MatthewsL Bills 14 Lions 13

BOB’S TWEETBOOK: BILLS 14, LIONS 13

It wasn’t pretty, but it was a victory for the Bills Sunday at New Era Field.

The Las Vegas oddsmakers gave Buffalo some respect entering the game. The Detroit Lions were 8-1-1 against the point spread in their last 10 games against teams with losing records.

 The Bills were 4-9 at kickoff and favored by 3 points. Now they’re 5-9 outright and 5-9 against the point spread.

Here were some of my tweets during the game:

“I hope the Bills don’t plan to ground-and-pound with two back-up running backs and with the Lions focusing on containing Josh Allen’s running. The pressure is on Josh to win a gamer passing, isn’t it?”

“Buffalo’s two starting running backs BOTH are making their first NFL starts. I wonder how often that has happened in a Week 15 in NFL history.”

“Detroit 6, Bills 0. Game over?”

“Please throw a deep pass to loosen up the run defense. I know this sound simplistic but it seems logical to me. If it isn’t a completion, maybe you’ll get a pass interference.” (It happened a minute or so later...can’t always be wrong).

(A texter asked if Buffalo has a tight end) “I think I saw a uniform with CLAY on the field, but I’m not sure.”

“Zay Jones is a frustrating wide receiver to watch. And the Bills pretend he can be their No. 1 WR. Don’t think so.”

“It’s hard not to like Robert Foster.”

“This is one of the strangest boring games I’ve ever seen...Sort of interesting to see if the Bills run out of players.”

“If Keith Ford goes down, maybe Matt Barkley can play QB and move Josh Allen to RB.”( I was kidding)

(After Robert Foster’s game-winning TD catch) “Robert Foster TD. What a find. Good job by the Bills. Repeat: He was a No. 1 WR recruit at Alabama, got hurt early and never regained elite status on (Nick) Saban’s extraordinary depth chart.  He might be No. 1 in Buffalo soon.”

(After Detroit’s kicker Dean Prater missed a potential go-ahead field goal) “See you later (Dean) Prater. Thank you.”

(After Bills coach Sean McDermott went for a first-down instead of punting in the final minute) “That was quite a gamble (by McDermott). The Lions are out of timeouts but one completion could put Detroit in See-You-Later Prater range.”

(After a texter wrote that a loss would’ve been better for the Bills in terms of the college draft than a ‘meaningless’ victory) “You play the game to win. Thank goodness.”

A FEW FACTOIDS: ROBERT FOSTER COMPARED TO ZAY JONES

In two seasons with the Bills, Zay Jones has 72 receptions out of 154 targets...In 29 games, his most yards receiving was 93 against the New York Jets, November 11, 2018...He has six touchdowns.

In the nine games the Bills threw a pass to Robert Foster this season, he has 19 catches (out of 32 targets) for 468 yards and 2 TDs. He has three 100-yard performances in his last five games. His 24.63 yards per catch is tops in the NFL.

...THOUGHTS ON THE NFL

Just when you start thinking that maybe the Dallas Cowboys are a genuine Super Bowl 33 contender, they get embarrassed 23-0 at the Indianapolis Colts. Sorry, I’m not a Dak Prescott fan.

Dallas, Kansas City, New England and the Los Angeles Rams all lost Week 15. Tough league to figure.

Philadelphia, a 13 1/3 point underdog at the Los Angeles Rams Sunday night, won 30-23. It was the second-biggest upset this NFL season. Buffalo beat 17-point favored host Minnesota 27-6 Week 3.

NFL 2009 college draft order (as of the moment): Arizona No. 1, NY Jets No. 3, NY Giants No. 9 and Buffalo No. 10.

We’ve thought this many times before, but are the New England Patriots slipping fast? Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski looked old in Sunday’s loss at Pittsburgh, and the defense is slow and lacks playmakers.

Andrew Luck (Indianapolis) figures to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year in a landslide and deserves a few MVP votes, too. I am always amazed by immobile Ben Roethlisbergers’s ability to hang tough in the pocket and complete so many passes under pressure.

There seem to be quite a few reserve running backs making major contributions to their teams of late. Unfortunately, none yet for Buffalo.

Home cooking: New England, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Green Bay and Carolina are a combined 35-5-1 at home and 10-32 on the road.

