yards, fourth-most in team history. They won't break that record of 3,088 yards which was set in 1973.

McCoy (1,257), Taylor (580) and Gillislee (537) gave the Bills consecutive seasons with a 500-yard trio. Gillislee replaced Karlos Williams on this year's list. Prior to them, the Bills hadn't done it since 1962.


Buffalo's run defense yielded some historic ugliness Saturday.

Jay Ajayi rushed for 206 yards, making him only the third player in NFL history to run for over 200 yards twice against the same opponent.

O.J. Simpson did it against the New England Patriots in 1973. Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis did it against the Cleveland Browns in 2003.

Ryan's defense has allowed the three worst running performances in Bills history, including Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell's 236 yards in Week 14 and Ajayi's 214 yards in Week Seven.

Thanks, Obama

Buffalo has lost an NFL-worst six games in which they've scored at least 24 points, the most in club history. The most previously was four times in 2001 and 1986.

Among this year's defeats are both games against the Dolphins, one against the Jets (they'll play again on New Year's Day) and one against the Patriots.

So that's 0-4 against the AFC East when scoring 24 or more points.

Big if true

Heisman Trophy relinquisher Reggie Bush had one touch, and it was a problem.

On the opening overtime drive, Buffalo had second and 12 from Miami's 19-yard line. Buffalo called a pitch reverse to Bush, who was tackled for an 8-yard loss. Two plays later was Carpenter's 45-yard miss.

Bush's loss put him back into negative rushing yardage for the year. A 3-yard day Dec. 4 put him in positive territory. He entered Saturday with 5 yards.

He's at 12 carries for minus-3 yards with one game left.

Not since 1961 has a nonquarterback finished a season with negative yards on at least nine carries.

Can I get a retweet?

There's a new Hittner in town.

First, we had the much-loathed former Bills hammerhead Donte Whitner, who planned on changing his last name to "Hitner" before simply referring to himself as such on Twitter and whatnot.

Then we learned the head linesman who didn't give Buffalo a timeout when Franks kicked his game-tying 55-yard field goal was none other than Mark Hittner.

We good here?

Some might say it's the same as it ever was.

Others might claim it's worse than it ever has been.

Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula have some important decisions to make about a franchise that has gone 17 straight seasons without a playoff appearance.

Fun games and nail-biting finishes aren't enough. Winning is all that counts.

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