The Buffalo Game Examined: Blame It All on Jake?

n the since-closed "What-If" thread, at least one poster (James The Aussie) suggested that the loss in the game against the Bills should be "hung on Jake wholly."  Another poster, Flowing Willow, described Delhomme as "off all game."  However, I don't think either is the case.  There was plenty of blame to go around.  Below, I'll take a look at the team's offensive performance and how points left on the field by players whose name is not Jake Delhomme had as much to do with the loss as anything.


(Jake can't believe the lengths people have gone to trash his performance and ability.)


We went down 7-0 late in the first on a short-field TD following a Delhomme pick.  On the next drive, however, we drove all the way from our 15 to their 26 (a drive that included 27 yards rushing and 37 yards passing on 4-4 from Delhomme (hardly "off the mark"); the drive short-circuited after a penalty on Jeff Otah that took us from a 2nd-and-5 situation to 2nd-and-15.)  Count that 43-yard FG (not a gimme, but plenty makeable for John Kasay in nice weather and less than 10 MPH winds), and it's 3-7.  (Real score 0-7)

After an exchange of punts, we get a safety with 9:13 left on the clock.  5-7.  (Real score 2-7)

Another exchange of punts and we get the ball back at our own 10-yard line with 1:30 left in the half.  Delhomme starts this drive 0-3, but finishes 4-6, leading a drive to the Buffalo 21 on 12 yards rushing and 56 yards through the air.  Count that 38-yard FG, and we take an 8-7 lead into the half.  (Real score 2-7)

Now before you consider anything that happened in the second half, we had a 26:18 pass-run ratio in the first half (that's 1.44 standardized.)  In the second half, because we trailed for much of it, we had a 20:7 ratio (2.86) and were totally unable to control the clock, going from 22:20 in possession to 12:20.  The fact that we trailed rather than led totally changed our game management and playcalling.  Now, on to the second half (with a lead!)

Punts are exchanged until the Panthers get the ball with 9:21 left in the 3rd at their own 14.  Delhomme again drives the team down the field to the 13 with a 3-4, 67 yard performance, aided by just one rush for 6 yards.  However, on 4th-and-1 at the 13, we go for it and are stopped for a two-yard loss.  However, had Kasay been sharper earlier in the game or had we already held the lead, it's entirely possible we would have kicked the FG and gone up 11-7.  (Real score 2-7)

Buffalo then picked up 10 points on a TD following another Delhomme interception (that may or may not have been thrown had we been leading and calling a more conservative game) and an FG on a drive following a punt highlighted by a 50-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Lee Evans, who was covered by Chris Gamble at the time.  11-17.  (Real score 2-17) 

Immediately following the FG, we drive down the field again.  Delhomme is 4-6 with a sack for 68 total net passing yards in the drive (the first seven plays of the eight-play drive.)  The only run is a 15-yard TD on 4th-and-1.  18-17.  (Real score 9-17)

The next drive, we forced a punt, and with a lead, we could have reasonably gone a long way to running out the clock (and a victory.)  However, in real life, Kenneth Moore muffed the punt and it was recovered by Buffalo, leading to another FG and a 9-20 loss.

I know it's all speculation and what ifs, but I hope I've done enough to show that Delhomme (while he didn't have a great game) did enough to have us in the lead in the last ten minutes of the game.  Though he did turn the ball over (as he had a penchant to do this season), he was 15-23 (a 65.2 completion percentage) for 235 yards on these scoring (or "should-have-been scoring") drives, ranking at a 99.0 on the QB rating scale, a fine mark by anybody's standard.  Further, of his three interceptions, I believe at least one of his final two could have been avoided had the gamecalling been different.  The second came while we trailed in a game where the offense had put no points on the board despite at least three solid drives, and the third came in the last two minutes of the game as we desperately tried to make up a two-score deficit.


So what do you think?  Is the Buffalo loss truly the fault of Delhomme and no other player?  Was he truly "off the mark" for all or much of the game?  Or was Delhomme victimized by the poor execution of some of his teammates?

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