The Buffalo Bills were part angry, part frustrated, part bitterly disappointed in the locker room Sunday after their 21-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
"It is the most frustrating loss since I have been here," defensive end Bruce Smith said. "We're 2 yards away from scoring a touchdown, and that is the most frustrating part of it. . . . It's just heartbreaking."
"I rate it up at the top, I rate it No. 1," said running back Thurman Thomas, gauging his disappointment.
Most frustrating loss ever? No doubt the the emotion Smith and Thomas felt in the moments right after the loss made them prone to overstatement. But their comments showed how painful the defeat was for the Bills.
Guard Ruben Brown was furious on the sidelines after the Bills' final, unsuccessful offensive series.
He stormed off the field in a rage, screaming, "We're down on the 2-yard line and we can't win the (expletive) game. I don't care if this is my second year. That's . . . bull."
Brown had calmed by the time the media got in the locker room. He would not criticize the decision to throw a pass on first-and-goal from the Miami 2 with 1:55 remaining. The play resulted in a 10-yard penalty on Jim Kelly for intentional grounding.
"I don't question the coordinator's calls," Brown said. "I just block 'em. We're supposed to execute, and obviously, by not getting the touchdown, we didn't execute. It doesn't matter what the call was. We're supposed to do the job."
Likewise, Brown's teammates refrained from openly questioning that call or from pointing fingers at each other. But they are worried and upset over the state of their offense.
"Right now, it might be time to push the panic button," Thomas said. "In my nine years, I've never been involved with an offense that had so much talent but still can't move the football."
"However we do it, we have to take care of the ball better. We have to run some different plays. I'm not pointing the finger at the coaches or the players. We just need to do something a little bit different, whether it's the K-Gun or Tim Tindale back in the backfield or what, I don't know. We do need a change. We need something."
"I don't know what is going on on offense," linebacker Bryce Paup said. "I don't get paid to do that. I know we need to get some urgency in this team and start to get the job done. There's too many, 'We will get them next times.' We can't have that anymore. We need to start getting the job done."
The players also are worried about their quarterback, Jim Kelly, who struggled again Sunday and threw three interceptions.
"I've never seen him struggle like this before," Thomas said. "You can't really put a finger on it. I know he's taking this a lot harder than a lot of players in this locker room. He's my friend. I'm going to go over to his house, and we're going to sit down and talk."
Are they worried Kelly has lost his confidence?
"The guy's giving 100 percent, I'm not going to pass judgment on anybody," Andre Reed said. "Jim has been a competitor for 12 years. In one year you just can't lose confidence like that and go in the tank. All he needs is just a little spark."
"We need to come in tomorrow," Thomas said, "and say, 'This is what we're going to do, and we're not going to change it. If it doesn't work, we're going to keep trying to make it work. We've been through all kinds of changes in the offense the first six weeks, and to this point it's not helping us at all."