I’m not surprised that rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has sparked Baltimore’s run for a playoff berth. But I agree that he’ll probably get knocked out of action because he runs so much. I touted Jackson as a draft pick for the Bills, but all things considered, I now prefer Josh Allen. Now if he can only improve on those short touch passes.

AMERKS HAVE DELIVERED...MAYBE THE FANS WILL RESPOND?

The Amerks are 18-7-2 and it isn’t a fluke. This is a talented, hard-working and well-coached team without a glaring weakness.

But where are the fans?

There might have been 2,500 faithful in Blue Cross Arena at the Community War Memorial for last Wednesday night’s 5-1 loss top Binghamton.

The announce4d home attendance was 4,035 for last Friday night’s 3-1 home win over the Cleveland Monsters. The Amerks beat host Cleveland 2-1 in overtime Saturday before an announced crowd of 9,290.

Rochester ranks 14th in the 31-team AHL in average home attendance at 5,093. That’s announced attendance and includes the announced crowd of 16,000 for the “home” game November 7 at Buffalo’s KeyBank Center.

Will the attendance pick up this week with home games against the Belleville Senators Wednesday (7:05 p.m.) and Friday (7:05 p.m.) and Saturday (5:05 p.m.) against the Hartford Wolf Pack?

CAN SYRACUSE U. RALLY AGAIN?

Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orange, coming off a surprising 68-62 home loss Saturday afternoon against the Old Dominion Monarchs, are 7-3 and looking nothing like a potential Sweet 16-type team. They’ve surprised their critics many times before, but this looks serious.

The biggest problem is shooting – particularly from three-point range.

SU’s field-goal percentage is poor (41.4 percent; 296th out of 351 major-college teams) and the three-point shooting has been pitiful (29.7 percent; 309th).

Here are the mostly sorry numbers from beyond the arch:

Tyus Battle 13-of-38

Oshae Brissett 13-of-45

Elijah Hughes 22-of-63

Carey 4-of-12

Frank Howard 6-of-29

Marek Dolezaj 3-of-7

Buddy Boeheim 6-of-29.

Centers Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe have attempted zero three-pointers, fortunately. They have a combined field-goal percentage of .632 but they’re not primary offensive weapons (24-of-38). But they’re important contributors at the back end of the zone defense.

Another problem is the lack of reliable scorers. Battle (18.5), Brissett (14.9) and Hughes (14.3) have combined for 47.7 of the team’s 71  points per game. The next highest scorer is freshman Jalen Carey at 6.4 points per game.

SU hosts the University of Buffalo Bulls, Tuesday, 8 p.m., at the Carrier Dome. The Bulls are 10-0 after a home victory Saturday over the Southern Illinois Salukis.

The Bulls shoot much better than the Orange (47.1 field-goal percentage and 33.5 field-goal percentage) and have more balanced scoring. Maybe SU’s zone defense will throw them off.

Syracuse could use a victory in this spot to build some momentum heading into the ACC schedule. It won’t be easy...and that’s no Bull.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Monday, December 17

Buddy Hield 25...Taylor Rogers 28...Craig Berube 31...Josh Barfield 36...Manny Pacquiao 40...Chase Utley 40...Takeo Spikes 42...Chuck Liddell 49...Vincent Damphousse 51...Michele Tafoya 54...Rocco Mediate 56...Albert King 59...Tammie Green 59. Milla Jovovich 43, Chris Matthews 73 and Pope Francis 82 are invited to the birthday party.

Tuesday, December 18

Byron Buxton 25...Chris Carter 32...Benjamin Watson 38...Peter Boulware 44...Arantxa Sanchez Vacario 47...Rob Van Dam 48...Joe Randa 49...Marco Colemanj 49...Bob Corkum 51...Don Beebe 54...Charles Oakley 55...Brian Oser 57...Bobby Jones 67....Ray Liotta 64...Hubie Green 72...Greg Landry 72. Christina Aguilera 38, Katie Holmes 40, Tris Stratus 43, Stone Cold Steve Austin 54, Brad Pitt 55, Steven Spielberg 72, Keith Richards 75 and Cicely Tyson 94 are invited to the birthday party. Ty Cobb was born on this date 132 years ago and died in 1969 at age 74.

Bob Matthews' Column

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