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Bills' play total in bottom half of NFL after Week One

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills ran 61 offensive plays in their season-opening loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, a total that ranks tied for 20th in the NFL after Week One.

That's far below the goal of the team's new up-tempo, no-huddle offense, and is 28 fewer run than the 89 run by the Patriots, which was the most in the league on opening weekend.

"We would have liked to have their number of plays and wear them down a little bit more," Bills center Eric Wood said.

So what went wrong?

Third downs were a particular problem. The Bills converted just 4 of 13 third downs on offense, 30.8 percent. That's tied for 26th with the Pittsburgh Steelers after Week One, meaning just five teams in the league were worse on converting third downs.

Of course, third downs are a two-way street, and the Bills' defense wasn't much better. The Patriots converted 11 of 20 third downs, or 55 percent. Only two teams (Chicago at 63.6 percent and Oakland at 60 percent) allowed their opponents to convert a better percentage of third-down plays.

Not being able to stay on the field on offense or get off it on defense meant time of possession was heavily in favor of New England. The Bills' offense had the ball for 22:17 on Sunday. Only the Green Bay Packers, at 21:25, held the ball for less time.

"When it comes down to third down and you put yourself in tough situations and you’re not able to convert, any team -- no matter what style of offense they have -- is going to lose the time of possession," coach Doug Marrone said.

"We've just got to make more plays to stay on the field and I think that'll solve that," Wood said. "I don't think we're going to win a lot of time possession battles this year and we're fine with that. We just need to run more plays." 

The Bills' play total is slightly below the league average of 65.3 plays run on opening weekend.

The entire list of plays run looks like this:

    1. New England, 89                  t16. Tennessee, 63
    2. Baltimore, 87                      t16. Kansas City, 63
    t3. Philadelphia, 77                 19. St. Louis, 62
    t3. Detroit, 77                         t20. Buffalo, 61
    t5. Houston, 75                       t20. Chicago, 61
    t5. San Francisco, 75               t20. Seattle, 61
    7. Dallas,74                            t23. New York Giants, 59
    8. New York Jets, 73               t23. Tampa Bay, 59
    9. Cleveland, 72                      25. Green Bay, 58
    t10. Washington, 70                t26. Cincinnati, 55
    t10. Jacksonville 70                t26. Atlanta 55
    t10. Arizona, 70                     t28. Minnesota, 53
    13. Denver, 68                       t28. Indianapolis, 53
    14. New Orleans, 66               t28. Pittsburgh, 53
    15. Miami, 65                        31. San Diego, 51
    t16. Oakland 63                     32. Carolina, 50


Doug Marrone | Eric Wood
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |