Safety Kurt Schulz had a look of utter amazement when told that Denver Broncos' running back Terrell Davis had rushed for 207 yards, the most ever against the Buffalo Bills' defense.
"He had what?" Schulz said. "I had no idea. That's a lot of yards."
That Schulz and his teammates were surprised by Davis' rushing total said it all about the Bills' defensive performance in Sunday's 23-20 loss to the Broncos.
On a day when Buffalo defenders thought they played well, the numbers suggest they didn't play well enough.
"We may have played decent, but we haven't scratched the surface of how great this defense can play," said nose tackle Ted Washington, who had four tackles, a half sack and batted down two passes against his former team. "We had to stop the run. That was the key. He got 207 yards. We didn't do a good job."
Sometimes, perception isn't necessarily reality.
Sure, Davis gained 207 yards -- 124 in the first half -- but it took him 42 carries to accomplish the feat. There were even times in the second half when he wasn't much of a factor as the Broncos' offense reverted to its pre-Davis days and relied mostly on the arm of quarterback John Elway.
"Davis is a great back, but I'm not sure he was the sole reason we lost," said Schulz, whose interception set up Buffalo's first touchdown. "I thought we pretty much held them (Denver's offense) in check. They really only had one long drive."
When a couple of second-half turnovers put the Bills in a 20-0 hole, it was the defense that made the plays and helped ignite the comeback.
After the Broncos built the 20-0 lead, the Bills' defense forced four punts and a turnover (an interception by Schulz) on the next five possessions before Jason Elam kicked the winning field goal in overtime.
Buffalo finished with five sacks, three takeaways and got a monster game from linebacker Damien Covington, who had 22 tackles, including 16 solo hits.
"I thought the defense played well, but in this game the bottom line is winning and we didn't do that," Schulz said. "If we stopped them at the very end, we give our offense a chance to win the game in the overtime."
Unfortunately for the Bills, the offense didn't offer much help through the first three quarters. Turnovers, a lack of execution and curious play-calling put the defense in a difficult situation almost from the start.
The defense was frustrated, but not discouraged.
"No one ever said publicly or acknowledged it by the look on their face that this game was hopeless," said defensive end Bruce Smith, who became the first NFL player to reach 10 sacks in 11 straight seasons. "Defensively, each and every player felt we had a shot."
"Our defense isn't going to quit," added linebacker Chris Spielman. "We play hard, run to the ball and do what we've got to do. We lost a tough one, but that's a part of being in the NFL. You've just got to come back for the next one and try to get better."