CLEVELAND – The Buffalo Bills signed kicker Stephen Hauschka to a two-year contract extension before the 2019 season started with moments like Sunday in mind.
Trailing by three points against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium, Hauschka came onto the field with 22 seconds remaining. Convert a 53-yard field goal, and the Bills and Browns likely go to overtime.
It never had a chance.
Hauschka’s kick missed short and wide left, allowing the Browns to keep their season alive and the Bills to face a new set of questions about just how good they really are.
“It’s tough,” Hauschka said in a somber locker room after the game. “This is one of the hardest things as a kicker. It’s a tough pill to swallow. It hurts. My teammates out there are giving everything they have, and it hurts to let them down. I take it real personally.”
Hauschka said 53 yards was “right at the edge” of his range kicking toward the east end of the stadium. That direction was slightly into a right-to-left wind.
“Hit it ok. Not the way you need to hit it, though, from that distance,” Hauschka said. “Just didn’t really get all of it. Going in that direction, with a little bit of right-to-left wind, it’s just going to take it if you don’t hit it clean.”
The miss was Hauschka’s second of the game. He had a streak of 69 straight made field goals from 30-39 yards come to an end in the second quarter when he hooked a 34-yard attempt left going toward the same end of the stadium.
“I just didn’t start it right enough,” Hauschka said of that miss. “Overall, it wasn’t a great kick. … I’ve got to do better in those situations.”
It’s one that the Bills expect him to make. That’s why Hauschka was given a contract extension that could be worth up to $8 million.
Hauschka said after the game his confidence was not shaken, and that he’s been pleased with how he’s kicking the ball in practice.
“This is a learning experience,” he said. “It’s tough. I’m going to move through it.”
Hauschka is now just 8 of 13 on field goals this season, and 0 for 3 from 50-plus yards. After the final miss Sunday, head coach Sean McDermott sought out his kicker to deliver a message.
“Just remain confident and let him know that we we remain confident in him, and that we expect he’ll bounce back,” McDermott said.
2. The Bills’ go-ahead touchdown was almost scored by … Jon Feliciano. The Bills’ starting right guard was trailing the play when quarterback Josh Allen fumbled inside the Cleveland 10-yard line. Feliciano made an excellent play to recover the loose ball at the 1-yard line.
“I think it was a draw. I was just chasing Sheldon (Richardson), my dude,” Feliciano said. “Sheldon made him fumble. I was running after the ball and just picked it up.”
Allen has fumbled 11 times this season, tied for the most in the NFL, but the Bills have only lost three of them. Some of that is luck, of course, but Feliciano showed what can happen by staying with the play.
“We’re told to chase the ball and finish,” he said. “That’s what I did.”
3. New defensive tackle Corey Liuget made his Bills debut after signing with the team Tuesday. Liuget took a regular turn in the defensive tackle rotation with Jordan Phillips, Star Lotulelei and Ed Oliver.
Liuget finished with just one tackle, but it was a big one. He stopped Browns running back Nick Chubb for a 2-yard loss on fourth and goal from the Bills’ 1-yard line in the first quarter.
With Liuget active, the Bills made Vincent Taylor a healthy scratch. Taylor played in his first game with the team in Week 9 against Washington.
4. Welcome to the season, Robert Foster. The Bills’ receiver made his first catch of the season in the second quarter, gaining 20 yards. Foster was also targeted on a deep ball on the Bills’ first offensive play, but was interfered with by Browns cornerback Denzel Ward. The resulting penalty gave the Bills 35 yards.
With Foster active, the Bills went with the same five receivers as Week 9 – John Brown, Cole Beasley, Isaiah McKenzie, Foster and Andre Roberts. That meant Duke Williams was inactive for a second straight game.
5. Tight end Lee Smith’s issues with penalties continued. Smith was called for a false start in the third quarter and a hold in the fourth quarter. The Bills overcame the holding penalty and scored a touchdown on that drive, but had to punt on the drive in which Smith committed the pre-snap penalty. Smith leads the Bills with nine accepted penalties against.
6. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds sacked Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield in the third quarter for a safety. It was the first sack of the season for Edmunds, and the Bills’ first safety since a 37-5 loss to Indianapolis in Week 7 of the 2018 season.
Edmunds finished with three tackles and a pass defensed in addition to the sack.
“Yeah, I mean, it was good man, but our goal is to win,” Edmunds said of the safety. “Regardless of that play, we didn’t get the job done, so that’s my main focus. We’ve just got to get better, and we will.”
7. The Bills used top cornerback Tre’Davious White against Browns star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for most of the afternoon. The only exception was when Beckham went inside. In those situations, the Bills used a slot cornerback against him. Beckham finished the game with five catches for 57 yards. White led the Bills with four passes defensed.
“Odell is a tough matchup and Tre, I thought, -- again, without looking at the film – I thought he did some good things out there and battled,” McDermott said.
8. Jamestown native Stephen Carlson, who was signed to the Browns’ active roster from their practice squad on Nov. 1, got into the game against the Bills, but was not targeted in the passing game. Carlson, who made his first career NFL start in Week 9 against Denver, received a snap at fullback in the first half during the Browns’ failed attempt at the Buffalo goal line.
Akron’s JC Tretter, who signed a three-year contract extension with the Browns this week, started for Cleveland, as he has in every game this year.
9. The Bills’ remarkably good health continued Sunday. The team did not have any announced injuries, after coming into Week 10 without any players listen on their final injury report.
10. In addition to Williams and Taylor, the other healthy inactives were running back T.J. Yeldon, tight end Tommy Sweeney, offensive lineman Ryan Bates, guard Ike Boettger and safety Dean Marlowe.
Yeldon and Sweeney have been inactive since the Bills returned from the bye week, while Boettger has been active just once this season and Marlowe sat out as a healthy inactive for the first time since Week 1.
Story topics: Andre Roberts/ Cole Beasley/ Corey Liuget/ Dean Marlowe/ Ed Oliver/ Ike Boettger/ Isaiah McKenzie/ J.C. Tretter/ John Brown/ Jordan Phillips/ Robert Foster/ ryan bates/ Star Lotulelei/ Stephen Carlson/ Stephen Hauschka/ T.J. Yeldon/ Tommy Sweeney/ Tre'davious White/ Tremaine Edmunds/ Vincent Taylor