2011 Buffalo Bills season

2011 Buffalo Bills season
Head coach Chan Gailey
General manager Buddy Nix
Owner Ralph Wilson
Home field Ralph Wilson Stadium
Record 6–10
Division place 4th AFC East
Playoff finish did not qualify
Pro Bowlers none

The 2011 Buffalo Bills season was the team's 42nd season in the National Football League and its 52nd overall. The Bills improved on their 4–12 record from the 2010 season, winning six games; however, the team also missed the playoffs for the twelfth consecutive season; the team had not made the playoffs since 1999, the longest standing playoff drought in the NFL at the time. Buffalo played in the Eastern division of the American Football Conference (AFC).


In week 3 of the season, the Bills broke a 15-game losing streak that the team had accrued against the New England Patriots that dated to opening day of the 2003 season; Buffalo defeated the Patriots, 34–31. In doing so, the 2011 Bills became the only team since before 1950 (when comprehensive statistical record keeping began) to win two consecutive games in which they trailed by at least 18 points; they overcame a 21–3 deficit to Oakland in Week 2 and a 21–0 deficit to New England in Week 3. Incidentally, Buffalo's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals the following week was the Bills' first loss to Cincinnati since the 1988 AFC Championship game; that streak had been the longest winning streak by one team over another after Buffalo snapped their losing streak to New England. The Bills started the season with a 5–2 record, positioned to make the playoffs, before losing eight of their final nine games, eliminating them from the playoffs. Wide receiver Stevie Johnson set a franchise mark as the only receiver in Bills history to record two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. No other Bills receiver-- including Andre Reed, James Lofton, Eric Moulds or Lee Evans-- had done so. Buffalo's offense only surrendered 23 sacks all season, the fewest in the NFL.[1]

Key Injuries

The Bills started the season with a promising 5–2 record. However, the remainder of the Bills' season was plagued by injuries to key starters, including linebacker Shawne Merriman, center Eric Wood, cornerback Terrence McGee,[2] star nose tackle Kyle Williams (as well as backup Torell Troup) and star running back Fred Jackson, all of whom were placed on injured reserve to end their respective seasons.[3][4] The Bills also lost two wide receivers that did not contribute significantly during the 2011 season, Marcus Easley and Roscoe Parrish, to IR (the former missing his second full season, the latter coming off a strong 2010 season) and two kickers, incumbent starter Rian Lindell and replacement Dave Rayner; the Bills were compelled to sign a third-string kicker, Brandon Coutu, for the final game of the 2011 season against New England.[5] Rookie Marcell Dareus also admitted to playing much of the season with numerous injuries, but continued to stay on the field out of a personal obligation to the team.[6] Starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick also sustained an undisclosed injury in the middle of the season, but was never listed on the injury report (nor was the injury ever specified) and Fitzpatrick continued to play the rest of the season.[7]

Strong start, weak finish

After a dominating Week Eight shutout win over Washington in Toronto (their only victory north of the border, as their Toronto Series was cancelled after the 2013 season), Buffalo suffered a seven-game losing streak to the New York Jets (twice), Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins (twice), Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers, with the Week 14 loss to San Diego eliminating the team from postseason contention (with the Detroit Lions earning a playoff spot in Week 16, and the Houston Texans winning the AFC South in 2011, the Bills now have sole possession of the NFL's longest current playoff drought, at 12 and counting). The 2011 losing streak was eventually broken by defeating the Denver Broncos on Christmas Eve, a game that was blacked out in Western New York due to poor ticket sales. In the first seven games of the season (of which the Bills won five), the Bills had a +9 turnover differential (18 takeaways, 9 giveaways); from Week 9 until the end of the season, the Bills gave the ball away 21 times, with only 12 takeaways. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick started the season strongly, posting a 97.8 passer rating and a 14/7 touchdown-interception ratio through the first seven games; in the final nine games, Fitzpatrick threw ten touchdowns and 16 interceptions, with a 66.5 quarterback rating in that span. His 23 total interceptions were the most thrown by any quarterback in the league in 2011. He threw only 5 interceptions total in the Bills' six wins and 18 in their ten losses. Bills wide receiver David Nelson stated that Fitzpatrick was injured by Redskins linebacker London Fletcher in Week 8, the last win before the losing streak began. Said Nelson, "A lot of people don't know, but Fitz during the Washington game actually cracked a couple of ribs. So after that, he was playing hurt."[8]


Uniform change

On February 9, 2011, the Bills announced that the team planned to introduce redesigned uniforms for the 2011 season. No details were given on what the uniforms would look like, but it was said that the charging buffalo logo would be kept. Later reports leaked by a Madden NFL 12 trailer, and said to be confirmed by the league, indicated the team would be adopting the uniforms the team wore between 1975 and 1983.[9] It was also announced that an official unveiling of the new uniforms would be at a fan appreciation event later in the summer.[10] The uniforms were unveiled on June 24, 2011. The team also announced that the U.S. military will be involved in the unveiling.[11]

Due to the 2011 NFL lockout that ran from March 11 – July 25, actual Bills' players were prohibited from attending the event. Instead, models from the New York National Guard, along with former Bills' Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas, modeled the new uniforms.[12] This is the first full redesign of the team’s uniforms since the 2002 season.

