Undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel was thrown into the fire Sunday by the Buffalo Bills against the vaunted Kansas City Chiefs' defense. Despite having some fine moments in the first half of his first NFL start, Tuel earned a hard lesson on the fine line between good and bad in this league.
As the run game fueled a brilliant second-half-opening drive, Tuel and the Bills faced a third-and-goal from the Chiefs' 1-yard line in a game the Bills were leading 10-3. Score a touchdown there, and the Bills could have put the hammer down with a 17-3 lead. Settle for the field goal, and they're still up two scores.
Tuel chose option No. 3.
Despite Stevie Johnson being wide open in the back of the end zone, Tuel missed him and threw short — to a spot where no Bill could catch it. Instead, Chiefs corner Sean Smith jumped the short pass and was off to the races. Tuel tried his best to make the tackle but couldn't get the angle and stop Smith from scoring.
Suddenly, and shockingly, it was a 10-10 game. Earlier, Tuel had thrown an interception with a similar-looking problem: It appeared he and his receiver were on different pages, perhaps even different chapters of the same book.
These are the kinds of mistakes that can't happen when an undermanned team is trying to pull an upset over an unbeaten team. The Chiefs went on to win 23-13.
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