Pitoniak: Bills making wrong kind of history

The Buffalo Bills have decided to stay on the West Coast because they have back-to-back games there. Probably a good thing because the way they are playing no one outside their immediate families would be welcoming them back to western New York. And they might want to give their Twitter accounts a rest this week because the tweets they may be receiving could be rather venomous.  

                A week after being obliterated by New England at the Ralph, the Bills traveled 3,000 miles to San Francisco only to be reminded that they remain light years removed from the NFL's elite. A very good 49ers team exploited Buffalo's many weaknesses on its way to a 45-3 rout at Candlestick Park.

                Once more, the Bills showed an inability to pressure the quarterback, cover receivers, tackle ballcarriers, gain yardage on the ground, protect the football and throw accurate passes.

                Last Sunday, Dave Wannstedt's crew became only the second defense in NFL history to allow a quarterback to throw for 300 yards, two runners to rush for more than 100 yards and two receivers to exceed the century mark in receiving yardage in the same game.

                So how did the vaunted Bills D respond to that humiliation?

                By being humiliated again.

                Folks, this defense isn't merely bad. It's historically bad, performing at a rate even worse than those horrid teams from the consecutive 2-14 seasons in the mid-1980s.     

                Sunday, the Bills became the first team since the 1950 New York Yanks (yes, there once was an NFL team called the Yanks) to be gashed for more than 550 yards in consecutive games. And they became the first team ever to allow a quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards in the same game that his team rushed for more than 300 yards.

                Alex Smith became the first Niners QB in 26 games to exceed the 300-yard passing mark. Frank Gore rushed for more than 100 yards. Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis had more than 100 receiving yards. And San Francisco finished with 621 yards. That's the most yards ever accumulated by the 49ers and the most ever allowed by the Bills.

                Last week, Tom Brady's bunch scored touchdowns on six of its final seven possessions, settling for a field goal on its final series.

                Sunday, the 49ers scored touchdowns on its final five possessions, giving credence to the theory that for a second straight game the Bills gave up in the second half.

                Oh, and did I mention that Mario Williams - he of the $100-million contract - had two tackles and zero sacks.

                A perplexed and agitated Chan Gailey shouldered the blame afterward, saying he needed to find some answers. "I've never been here before,'' he said. "So, I'm in new territory."

                Historically bad territory that has seen the Bills stung for 1,201 yards, 97 points and 62 first downs in two weeks.

                The offense wasn't much better. Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to be about as accurate as a drunken knuckleball pitcher in a wind tunnel. Once again, he misfired on several throws in which he had receivers open, including two potential touchdowns. His inability to deliver the deep ball makes you wonder if he even has an average NFL arm. None of his passes were as damning as the one picked off by San Fran defensive back Chris Culliver near the end zone early in the third quarter. Receiver Donald Jones never had a chance to compete for the ball because it was so badly underthrown.

                Interestingly, the Bills find themselves at 2-3, which is about where many of us expected them to be at this juncture. But the ugly nature of their last two losses makes you wonder if a season that began with so much promise is beyond salvation.

                Next up are the Arizona Cardinals, who are 3-1 and coming off an upset loss to the rapidly improving St. Louis Rams. The Cardinals will have 10 days to heal and prepare for the Bills.

                If Buffalo is going to prevent a repeat of last year when it went on a swoon that it couldn't recover from it's going to have to beat Arizona. Otherwise, the Bills will return home 2-4 with a game against Tennessee before the bye week and road games in Houston and New England.

                The embarrassing performances of the past two weeks are what get coaches fired and players benched or released.

                I still believe this team is more talented than it has shown. It's high time Williams and that much-hyped defensive line starts putting some pressure on the quarterback and bottling up runners. It's time for the young, but over-matched secondary to cover somebody; time for Wannstedt to prove that the game hasn't passed him by; time for Fitz to make smarter decisions; time for Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller to jump-start the run game; time for Gailey to show he has what it takes to be a successful NFL head coach.

                Otherwise, this team will keep repeating history, establishing numbers for futility never seen before.

                SCOTT'S REPORT CARD
                OFFENSE: Six punts, two turnovers and a measly field goal. No ground game to speak of and several more poor throws and poor decisions by Fitz. Grade: F.   
               DEFENSE: Six-hundred-and-twelve yards. No sacks. Thirty-one first downs. Need we say more? Grade: F.
                SPECIAL TEAMS: Leodis McKelvin had a 59-yard kickoff return, Shawn Powell averaged 47.7 yards per punt and pinned two inside the 20 and Rian Lindell converted his only field goal attempt. Grade: C-plus.
                COACHING: It's nice that Chan's shouldering the blame, but he and his staff need to find some answers in a hurry or they'll all be looking for new jobs after this season.  Grade:  F. 
               OVERALL: The Bills have been out-scored 97-31 the past two weeks and will face a rested, angry team next Sunday in Arizona. This game could make or break Buffalo's season. Grade: F.
                Nationally honored columnist and best-selling author Scott Pitoniak has followed the Bills since the late 1960s, covered them since the mid-1980s and written five books about their storied history. 

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