The Buffalo Bills had the ball with a chance to tie the game. And like other games this season where they had a chance to tie or win a game late in the fourth quarter, the Bills couldn't convert.
Indianapolis defeated Buffalo 20-13 Sunday, thanks to steady play from quarterback Andrew Luck, a punt return for a touchdown and the Bills' ineptitude on offense.
There is a lot to cover this week, so let's get to it.
Here is this week's Buffalo Bills report card:
GRADING THE UNITS
OFFENSE - D
I'll start with the positives. C.J. Spiller had a great game, even though he only touched the ball 15 times -- 14 rushes and one catch. He had more than 100 total yards again and when he touched the ball, he made plays. The Bills needed to get him the ball more and in a one or two-score game, there's no excuse for it. He should have touched the ball 20 or 25 times. He didn't. That's Chan Gailey's fault.
The other bright spot: Stevie Johnson. Johnson had six catches for 106 yards. He also made one of the plays of the game. After Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception, Johnson chased down the Indianapolis defensive back, forced a fumble and recovered the fumble. Even though the Bills didn't convert on the following possession, it was a big play by Johnson. His hustle and effort kept the Bills in the game.
Now, for the negatives.
(1) Where was Fred Jackson? He touched the ball only seven times. If he's healthy and in the lineup, he should have more touches than that. Both running backs should.
(2) Ryan Fitzpatrick was inconsistent in the first three quarters. He had a good drive in the fourth quarter, but he was atrocious in the first 45 minutes. The Bills can't win games when he plays that bad. He missed too many throws on Sunday and in a clutch situation, he threw an interception. (Again.)
(3) Play calling. I'll touch on this later, but this team is not a passing team. You don't have Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees quarterbacking this team. What this team has is two good running backs. Use them. This game reminded me of the Houston game. The Bills abandoned the running game when they didn't need to.
DEFENSE - B-
Defensively, the Bills played well. Mario Williams was a force Sunday. He registered three sacks and played one of his best games of the season. The unit allowed 13 points and they kept the Bills in the game.
They did have a problem stopping Indianapolis on third downs. The Colts converted seven of their 16 third down opportunities. The Bills also had problems with Reggie Wayne, who had eight catches for 102 yards.
Overall, it was a good performance. The Colts only managed 87 rushing yards and only scored one touchdown and two field goals. The defense did their job on Sunday. Too bad they couldn't get support from the offense.
SPECIAL TEAMS - C
The punt return for a touchdown ended up being the difference in this one. The punt was bad -- Shawn Powell kicked it directly to T.Y. Hilton -- and the coverage was worse. In a game the Colts won by seven points, you can look at that play and say it was the deciding factor.
COACHING - F
I'm sick of Chan Gailey's play calling. It's atrocious. He doesn't know how to manage his personnel and his inconsistency hurts the Bills. I mentioned this in a previous report card, but C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson need to be the focal point of the offense. Right now, they are not. Gailey believes Ryan Fitzpatrick can lead the way. He isn't that good. And if the head coach can't see it, this team is in trouble.
Some of today's bad decisions:
(1) Gailey abandoned the run way too early. There was a moment in the second quarter when the Bills ran the ball with Fred Jackson twice, but called seven pass plays. There's no reason for that.
Jackson and Spiller had 20 combined rushes. They should have more like 30 or 35. But with Gailey calling the plays, you never know when -- or if -- that's going to happen.
(2) Not attempting the 52-yard field goal. There's no reason why a team, with the ball on the 34-yard line, should punt. No reason. Don't want to attempt the field goal? Then go for it. Keep your offense on the field and try to get the first down. But not going for that field goal was a low point, not only for Gailey, but for kicker Rian Lindell.
Mario Williams. I have criticized Williams and the Bills front four, but the defensive line has been much better in recent weeks and Williams has been a force since surgery on his wrist.
On Sunday, Williams had three sacks and broke up a pass. He now has five sacks in four games and 8.5 sacks on the season.
This is good news for Bills fans and for the defense, which has had its share of struggles this season.
Kicking/punting. Shawn Powell is not an NFL punter. His directional punting is mediocre at best and even though Brian Moorman was struggling earlier this season, Powell hasn't been better. The Bills need to address this position in the offseason.
Another position they will need to address is kicker. The Bills decided to punt instead of attempting a 52-yard field goal. It was a surprising decision, considering most teams have kickers who can attempt (and make) a 52-yard field goal. Apparently, the Bills aren't one of those teams.
You need to have a good kicker in this league. You need a kicker who can make the chip shots and the occasional 50-yard field goal. The Bills don't have that right now. It's time for Lindell to go.
At 1 p.m. Sunday, the Bills will host Jacksonville. The Bills play four of their final five games at home.