TORONTO — The pain and frustration expressed by Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s is beginning to sound like a broken record. In a game played before an announced crowd of 50,746 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, the Bills lost 22-19 to the Chicago Bears and remain the league’s only team without a win.
"This one really hurts." Fitzpatrick said post-game.
Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions in the loss as the Bills fell to 0-8 on the season.
For the third straight week the Bills fought hard and were in a position to win the game, but in the end couldn’t get it done. Before the media even had a chance to ask a question, Bills coach Chan Gailey gave his reason for the loss: “We’re not good enough to overcome turnovers right now. Not being able to run it and turnovers were the key to the game today.”
Of all the turnovers, it was Fitzpatrick’s interception to Tim Jennings that hurt the most. Nursing a 19-14 lead with 9:16 left to play in the fourth quarter, Fitzpatrick underthrew Stevie Johnson running a deep pattern near the sideline. The pass fell into the waiting arms of Jennings, who returned it 39 yards into Bills territory. Six plays later the Bears took the lead and never looked back.
Fitzpatrick took all the blame for the pick. "Chan had a great play, Stevie made a great move on his guy and I didn’t get the ball to him. I used everything I had to look that corner down, I wasn’t sure where the safety was playing over top or staying in the middle, obviously it (the pass) was a little bit short. That was the difference in the game."
The Bills had its chances all game. Near the end of the second quarter, the Bills put together an 11-play, 53-yard drive. After the Bears Charles Tillman was given a 15-yard penalty for a late hit while Fitzpatrick was running out of bounds, the Bills quarterback threw the ball 10 straight times. Fitzpatrick saved his best throw for the final play of the drive as he hit Roscoe Parrish for a 14-yard touchdown. This allowed the Bills to go into the locker room at halftime with a little momentum and the score tied 7-7.
Trailing 14-7 in the third quarter, Fred Jackson ran in for a four yard touchdown to pull the Bills within one. However, the Bears’ Israel Idonije was able to block what is usually an automatic point after touchdown. After hitting 321 consecutive PAT’s in the last 11 seasons, this was the first miss of Rian Lindell’s career. That is the kind of hard luck you would expect from a team that is 0-8.
Early in the fourth quarter, Fullback Corey McIntyre ran in for a one yard touchdown to give the Bills a 19-14 lead. Even though the Bills two point conversion attempt failed, they still had the lead and they had some momentum. All that momentum quickly evaporated once Fitzpatrick threw that interception to Jennings.
Despite the losing and despite the potential of an 0-16 season, Gailey’s faith in his team is unwavering.
"I truly believe this team will get there – and I don’t mean just to win I mean I think we have a chance to be a decent football team."
After losing the last three games by a combined nine points, Fitzpatrick also believes the Bills are close to finally getting their first win. "We got to get over the hump. I’m telling you it just takes one win."
For Lovie Smith and the Bears, the key to victory was Jay Cutler not giving the game away. Other than one fumble, Cutler played a fairly mistake-free game and was able to pick up some first downs running the football. Equally important for the Bears was their commitment to running the football, something that has been lacking for most of the season.
It was a very nice return to Canada for Manitoba native Idonije. In addition to blocking Lindell’s PAT, the Bears defensive end enjoyed a solid game with three quarterback hits, a half a sack, and he stuffed Fred Jackson on a two-point conversion.
For the winless Bills, they will return to practise Wednesday as they prepare to host a very tough Detroit Lions team next Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.