With a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start against the number one defense in the league in points allowed, sacks and third down Buffalo had a shot at handing the 8-0 Kansas City Chiefs their first loss of the season. For the second straight week turnovers proved costly. All three of Buffalo's turnovers led to 17 points for the Chiefs in a 23-13 win over the Bills.
"We knew coming in that this team scored a lot of points off turnovers," said Bills head coach Doug Marrone. "They're an 8-0 football team, 9-0 now and we're 3-6. When it's time to make the plays you have to make the plays and we didn't do that."
Buffalo had the lead for the entire first half, but a third-quarter Jeff Tuel interception thrown on the Kansas City goal line was returned 100 yards for a score by Chiefs' CB Sean Smith to tie the game early in the second half at 10.
"It's very frustrating, especially to come out in the second half," said Tuel. "First big play was C.J. (Spiller), put a drive together, get right down there and then literally a complete other direction. It's just a huge momentum shift. Just something that I could've prevented from happening."
"Situationally do you question the play call? No," said Marrone. "Do you question the execution of it? Yes. Should we go in there and try to keep it and run and work on it. It's a play that in the field you pull it and throw it, a lot of times down the goal line we don't pull it and throw it so we've got to do a better job coaching it."
T.J. Graham was also stripped of a reception at his own 11-yard line a short time later and Tamba Hali returned the fumble recovery 11 yards for another touchdown to put Kansas City up seven with 12 minutes remaining (20-13). It proved to be all the points that the Chiefs would need, though they added an insurance field goal with just over two minutes left in the game.
The Bills relied on a ground attack that was the most productive it's been all season as a rejuvenated C.J. Spiller teamed with Fred Jackson and Tashard Choice to pound out a season-high 241 rushing yards. It helped to set up play action for Tuel, who was moving the offense and converting third downs early in the game. Buffalo went 4-6 on their first six third down attempts, but failed to convert their last seven in the game.
Doug Marrone: "This one hurts"
Tuel appeared to have more trouble stringing together positive plays as the game wore on. He completed 18-39 passes for 229 yards with a touchdown and two INTs.
The Bills defense was also stout for most of the game holding Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs rushing attack to under 100 yards rushing, and just one red zone possession which led to a field goal. All told Kansas City's offense managed just three field goals in the game.
"We've just got to keep working," said Mario Williams. "You can't get frustrated. We need to get more turnovers on defense and get better field position for our offense and capitalize on opportunities more when we get them."
"I knew they had a great defense coming in, if not the best one we've played thus far, surely one of the best ones," said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. "So I knew everybody was going to have to contribute, both sides of the ball and special teams."
With the first possession of the second half, C.J. Spiller sparked the offense on the first play from scrimmage ripping off a 61-yard run to the Chiefs 19-yard line. A pass interference penalty on Kansas City then set up Buffalo on the Chiefs one-yard line. After two failed attempts to reach the end zone on a pair of Fred Jackson carries, Jeff Tuel dropped back to pass on 3rd-and-goal and his throw on a slant to T.J. Graham was intercepted by Sean Smith.
Kansas City had an all-out blitz call on, so Tuel had to deliver the ball quickly. Smith dropped off his coverage assignment of Stevie Johnson and ready Tuel's eyes. After picking off the pass he returned it 100 yards for a touchdown for a 14-point swing on the scoreboard tying the game (10-10) early in the third quarter.
"It was zero coverage all out (blitz)," said Tuel. "One-hundred percent my fault, something I've got to see. I can't do that. We've got to finish with a kick no matter what, whether it's an extra point or a touchdown or field goal. So it's 100 percent on me."
The Chiefs followed with a field goal drive to take their first lead of the game as Ryan Succop put a 41-yard attempt between the uprights after Kansas City's defense stopped Buffalo on a 4th-and-2 attempt at the Chiefs' 37-yard line with 3:57 left in the third.
Buffalo responded with a field goal drive of their own. Mixing the run and pass a bit more C.J. Spiller took a swing pass 27 yards down into Kansas City territory going out of bounds at the 25-yard line. The Bills would only get as far as the Chiefs 12-yard line, when a miscommunication between Marquise Goodwin and Scott Chandler led to an incomplete pass and a Dan Carpenter 30-yard field goal to tie the game at 13 at the close of the third. But it was as close as Buffalo would get as the Chiefs outscored them 10-0 in the final quarter.
The game began well for Jeff Tuel, who made his first NFL start. The undrafted quarterback completed four of his first six passes and on his seventh pass attempt he hooked up with fellow rookie Marquise Goodwin for a 59-yard touchdown. Goodwin got behind the corner and the safety and Tuel dropped the ball over his shoulder in stride for a 7-0 first quarter lead.
C.J. Spiller: "We still lost and that's all that matters"
"When I threw it he wasn't looking yet and I was just saying just look," said Tuel. "I just wanted him to make sure he just looked up and found it. That was my only concern because I felt like it was a good throw."
On Buffalo's next possession however, Tuel's pass intended for Scott Chandler sailed on him and Kendrick Lewis picked it off for an interception at the Chiefs 41-yard line. The Bills defense was able to keep Kansas City out of the end zone, but Ryan Succop put the Chiefs on the board with a 27-yard field goal to make it 7-3 midway through the second quarter.
The Bills would tack on a field goal before the half was over as a 29-yard C.J. Spiller run set Buffalo up at the Chiefs 16-yard line. Buffalo was unable to crach the end zone against one of the league's best red zone defenses settling for a 26-yard Dan Carpenter field goal to make it 10-3 at the half.
With the loss the Bills fell to 3-6 on the season as they've dropped four of their last five games. Buffalo is back on the road next Sunday to face the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 1 pm kickoff.
Wide receivers injuredBuffalo lost rookie wide receivers Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin to leg injuries. X-rays on Woods' injured left leg were negative. Goodwin suffered a hamstring injury. Both players will be re-evaluated on Monday.