The Bills wore their white jerseys at home against the New York Jets in Week Nine.[13][14]


Main article: 2011 NFL Draft
2011 Buffalo Bills draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 3 Marcell Dareus *  DT Alabama
2 34 Aaron Williams  CB Texas
3 68 Kelvin Sheppard  LB LSU
4 100 Da'Norris Searcy  DB North Carolina
4 122 Chris Hairston  OL Clemson Pick from SEA[a]
5 133 Johnny White  RB North Carolina
6 169 Chris White  LB Mississippi St
7 206 Justin Rogers  CB Richmond
7 245 Michael Jasper  DT Bethel (TN) Compensatory[b]
      Made roster       Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career
^[a] The Bills acquired this fourth-round selection and a 2012 conditional draft selection in an October 2010 trade that sent RB Marshawn Lynch to the Seattle Seahawks.
^[b] Compensatory selection.


Buffalo Bills 2011 staff
Front Office
  • President – Ralph Wilson
  • CEO – Russ Brandon
  • Executive Vice President/General Manager – Buddy Nix
  • Senior Vice President of Football Administration – Jim Overdorf
  • Assistant General Manager/Director of Player Personnel – Doug Whaley
  • Director of Pro Personnel – Tom Gibbons
  • Director of College Scouting – Chuck Cook

Head Coaches

Offensive Coaches


Defensive Coaches

Special Teams Coaches

  • Special Teams Coordinator – Bruce DeHaven
  • Assistant Special Teams – Stan Kwan

Strength and Conditioning

  • Head Strength and Conditioning – Eric Ciano
  • Head Strength and Conditioning – John Gamble

Final roster

2011 Buffalo Bills final roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics
53 Active, 17 Inactive, 8 Practice squad



Week Date Opponent Result Record Game site NFL.com
1 August 13 at Chicago Bears L 3–10 0–1 Soldier Field Recap
2 August 20 at Denver Broncos L 10–24 0–2 Sports Authority Field at Mile High Recap
3 August 27 Jacksonville Jaguars W 35–32 (OT) 1–2 Ralph Wilson Stadium Recap
4 September 1 Detroit Lions L 6–16 1–3 Ralph Wilson Stadium Recap

Regular season

Week Date Opponent Result Record Game site NFL.com
1 September 11 at Kansas City Chiefs W 41–7 1–0 Arrowhead Stadium Recap
2 September 18 Oakland Raiders W 38–35 2–0 Ralph Wilson Stadium Recap
3 September 25 New England Patriots W 34–31 3–0 Ralph Wilson Stadium Recap
4 October 2 at Cincinnati Bengals L 23-20 4-0 Paul Brown Stadium Recap
5 October 9 Philadelphia Eagles W 31–24 4–1 Ralph Wilson Stadium Recap
6 October 16 at New York Giants L 27-24 4–2 MetLife Stadium Recap
7 Bye
8 October 30 Washington Redskins W 23–0 5–2 Rogers Centre (Toronto) Recap
9 November 6 New York Jets L 27-11 5–3 Ralph Wilson Stadium Recap
10 November 13 at Dallas Cowboys L 44-7 5–4 Cowboys Stadium Recap
11 November 20 at Miami Dolphins L 35-8 5–5 Sun Life Stadium Recap
12 November 27 at New York Jets L 28-24 5–6 MetLife Stadium Recap
13 December 4 Tennessee Titans L 23-17 5–7 Ralph Wilson Stadium Recap
14 December 11 at San Diego Chargers L 37-10 5–8 Qualcomm Stadium Recap
15 December 18 Miami Dolphins L 30-23 5–9 Ralph Wilson Stadium Recap
16 December 24 Denver Broncos W 40–14 6–9 Ralph Wilson Stadium Recap
17 January 1 at New England Patriots L 49-21 6–10 Gillette Stadium Recap
Note: Intra-division opponents are in bold text.
 #  Indicates the game was part of the Bills Toronto Series.

Game summaries

Week 1

1 234Total
Bills 14 6147 41
Chiefs 0 700 7


With the win, the Bills start 1-0.

Week 2

1 234Total
Raiders 0 21014 35
Bills 0 31421 38


Week 3

1 234Total
Patriots 14 737 31
Bills 0 10717 34

With the stunning win, the Bills improved to 3-0.

