Matthews: The Bills Loss Was Bitter

THIS BILLS LOSS WAS BITTER-TWEET...

BUFFALO UP TO THIRD IN TOTAL DEFENSE...OFFENSE? LET’S PASS ON THAT

What a waste of a terrific defensive effort by the Buffalo Bills in Sunday’s 20-13 loss to the Houston Texas.

The Bills improved to third in the 32-team NFL in total offense, allowing only 311.7 yards per game. Only Baltimore (270.8) and Jacksonville (306.5 are better).

Unfortunately, Buffalo’s offense ranks 31st in total offense and 32nd in pass offense and scoring (12.7 points per game).

Here’s my sad blow-by-blow account of a sort-of wasted beautiful autumn afternoon:

“Bob’s pick: Houston 30, Buffalo 15. Texans pass rush the biggest reason.”

(After Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins made a great catch for a 7-0 Houston lead): ”How terrific is he? Who is better?”

(After Buffalo QB Josh Allen extended a play with his legs and ran for a first down: “I don’t think Eli (Manning) could’ve done that.”

“At this point, Josh Allen’s legs are more effective than his arm.”

“I think Josh Allen barking at the zebras isn’t quite as intimidating as when Brady or Rodgers does it.”

“I want to see LeSean McCoy catch some passes.”

(After rookie Ray-Ray McCloud III lost a fumbled punt): “Ray-Ray can’t afford many more muffs like that.”

“Not exactly a great quarterback duel out there today.”

 “The Bills are still very much in this game despite a 10-0 halftime deficit.”

“Could (coach) Sean McDermott be pondering a QB switch to Nathan Peterman? Hope not, but he might be a spark.”

 (After a field goal cut the gap to 10-3): “Three more field goals = 12-10 Bills victory.”

(After another field goal cut the gap to 10-6:) “Two more Bills field goals + 12-10 win.”

“When the Bills lose the special teams battle, they have NO chance.”

After sub QB Nathan Peterman threw a nice TD pass to give the Bills a 13-10 lead: “Who needs field goals? Buffalo 13, Houston 10.”

(When Buffalo’s pass rush started to get to QB Deshaun Watson): “When protecting Watson’s ribs should be a priority, Houston’s offensive line is doing a terrible job.”

“Some NFL analysts insist that offensive lines are the league’s overall weakest unit. The Texans and Bills are doing their best to validate that opinion.”

“My unofficial updated NFL offensive line rankings: Bills 30th...Giants 31st...Texans 32nd.”

“Allow me to slip in Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s 2018 passing line: 88-of-123 (.715 completion percentage) for 1,760 yards passing; 14.3 yards per attempt; 21 TD passes; 0 interceptions.”

“All in all, this has been a tough game to watch.”

“Sorry, if you like defense, this hasn’t been a bad game.”

“Nathan ‘Dennis Eckersley’ Peterman: Maybe he’s a better reliever than a starter.”

“I don’t imagine Houston’s fans are real happy about their team’s offense, either.”

“How about starting a possession with a deep pass throw to...um, oh...maybe not such a great idea.”

(After Peterman’s first disastrous pick-six interception turned a 13-13 tie into the final 20-13 deficit): “Ooopps. Forget every positive thing I tweeted today about Peterman.”

(When Peterman was tossing short passes in the middle of the field with 70 yards to go, no timeouts left and under a minute to play): “What are the Bills doing? Oh, I forgot. No deep threats to target and Peterman doesn’t throw a good deep ball.”

(After Peterman’s second INT sealed the deal): “An appropriate finish.”

“Nathan Peterman’s NFL career so far, at least; maybe forever? 6 games; 35-of-79 (.443 completion percentage) for 337 yards; 4.27 yards per attempt; 3 TD passes; 9 interceptions.”

A CLASSIC SHOOTOUT: PATRIOTS 43, CHIEFS 40

Sunday night’s prime-time game was a beauty. The ratings should be great. New England outlasted Kansas City 43-40.

The two teams showed how much the Bills need to improve to become an NFL powerhouse.

There have been 17 games in the NFL since 1980 when the over/under (total points by both teams) was at least 57 ½ -- including two on Sunday: Kansas City at New England (59 ½) and Tampa Bay at Atlanta (57 ½).

Both games rewarded “over” bettors: KC/NEng 83 points and TBay/ATL 63 points.

Of the 17 over/under games of at least 57 ½ points since 1980, 13 went “over”, 3 went “under” and there was one push.

