By Kerry J. Byrne, coldhardfootballfacts.com
The NFL provides its share of colossal meltdowns, embarrassing gaffes and Epic Fails each week.
One team, and one unit, went below and beyond the call of duty here in Week 5 of the 2012 season. The Cold, Hard Football Facts break down one of the worst franchises in pro football at a time when it is in the midst of one of the worst periods of football in its inglorious 53-season history filled largely by painful loss and notable failure.
Epic Fail: the Buffalo Bills defense
The Bills lost 45-3 at San Francisco on Sunday, but even the disastrous 42-point loss does not begin to tell the true statistical story of this historic defensive meltdown.
The 49ers became the first team in NFL history to top 300 yards both rushing (311) and passing (310).
Or, put another way: the Buffalo Bills on Sunday were the first defense in history to get gashed for more than 300 yards both on the ground and through the air.
The 621 yards of total offense was the most ever by the 49ers, historically one of the NFL’s most glamorous offensive franchises. In fact, it broke the record of 598 yards set against, yes, the Buffalo Bills way back in 1992.
Steve Young and his San Francisco mates actually lost to Jim Kelly’s Bills that day, 34-31, when Buffalo was in the middle of its four-AFC-titles-in-a-row run.
The performance this Sunday in San Francisco is just the latest in a disastrous string of epic defensive failures by the Bills.
Last week, Buffalo was overrun in New England with a 45-point second-half explosion by the Patriots. So the Bills have now surrendered 90 points in their last six quarters of play. That’s the equivalent of surrendering 60 points per game, for those of you keeping score at home.
New England ripped off 580 yards of offense last week, the fourth best output in franchise history. Buffalo, in other words, has been gashed badly during historically inept defensive performances two weeks in a row: 1,201 yards allowed over two weeks.
The losses to the 49ers and Patriots represent two of the three worst defensive performances in franchise history, based upon yards allowed.
- San Francisco 45, Buffalo 3 (Oct. 7, 2012) – 621 yards allowed
- Buffalo 34, San Francisco 31 (Sept. 13, 1992) – 598 yards allowed
- New England 52, Buffalo 28 (Sept. 30, 2012) – 580 yards allowed
The Buffalo defense is the worst in football in the Relativity Index, which measures how each team performs relative to the quality of their opposition.
The Bills have surrendered 35.2 PPG through Week 5, while their opponents have averaged just 20.7 PPG against teams other than Buffalo. That differential of +14.5 PPG is easily the worst in football.
The Bills grade out poorly in almost every other defensive indicator, too: No. 27 in Bendability, our measure of defensive efficiency; No. 29 on the Defensive Hog Index, our measure of each defensive front; No. 29 in Defensive Passer Rating (103.6); No. 30 in Defensive QB Rating (97.5); No. 32 in run defense, surrendering 5.69 YPA on the ground.
Buffalo: Distasteful Road Kill
The Bills are sometimes competitive at home. But their defensive failures have been especially epic on the road.
In the team’s last eight road games Buffalo has held only the winless Browns below 28 points.
Here are Buffalo’s defensive performances in its last eight road games:
- 44-7 loss at Dallas (Week 10 2011) – 433 yards allowed
- 35-8 loss at Miami (Week 11 2011) – 242 yards allowed
- 28-24 loss at N.Y. Jets (Week 12 2011) – 318 yards allowed
- 37-10 loss at San Diego (Week 14 2011) – 366 yards allowed
- 49-21 loss at New England (Week 17 2011) – 480 yards allowed
- 48-28 loss at N.Y. Jets (Week 1 2012) – 384 yards allowed
- 24-14 win at Cleveland (Week 3 2012) – 240 yards
- 45-3 loss at San Francisco (Week 5 2012) – 621 yards allowed
Buffalo has surrendered an incredible 300 points in its last eight road games, or 37.5 points per game, while getting gashed for an average of 385.5 YPG; The Bills are 1-7 on those eight games.
The offense has not exactly covered itself in glory, either. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s crew has scored just 115 points in those eight games, or 14.4 points per game.
It doesn’t take a quarterback with a Harvard education to realize that getting blown out by an average score 37-14 on the road is nothing short of an Epic Fail, even by the lowly standards of the Buffalo Bills franchise.