Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron wished every game was a single entity with every result evaluated equally and pushed aside all the same. In fact, as Jauron acknowledged this week, the blowout loss to the New England Patriots would likely stay with him a little longer than most of the others.
The Bills entered the game against the Pats with the right mental approach in the sense they respected their opponent but believed they could win if they played a near-perfect game. Instead, they staggered off the field with the worst loss in franchise history, a humiliating, 56-10 defeat on national television.
"I'd like to say they're all the same, but I don't think that they are," Jauron said. "It's a little harder, for me, anyway, to get past these kinds of games. They're all losses. You have to get past them eventually, but you go back and replay every single thing."
No matter. The Bills were merely the latest obstacle in the path of the best team in the NFL. New England is looking to become the first undefeated team in 35 years, win the Super Bowl and earn a place in NFL history. The Bills' big picture is much different and considerably less attractive. They want to win their next game.
"At this point in our season, there are very few people who thought we would be 5-5, so I give our players a lot of credit for how they've worked to get to this point," Jauron said. "We've got six games left, and we're looking forward to get past this one -- and it will take us a day or so -- and moving on quickly and getting ready for the next one."
Their next game is actually bigger and not, as coaches like to say, solely because it's the next one. The Bills are locked in a tight battle with several teams for a wild-card spot going into the final six games. It starts Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have a two-game lead over Buffalo.
The sooner Buffalo pushes the New England game aside, the better.
"You hate to lose," receiver Lee Evans said. "You hate to lose like that. You hate to lose like that at home. But you got to let it go. There are many games to be played, none bigger than this one coming up."
If the Bills beat the Jaguars on the road, they would remain in playoff contention for a wild-card berth for at least another week. Buffalo and Jacksonville are among six teams that had .500 records or better, not counting the four division leaders. The others are Cleveland, Tennessee, Houston and Denver.
The Bills haven't beaten a team that currently has a winning record. Their five wins have come against teams that are a combined 11-39. Their five losses have come against teams that are a combined 41-9. Miami (0-10) is Buffalo's only remaining opponent with a losing record. The other five are a combined 30-20.
"We do get added motivation because of the way we lost, you know, on national TV, 50-plus to 10," safety Donte Whitner said. "We have to do some regrouping around here. We have to come back ready to work [today]. We have a must-win game on Sunday. If we win that football game, people are going to pretty much forget about this loss."
Another loss would likely signal the end of quarterback J.P. Losman's four-year career with the Bills. There's been a sense Losman would be replaced if he spilled coffee in a team meeting, let alone play poorly for an entire game. He did not play well against the Patriots, but it was hardly a barometer.
The better test comes this week against a good team with a winning record in an important game on the road. Losman might not solidify his future in Buffalo, but he would likely receive a temporary reprieve from people who have been clamoring for rookie Trent Edwards to take back the offense for the rest of the season.
"We have a long way to go," Losman said. "There are a lot of games left. There's still a possibility there to have a great season. . . . You have to be ready to play every week and be grateful for your opportunities. When it's time to make the throws and lead your team, you have to do it. You have to come through."