1. Points again a problem for the offense
The Bills have shown an ability to stage long touchdown drives through the course of the 2019 season. Their only problem is they can’t seem to string enough of them together in a single game to put any distance between themselves and their opponent on the scoreboard.
Buffalo’s offense put together another long touchdown drive in the first half, but Josh Allen and company had little success after that until late in the game. It proved to be Buffalo’s undoing in a 19-16 loss at Cleveland.
“The fact is our defense played extremely well and gave us a chance,” said Josh Allen. “Everyone knows you have to score more than 16 points to win games in this league. We didn’t do that. We didn’t execute.”
The Bills did put together an 11-play drive that set up a chip shot field goal at the end of the half, but Stephen Hauschka hooked a 34-yard attempt wide left.
That was followed by four possessions in which the Bills gained a total of five first downs and just 97 total net yards. Three of those drives took place in what has proven to be Buffalo’s most unsuccessful quarter this season when it comes to scoring.
“We didn’t score enough points,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “There were some good things, but overall too many opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on. We had some third and manageables throughout the game and we didn’t come away with either a first down or points. So we had some penalties in there that also hurt us. We have to be a threat to score more points.”
Buffalo went scoreless in the third quarter as the Bills failed to convert at 3rd-and-4 with Josh Allen taking a sack. On their next series, Allen chose to go deep to Cole Beasley on a 3rd-and-3 when he was double-covered and overthrew the intended target. And then Allen missed John Brown when they went for it on 4th-and-4 resulting in a turnover on downs.
To his credit, Allen shouldered the responsibility.
“I need to do a better job of finding completions and getting the ball to our guys,” he said. “I have to connect on more of those deep shots and work on making more of those. This one kind of hurts because the preparation that we had was good and we had a good week of practice. There were times in that game where I’ve got to do better and put our offense in better situations to win games.”
Buffalo did stage a fourth-quarter touchdown drive to re-take the lead, but when the Browns answered, the Bills final drive with 1:48 left only reached the 35-yard line.
“Put the blame on me,” said Allen. “I didn’t play well enough.”
*2. Tre’Davious White outplays OBJ *It was the marquee matchup of the game and when it was all said and done, Tre’Davious White got the best of his cover assignment, Odell Beckham Jr.
“It looked like Tre’ did well,” said McDermott. “Odell is a tough matchup and Tre’ I thought he did some good things out there and battled.”
Targeted six times in the first half by Baker Mayfield, Beckham Jr. had just one reception for 16 yards. Mayfield targeted him on a fade pass in the right corner of the end zone, but White deftly raked the ball out for an incompletion.
He also almost pulled down an interception along the far sideline, when Mayfield overthrew Beckham Jr. late in the first half, but White couldn’t get his feet down inbounds. White also had another chance at an interception, but the ball got into his body too quickly for him to get his hands on it and it fell incomplete.
Beckham Jr. did make a catch in the third quarter when the Browns flooded White’s zone with a pair of receivers and the Bills corner had to play inside out. But on the whole White kept Beckham Jr. from making a difference in the game.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, White shadowed Beckham on 53 of Beckham’s 63 snaps. The only time he didn’t cover him was when Beckham Jr. lined up in the slot.
Per Pro Football Focus, White forced just as many incompletions (5) as Beckham had receptions (5) on 12 targets. The Browns top receiver finished with just 57 yards in the game.
“He did a good job,” said Tremaine Edmunds of White’s performance. “Tre’ is an outstanding player. I see him every day at practice. He’s a professional. He always wants to get better working on technique and things. His play (Sunday) spoke for itself.”
3. Hauschka laments misses
Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka came into Sunday’s game tied for the third-longest active streak in the league of made field goals under 40 yards at 44 straight. At the end of the first half, Hauschka’s streak came to an end as he hooked a 34-yard attempt wide to the left. It prevented the Bills from taking a one-point lead into halftime.
Hauschka had a shot at redemption in the waning seconds of the game as he was presented with a 52-yard attempt to tie the score and force overtime with Buffalo down 19-16. Unfortunately, Hauschka’s kick was short and fell to the left again, allowing Cleveland to escape with a victory.
“That was right at the edge of my range,” said Hauschka based on the game conditions and surface. “It was a little bit right to left wind. Need to do a bit better in that situation and help out the team.”
For Hauschka, who has come through more than once for the Bills, his performance was difficult for him to endure.
“It’s tough. This is one of the hardest things as a kicker,” he said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow and it hurts. My teammates are out there and giving everything they have and it hurts to let them down. I take it real personally. I’m always a hard worker, but I’ll be back to work this week and bring all my focus to help out the team.”
Coach McDermott expressed his unwavering faith in Hauschka after the game.
“We remain confident in him and that he’ll bounce back,” McDermott said.