Breaking News
More () »

Carucci Take 2: Bizarre Bills loss follows bizarre week of Josh Allen elbow drama

WGRZ Bills/NFL Insider Vic Carucci says odd finishes are nothing new for the Bills, but this ranks as high as any on his all-time list.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Here are my five takeaways from the Buffalo Bills’ 33-30 overtime loss against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Highmark Stadium:

1. Bizarre finishes are nothing new for the Bills, but this ranks as high as any on the all-time list.

It doesn’t supplant “13 Seconds,” because that came in a playoff loss. Still, what happened here Sunday had every bit as much of the snatching-defeat-from-the-jaws of victory feel as when the Bills allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to drive for a tying field goal to force OT, during which the Chiefs would score the winning touchdown in last January’s divisional-round playoff game.

First, the Bills squandered a two-touchdown lead at halftime. Second, they squandered a chance to put the game away in mind-boggling fashion. With 49 seconds left in regulation and the Bills, leading 27-23, at their own 1 after the defense staged a goal-line stand, Josh Allen fumbled on an aborted snap. Eric Kendricks recovered in the end zone for a touchdown to put the Vikings ahead, 30-23.

But the game still wasn’t over, something about which Von Miller said he reminded his teammates before the ensuing kickoff. The Bills managed to drive to a tying field goal with 36 seconds remaining. Then, in OT, the Vikings won the coin toss, drove to a field goal, and Patrick Peterson intercepted Allen in the end zone to seal the outcome.

The turnover was the Bills’ fourth of the game and third by Allen, who had another pickoff, also by Peterson, in addition to the fumble.

“Today was a crazy game,” Miller said. “It’s one of those games where I’ll talk to my son. He’ll research and say, ‘How did y’all lose that one?’ I’m going to have to sit him down and talk to him.”

2. So much for the Josh Allen “Elbow Watch.”

After all the drama and bizarre nature of the will-he-or-won’t-he play this week or next week or the week after that, Allen started and was more than solid for a guy who missed two full practices. He showed little, if any, signs of being bothered by the injury he suffered to his right (throwing) elbow against the New York Jets last week.

The considerable speculation and analysis by fans and media gave way to a classic nothingburger.

“During the game, he was not impacted (by the elbow),” coach Sean McDermott told reporters.

Allen threw for 330 yards and had a pretty, 11-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Davis, dropping the ball where only the receiver could have caught it against tight coverage. He also ran for 46 yards, including a 25-yard gain that helped set up his scoring throw to Davis.

Allen wore white long sleeves, the right appearing to cover a brace of some sort. The first interception he threw in the end zone in the fourth quarter, his third red-zone pickoff in as many games, looked to be far more the result of yet another poor decision than anything to do with his elbow. The Bills should have been looking to settle for a field goal in that situation. Instead, Peterson ended up with the ball.

The fourth red-zone pick in three games came in OT.

3. The Bills have gone three games without scoring a second-half touchdown. That’s a MAJOR problem.

They have been in this TD drought since their 24-20 win against the Chiefs on Oct. 16. The problem began with an ultra-flat showing in the second half of a 27-17 victory against Green Bay, and continued with an ugly, 20-17 loss against the New York Jets.

The Bills do not know how to close teams out. Or so it seems. One of the bigger problems is Allen, who has thrown six interceptions in his last three games.

Another huge issue is their inability to produce any offense beyond Allen's passing and running. Their ground game got off to a promising start Sunday, but they couldn't sustain it.

4. The Bills’ secondary is increasingly feeling the burden of being without three of its best players.

Kirk Cousins threw for 357 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted twice, but his persistence – and having Justin Jefferson as his main pass-catcher – paid off.

Cousins targeted Jefferson 16 times. He caught 10 passes for 193 yards and a TD.

It also helped the Vikings to have one of the NFL’s best running backs, Dalvin Cook. Though the Bills mostly did a solid job of bottling him up, Cook did manage to run for an 81-yard touchdown that cut the Bills’ lead to 27-17 late in the third quarter. Cook finished with 119 yards, averaging 8.5 yards per carry.

Nevertheless, the Bills’ greatest defensive concern must be the fact they played another game without their best safeties: Micah Hyde, who has out for the season after neck surgery, and Jordan Poyer, who has a recurring elbow injury. Also missing, again, was cornerback Tre’Davious White, who hasn’t played since suffering a major knee injury on Thanksgiving.

5. There’s no ignoring the painful nature of the loss or the fact the Bills have suffered back-to-back defeats and now find themselves in third place in the AFC East.

They do not at all resemble a Super Bowl favorite. They continue to find ways to lose, which was the case against the Dolphins and Jets as well.

Health issues are a problem, including the high-ankle sprain to defensive end Greg Rousseau, but the larger factor is the psychological impact of allowing games to slip away.

Allen looked as emotionally crushed as he has in a long time. He wore a similar expression of defeat on his face after the Jets game.

Allen and his teammates must snap out of it. There is far too much season left to carry this with them the rest of the way.

Before You Leave, Check This Out