...AROUND THE NFL...

The Los Angeles Rams (6-0 after a 23-20 win in Denver Sunday) are the only unbeaten team left this NFL season. Since 2000, only one last-unbeaten-team-in-a-season to go to win a Super Bowl was the 2006 Indianapolis Colts. They started 9-0.

The Baltimore Ravens (4-2 record after a 21-0 road win over Tennessee; four of next five games at home) could be a good model for the Buffalo Bills. The Ravens lead the NFL in defense and sacks and don’t make many mistakes. One thing Baltimore has and the Bills do not have – an underrated pass offense.

Tennessee followed up the Week 5 loss at Buffalo with the 21-0 home loss to Baltimore. The Titans allowed 11 sacks in the franchise’s first home shutout defeat since December 11, 1976. Tennessee next plays the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday in London. Fortunately for the Titans, they play in the weak AFC South and are tied for the division lead with a 3-3 record.

Adam Thielen (Minnesota) this week at the New York Jets will try to join Charley Hennigan in 1961 as the only AFL/NFL players to have seven consecutive 100-yard receiving games to start a season.

There has been nine overtime games this season after Miami’s 31-28 win over Chicago. There has been at least one OT game in each of the first six weeks this season. That’s a record.

Updating winning rends: Teams scoring first are 54-36-2...Teams winning the turnover battle are 54-14-7...Teams with the most rushing yards are 65-25-2...Teams leading in time of possession are 65-25-2.

EARLY LAS VEGAS ODDS FOR NFL WEEK 7...BILLS +6 ½ AT INDY

Thursday – Denver at Arizona + ½...Sunday – Buffalo at Indianapolis -6 ½...Tennessee at LA Chargers -6 ½...New England at Chicago +2 ½...Detroit at Miami no line...Carolina at Philadelphia -3 ½...Cleveland at Tampa Bay -3..Minnesota at New York Jets +3...Houston at Jacksonville -4 ½...New Orleans at Baltimore -2 ½....Cincinnati at Kansas City -6 (changed to 8:20 start; good move)...Dallas at Washington -2...LA Rams at San Francisco +10 ½...Monday Night Football – New York Giants at Atlanta -5.

THOUGHTS ON BASEBALL

++It didn’t take long to establish the New York Yankees as the favorite to sign free-agent shortstop Manny Machado this offseason. Didi Gregorius will be sidelined indefinitely at the start of the 2019 season while recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery. Second baseman Gleyber Torres could move from second base but Machado is better defensively.

++Houston star second baseman Jose Altuve obviously is hurting. Considering his sore knee and shortstop Carlos Correa’s balky back, the Red Sox might have a chance to upset the Astros in the ALCS after all.

KNIGHTHAWKS ALL-TIME TEAM TO BE PICKED BY FANS...

WILL BE SALUTED IN A CEREMONY AT HOME OPENER DECEMBER 8

The 25th anniversary season of the National Lacrosse Rochester Knighthawks will open Saturday, December 8 at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial.

The festive evening will feature a salute to the 20-man All-Time Knighthawks Team: 10 forwards, 8 defensemen/transition players and 2 goalies. The dream team will be selected on-line by the fans – one ballot per person, e-mail address or household. In other words, no ballot stuffing.

The voting is underway at the K-hawks Web site and iHeartMedia’s 107.3 The Bull Web site. Voting ends Tuesday, November 6, 4:59 p.m. The All-Time Team will be announced November 8.

Here’s my ballot:

Forwards--  John Grant Jr., Dan Dawson, Shaun Williams, Cody Jamieson, Shawn Evans, Tim Soudan, Paul Gait, Curt Malawsky, Mike Accursi, Cory Vitarelli.

Defensemen/transition – Regy Thorpe, Steve Toll, Mike Hasen, Graeme Hossack, Marshall Abrams, Scott Campbell, Stephen Hoar, Randy Mearns, Chris Schiller, Sid Smith.

Goalies – Matt Vinc, Pat O’Toole.

BRISSETT, BUDDY BOERHEIM SHARP IN SU PUBLIC SCRIMMAGE

Sophomore Oshae Brissett scored a game-high 28 points and freshman Buddy Boeheim had 17 points, including four 3-point field goals in Syracuse U. basketball’s annual pre-season orange-and-white white scrimmage in the Carrier Dome Friday night.

