There were so many moments, so many chances for the Bills to pull off the improbable.
And that’s why this loss — a 9-3 defeat in Week Two to the Carolina Panthers — should especially sting.
By all means, give Sean McDermott’s team credit for contesting this one until the bitter end. Sure, applaud the Bills’ overworked defense for gutting it out for 60 minutes and sacking Cam Newton six times — the most since they registered seven sacks against the New York Jets on Nov. 24, 2014.
But there are no moral victories in the NFL. And the Bills only have themselves to blame.
They wasted a sterling performance by their defense. They failed to capitalize on the Panthers’ offensive miscues as well as their injuries. And worst of all, the Bills narrowly missed out on the chance to start the season undefeated.
Of course, rookie receiver Zay Jones will be scrutinized for dropping the potential game-winning touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor on 4th-and-11 with 14 seconds left. But the game’s outcome shouldn’t have come down to the wire — not when tight end Greg Olsen, one of the Panthers’ top weapons, was sitting on the bench wearing a boot on his right foot, and Newton was a mere shell of himself, sailing passes over receivers’ heads. Olsen said after the game that he has a broken foot and will miss "a lot of games."
There were plenty of chances for the Bills to put points on the board early. But instead, there were far too many three-and-outs and way too little production from LeSean McCoy (nine yards on 12 carries) in the running game. Save for that final fourth-quarter drive, their receivers were a non-factor for much of the afternoon.
The Bills' offense lacks star power, that we know. But players continue to insist that this team has all the pieces it needs to be successful.
So where were all of those pieces in the first half when they mustered only 39 yards of offense?