The Buffalo Bills had an outside shot at the playoffs entering Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bills committed five turnovers, 11 penalties and had only 214 total yards in a 27-6 loss to the Buccaneers.
Bills rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel played like one Sunday. He threw four interceptions and was sacked seven times in the loss.
Buccaneers rookie quarterback Mike Glennon didn't have a much better day, but he did throw two touchdowns to lead Tampa Bay.
With the loss, the Bills have locked up their ninth straight losing season and are likely out of contention for a playoff spot in the AFC.
Here is this week's Buffalo Bills report card:
GRADING THE UNITS
OFFENSE - F
I'm not a fan of using numbers a lot when writing the unit-by-unit analysis. But in this case, the stats tell the story.
E.J. Manuel: Zero touchdowns, four interceptions.
Bills rushing attack: 22 carries for 67 yards. The team's leading rusher? Manuel, who ran five times for 29 yards.
Total yards: 214.
Penalties: 11 for 114 yards (some were on the defense, but most were called on the Bills offense).
Between the poor quarterback play, the non-existent rushing attack, the mediocre passing game and penalties, you aren't going to win games when you put up those numbers.
Bottom line: The Bills need a better offensive line. Some of the pieces are there — Eric Wood was bad Sunday, but he's the leader of the line — but they could use some upgrades at a few positions. They need to get C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson more involved in the offense. And they need a big receiving target to help take some pressure off Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods and the rest of the smaller receiving corps.
DEFENSE - C-
This week's grade for the defense is the same as last week's for a lot of reasons.
The Bills didn't pressure rookie quarterback Mike Glennon for most of the game. Marcell Dareus had the only sack Sunday and the rest of the front seven were non-factors in this one. Jerry Hughes? He had three tackles, but no sacks. Mario Williams? Two tackles, but zero in the sack department.
Buffalo's pass rush has been key this season, but they didn't have a good game against Tampa Bay.
But the worst part of the Bills defense, stopping the run, continued to be a problem Sunday. The Bills allowed 165 yards on the ground, including an 80-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter.
While Mike Pettine has been a huge asset for this team and the defense, he has failed to find a solution to the run defense problem that continues to plague this team. Much like the offensive line, it probably won't be a problem that gets fixed in the final three games of the season. But it should be a top priority for this team heading into 2014.
SPECIAL TEAMS - D+
The Bills committed five turnovers Sunday, including one on special teams. Leodis McKelvin muffed a punt and the Buccaneers recovered the fumble. McKelvin muffed another punt later in the game, but the Bills recovered.
McKelvin has had a mediocre year in the return game. He hasn't been much of a factor and the two muffed punts Sunday isn't what the Bills need in those situations. It might be time to find someone who can better handle the punt return duties.
The only bright spot for the special teams against Tampa Bay: Dan Carpenter. Carpenter booted two field goals — a 40-yarder in the first quarter and a 46-yarder in the third quarter — to provide the Bills' only scoring plays of the day.
COACHING - D-
This was a horrible game for the Bills, especially for the coaching staff. The team didn't look prepared, the offense was brutal and the defense gave up a big run on the second play from scrimmage. Was it the worst game for the Bills this season? You bet.
On offense, the Bills couldn't get anything done. Was Nathaniel Hackett prepared for this game? It didn't seem like it. His play calling was horrible, the offensive line couldn't handle the Buccaneers' pass rush and the running game was a non-factor.
Head coach Doug Marrone, who is a former offensive lineman and spent a lot of time with the offensive line during training camp, should be asked a lot of questions about the state of his O-line. This is a unit in shambles. Even Eric Wood, the center and anchor of the line, is playing poorly. A lot needs to change about the O-line, but it may have to wait until the off-season.
The defense improved as the game went on, but they didn't apply enough pressure on rookie quarterback Mike Glennon and gave up an 80-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage. Stopping the run continued to be a problem for the Bills as they gave up 165 yards on the ground.
This was a game the coaching staff could learn a lot from. A lot of the Bills' weaknesses were exposed Sunday. They will need to patch things up and prepare for next week's game against Jacksonville, another team that is surging in the second half of the season.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
OFFENSE: Bobby Rainey. The Bills offense couldn't get anything done, so we turn to the Tampa Bay offense for this week's player of the game.
Rainey had 22 carries for 127 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage. While the rest of his day wasn't great, the 80-yard run was impressive. Rainey led the way as the Buccaneers rushed for 165 yards against the Bills defense.
DEFENSE: Lavonte David. The Bills defense didn't have any standout players Sunday, but the Buccaneers had one — linebacker Lavonte David.
David had nine tackles (eight solo), a sack, two interceptions and two tackles for loss. It was a player of the game-caliber performance and he could win the NFC defensive player of the week award after this week's game.
Offensive line. Of the Bills' 11 penalties, the offensive line was responsible for most of them. And when you factor in the seven sacks allowed Sunday by the Bills, this was arguably the worst the game the Bills' offensive line has had this season.
It's no secret that the Bills could use some upgrades at a few positions along the offensive line, namely left guard. They will need to address the issue in the offseason, whether it's in free agency or the draft. Either way, the Bills have some work to do to make sure their offensive line in 2014 is vastly better than the mediocre unit that took the field in 2013.
STAT OF THE GAME
Too many penalties. The Bills committed 11 penalties Sunday, including a holding call that wiped out C.J. Spiller's 83-yard touchdown reception. Most of the penalties were committed by the offensive line, who need to do a better job of being more disciplined and playing smarter.
The penalties hurt Buffalo all game, but it wasn't just on offense. There were a few penalties on defense that also hurt the Bills.
STAT OF THE GAME II
E.J. Manuel's interceptions. Manuel had four interceptions in eight games prior to Sunday's contest. He matched that total against the Buccaneers.
Two interceptions weren't Manuel's fault. The first interception went off Stevie Johnson's hands and another was the result of a great hit by Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis. But the other two picks were bad throws by Manuel.
The key for Manuel, as a rookie quarterback, is to protect the ball and limit mistakes. He didn't do that Sunday and it's a big reason why the Bills lost the game.
The Bills (4-9) will stay in Florida for next week's game. At 1 p.m. Sunday, Buffalo will play the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bills' next home game is Sunday, Dec. 23 against the Miami Dolphins.