TORONTO - Ryan Fitzpatrick looked a little dazed.
The Bills’ quarterback, who took over from the confidence-challenged Trent Edwards three weeks ago, had just been harassed into a 19-13 loss to the New York Jets on Thursday night at the Rogers Centre.
A week after rallying Buffalo to a 31-14 victory over the Dolphins, Fitzpatrick endured his second-worst passer rating in 20 starts.
He was only 9-of-23 through the air for a mere 98 yards with an interception and three sacks and a 34.3 rating.
He desperately tried to get the ball to his wideouts, throwing nine times to Terrell Owens (completing three for 31 yards) and on seven occasions to Lee Evans (connecting only on a 38-yarder) … that’s 4-for-16 for 69 yards to your playmakers.
In fairness, the 26-year-old Harvard alumnus was under near-constant pressure.
Besides the three sacks, he fumbled twice, losing one, was picked off the on Bills’ final possession as he tried to force to ball to T.O., and was hit eight times.
WHEN ASKED what happened to the offense, Fitzpatrick admitted, “A number of things.
“I think the one thing you can point to is the third downs (1-for-11) … that’s how you stay on the field. They had our number today on third downs. The different pressures they were bringing plus still getting double teams on our receivers.”
He added, “We had a hard time with it … even some of the stuff on first and second down. But third down was the biggest issue for us today … and we didn’t play well.”
Fitzpatrick explained, “We had opportunities all day, even up until that last drive. We felt going in we had great playmakers on the outside.
“We wanted to get the ball to both guys on the outside and for one reason or another it just didn’t work out.”
OWENS, the centerpiece of the T.O. in TO. promotion for this game, was frustrated, but measured his comments carefully.
“They were bringing a lot of pressure and we weren’t picking them up for whatever reason,” he said. “There were some opportunities that we missed (and) that was due to breakdowns up front.
“Obviously we came in feeling good about our chances. I felt like there were some opportunities there and it was either breakdowns in protection, we just didn’t connect or he didn’t see me.”
Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick, 6-13-1 as a starter, was bothered by the setback after last week’s encouraging performance.
“I got hit a little bit today,” he admitted, “but you’re always going to get hit. You have to be able to step into those (rushes) and make the throws.
“It was just frustrating all around today. Some of it was just them out-scheming us and bringing guys that we couldn’t block. That was an issue today, but it wasn’t our only issue, we had a lot of things that just didn’t help us. They really didn’t give us many opportunities to go downfield.”
Or anywhere else, for that matter.
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at cpollock@oleantimesherald)