Senior guard Frank Howard sat out the scrimmage with his injured left foot in a walking boot, sophomore guard Howard Washington is recuperating from knee surgery and freshman guard Jalen Carey suffered a sprained ankle during the game.

Former McQuaid star forward Isaiah Stewart, ranked by ESPN.com as the No. 4 senior high school recruit and currently playing in Indiana, reportedly visited SU over the weekend. He’d be the perfect replacement for Brissett, who could declare for the 2019 NBA draft.

New York state’s all-time high school basketball scorer Joe Girard III, a junior at Glens Falls High School, committed to SU over the weekend. The excellent 3-point shooter chose the Orange over Duke, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and Boston College. He’s also his high school’s star quarterback/defensive back.

SU will play home exhibition games versus Saint Rose October 25 and versus Le Moyne October 31.  The regular season starts November 6 versus Eastern Michigan.

THUMBS UP TO THE AMERKS

The Rochester Americans opened this AHL season with two straight home losses before disappointing (and disappointed) crowds. But they’ve bounced back impressively with three straight wins, including a two-game road sweep of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers over the weekend.

The Amerks play Wednesday at the Utica Comets )led by AHL leading scorer Reid Boucher: 8 goals in 5 games). and return to Blue Cross Arena Friday against the Toronto Marlies.

Amerks leading scorer Victor Olofsson  (3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points in 5 games) is no surprise. The 23-year-old right wing led the Swedish Hockey League with 27 goals in 50 regular-season games last season.

SHORT SHOTS

Baseball’s No. 1 prospect, Toronto Blue Jays probable 2019 Opening Day third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., in his first three games in MLB’s Arizona Fall League: .643 batting average (9-for-14); 4 doubles; 1 walk; 1 strikeout; 1.595 OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage).

The Syracuse Crunch, in their 25th AHL season, have signed a 12-year lease to continue playing at the War Memorial Arena through the 2029-30 season. Onondaga County recently approved $8.5 million in improvements to the arena.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Monday, October 15

Ray-Ray McCloud III 22...Jakob Proeltl 23...Duke Wiliams 28...Athony Joshua 29...Blaine Gabbert 29...Vlad Ducasse 31...Aaron Afflalo 33...Steve McKinney 43...Fred Holberg 46...Joe Klecko 65...Roscoe Tanner 73...Willie O’Ree 87.  Sarah Ferguson 59, Tanya Roberts 63 and .Penny Marshall 75 and Lee Iacocca 94 are invited to the birthday party. Boxing legend John L. Sullivan, the first recognized heavyweight champion, was born on this date 160 years ago (1858) and died in 1918 at age 59.

Tuesday, October 16

Naomi Osaka 21...Bryce Harper 26...Sue Bird 38...Reg Kerr 61...Paul Kariya 44...Kordell Stewart 46...Chris Doleman 57...Val Skinner 58...Wilf Paiement 63...Rich Caster 70...D.D. Lewis 73...Tim McCarver 77. Tim Robbins 60, Suzanne Somers 72 and Angela Lansbury 93 are invited to the birthday party.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

October 15

95 years ago (1923), the Yankees won their first World Series 4 games to 2 over the New York Giants...85 years ago (1933), the Philadelphia Eagles played their first NFL game and lost 56-0 to the New York Giants...54 years ago (1964), U.S. sprinter Bob Hayes won the men’s 100-meter gold medal  at the Tokyo Olympics...48 years ago (1970), the Baltimore Orioles beat the Cincinnati Reds, 4 games to 1, in the 67th World Series...38 years ago (1980), Kansas City’s George Brett was forced out of the World Series with hemorrhoids...29 years ago (1989), Wayne Gretzky passed Gordie Howe as the NHL’s all-time scorer...23 years ago (1995), the Carolina Panthers played their first NFL game and beat the New York Jets 26-15.

October 16

109 years ago (1909), Jack Johnson KOd Stanley Ketchel in 12 for the heavyweight boxing title...69 years ago (1949), Red Bryon won the first NASCAR Sprint Cup...56 years ago (1962), the Yankees won their 20th World Series, 4 games to 3 over the San Francisco Giants...50 years ago (1968), Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave their famous black power salute on the 200m medal podium during the Mexico City Olympics...49 years ago (1969), the 100-to-1 New York Mets beat the Baltimore Orioles to win the 106th World Series in five games...31 years ago (1987), Mike Tyson KOd Tyrell Biggs in 7 for the heavyweight boxing title.

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