The Buffalo Bills’ offense is almost better at giving away points than scoring them.
Buffalo gifted the opponent 17 more points off turnovers in Sunday’s 41-9 loss to the Chicago Bears.
That brings the nine-game total to 74 points off turnovers by the Bills’ opponents. Last year’s 16-game total by Bills’ foes was only 55 points off turnovers. Buffalo has scored only 96 points this year.
Clearly, the Bills’ offense is not good enough to give away points.
“Very frustrated with just the fundamentals of what went on in the game in terms of turning the ball over and giving them field position,” said Bills coach Sean McDermott. “It’s tough to win a game when you do that.”
The Bills have won the turnover battle in only two games – their victories over Minnesota and Tennessee.
The Bills are minus-9 for the season in turnover ratio, and they’re minus-14 in their seven defeats.
Chicago, by contrast, has yet to lose the turnover battle in any of its eight games. The Bears are plus-10 in turnover ratio, tied for second best in the NFL.
“I cannot begin to tell you how good this defense is,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “They’re a really good defense, and our guys knew that all week long: We talked about bringing a lunch pail all week.”
Turnovers in the second quarter decided the game. The breakdown:
1. Fuller jumps Jones. Bears veteran cornerback Kyle Fuller made the play of the game late in the second quarter, jumping a short slant pass for Zay Jones.
The pass from Nathan Peterman was not on target. It was on Jones’ back shoulder, not his front shoulder, and Fuller hit Jones from behind just before the ball arrived. The ball caromed into the arms of Leonard Floyd, who returned it 19 yards for a touchdown.
The Bears were up, 21-0.
Why no pass interference penalty? Because Jones was between the 18 and 19 when Fuller hit him.
“They said the DB could hit the receiver within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage, and they felt like it was within 1 yard,” McDermott said of the explanation he got from the referee.
It was a good no-call by the officials.
“It was third and short, they were possibly trying to get it out quick,” Fuller said. “I was squeezing on the inside route, being in position at the same time when the ball was there . . . and Floyd was in great position.”
Jones was lined up wide right, with tight end Jason Croom inside of him in the slot. Croom ran to the flat, creating potential interference for Fuller. But Fuller was ready for the rub route and quickly skirted above Croom, anticipating the short pass for Jones.
“I had a good feeling of it,” Fuller said. “Then once the play starts you just naturally do what you feel. I was able to slip inside and make a play.”
2. Strip, fumble, touchdown. The Bears had taken a 14-0 lead just 3:43 earlier when safety Eddie Jackson stripped Croom after a 1-yard completion and returned the fumble recovery 65 yards for a touchdown.
The pass was to the right flat. Croom bobbled it then gained control. But Jackson was in tight coverage. The safety held Croom up, and as linebacker Roquan Smith applied a hit from behind, Jackson raked the ball out.
“They do a lot of flat routes with the tight end, especially when he goes out for a little check-down,” Jackson said. “We kinda played it with a guy over the top. I saw him bobble it a little bit. He was trying to fight me standing up. And then Roquan came out of the pack and made a great tackle. I stripped it out. Fun, man.”
“It was pretty much a dialed-up blitz,” Smith said. “So I blitzed and the ball was thrown, so I came out of the pile and just started chasing the ball. Good things happen when you run to the ball. It was a hell of a play by Eddie.”
3. Bobble, interception. Peterman’s first interception did not directly lead to points but put the Bills in bad field position in the second quarter, with the Bears ahead, 14-0.
Peterman had Kelvin Benjamin open on a shallower route, but opted to throw to Terrelle Pryor on a 15-yard in-cut. The throw was a fraction late and didn’t have a lot of steam on it. Pryor bobbled it into the arms of safety Adrian Amos at the Buffalo 39.
“I had a ball in my hand, almost damn near, and the guy hit the ball and the ball popped up,” Pryor said. “So I have to make sure I have that grab. We can’t fumble the ball.”
4. Bears get ball rolling. The Bears’ first touchdown came after they converted a third-and-15 situation at the Buffalo 42 on the first play of the second quarter. Tight end Trey Burton ran a crossing route and caught a 26-yard pass to the Buffalo 16.
The Bills were in zone coverage, and the linebackers probably didn’t get enough depth in their drops, making the throw from Mitch Trubisky easier.
“They were in Cover 3, so they had three guys playing deep in the field, and I just ran in between two of the three,” Burton said. “It was a great throw by Mitch. He found the zone and put it perfectly where I needed to be.”