Week 4

1 234Total
Bills 0 1703 20
Bengals 3 01010 23

Week 5

1 234Total
Eagles 0 7710 24
Bills 7 14100 31

Week 6

1 234Total
Bills 14 307 24
Giants 7 1073 27

Week 8

1 234Total
Redskins 0 000 0
Bills 7 673 23

Week 9

1 234Total
Jets 0 3177 27
Bills 0 0011 11


Week 10

1 234Total
Bills 0 700 7
Cowboys 14 14610 44


Week 11

1 234Total
Bills 3 302 8
Dolphins 14 1470 35


Trying to snap a two-game losing streak, the Bills flew to Sun Life Stadium for a Week 11 AFC East showdown with the Miami Dolphins. Buffalo delivered the game's opening punch in the first quarter with a 30-yard field goal from kicker Dave Rayner, but the Dolphins answered with quarterback Matt Moore completing a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Anthony Fasano, followed by running back Reggie Bush getting a 5-yard touchdown run. Miami added onto their lead in the second quarter with Moore completing a 12-yard touchdown pass to fullback Charles Clay and a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Davone Bess. The Bills would close out the half with a 56-yard field goal from Rayner.

The Dolphins added onto Buffalo's misery in the third quarter with running back Lex Hilliard recovering a blocked punt in the endzone for a touchdown. The Bills tried to rally in the fourth quarter as rookie linebacker Kelvin Sheppard tackled running back Daniel Thomas in the endzone for a safety, but Miami's lead proved to be too much to overcome.

With the loss, Buffalo fell to 5–5.

Week 12

1 234Total
Bills 7 773 24
Jets 0 1477 28


Week 13

1 234Total
Titans 10 733 23
Bills 7 307 17


Week 14

1 234Total
Bills 0 0100 10
Chargers 7 9147 37


Week 15

1 234Total
Dolphins 0 13710 30
Bills 7 0016 23


Week 16

1 234Total
Broncos 7 070 14
Bills 0 17617 40


Week 17

1 234Total
Bills 21 000 21
Patriots 0 141421 49


Buffalo's final game of the season was a 49–21 loss to New England on New Year's Day 2012. In a mirror image of Week Three, the Bills opened a 21–0 on New England, before giving up 49 unanswered points to the high-powered Patriot offense. Head coach Chan Gailey benched wide receiver Stevie Johnson after Johnson caught a touchdown, then lifted his jersey to reveal "Happy New Year" on his shirt. The touchdown was Johnson's final play of the season as he was benched for the rest of the game. According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, New England, who won by 28, became the first team in NFL history to win a game by more than eight points after trailing by more than 20 points after one quarter.[26] It was also the first time in a two-game season series that the winning team in each game overcame a deficit of more than 17 points.[27] With the loss, the Bills finished with a 6–10 record and secured the 10th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.


AFC East
(1) New England Patriots 13 3 0 .813 5–1 10–2 513 342 W8
New York Jets 8 8 0 .500 3–3 6–6 394 382 L3
Miami Dolphins 6 10 0 .375 3–3 5–7 348 330 W1
Buffalo Bills 6 10 0 .375 1–5 4–8 372 434 L1


  1. 2011 Buffalo Bills: Team Allows Fewest Sacks In NFL
  2. BuffaloBills.com: McGee out for season; Jackson, Jones also hurt
  3. Fred Jackson's deactivation was somewhat controversial, as it disqualified him from Pro Bowl consideration; Jackson, whose leg was expected to heal by the time of the Pro Bowl, was a contender for the game and would have been the only Bill to make the team, since the Bills had no players named to the contest. At the end of Week 10 (the game in which Jackson was injured), he was leading the NFL in rushing yards, with 917.
  4. Pro-Football-Reference.com: In a single season, in 2011, in the regular season, from 1st week to 10th week, sorted by descending Rushing Yds
  5. ESPN: Buffalo Bills Transactions – 2011
  6. Sullivan, Jerry (December 29, 2011). Rookie year an education for Dareus. The Buffalo News. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  7. Cortez was the only logical choice to run the Ti-Cats. The Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  8. Buffalo Rumblings: Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick Played Hurt, Per David Nelson
  9. Graham, Tim (April 25, 2011). Promo video leaks Buffalo's new uniforms. ESPN.com. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  10. http://www.buffalonews.com/sports/bills-nfl/article336833.ece
  11. After the unveiling, there was a movie screening The Blind Side which was scheduled to round out the unveiling and fan appreciation event. Fans could vote for which film they want to see on the Bills' Facebook page.
  12. http://www.buffalonews.com/sports/bills-nfl/article440998.ece
  13. The Bills hadn't worn white at home since 1986 vs. Indianapolis
  14. Bills to wear white jerseys on Sunday
  15. Game Book
  16. Game Book
  17. Game Book
  18. Game Book
  19. Game Book
  20. Game Book
  21. Game Book
  22. Game Book
  23. Game Book
  24. Game Book
  25. Game Book
  26. ESPN: Elias Sports Bureau, 2 January, 2012
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