There's no sense in denying it – the Buffalo Bills lost a game they couldn't afford to Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
Buffalo's 0-2 start to the season put them in a massive hole, especially considering both losses were against AFC teams. A win Sunday would have finally gotten them out of it. Instead, the 28-25 loss dropped the Bills to 1-3 in the AFC, an important tiebreaker when it comes to the postseason race.
The Bills are now in the familiar position of needing a win against New England in a game in which they are decided underdogs.
Here is a look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling after a tough loss in South Florida:
• Lorenzo Alexander – What a story this continues to be. The veteran with nine sacks in the first nine years of his career matched that total in the seventh game of 2016. Seriously. Alexander now has a seven-game sack streak, which is the most for the Bills since Bruce Smith had at least one over nine straight games in the 1986 and '87 seasons. Alexander also made a tackle for loss among his four total tackles, and had another solid tackle on special teams. On top of all that, he's become a leader in the locker room in just seven games with the team. General Manager Doug Whaley and coach Rex Ryan deserve credit for bringing him in, and Alexander deserves every bit of praise he's getting.
• Brandon Tate – Another one of Whaley's solid personnel moves, Tate was a beast on special teams. His 30-yard punt return helped to set up the Bills' first field goal, and he downed a punt at the Miami 1-yard line in the second half by making a spectacular catch. He also added two catches for 31 yards, including one that set the Bills up on the Dolphins' 1-yard line in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter.
• Marquise Goodwin – With Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Greg Salas out of the lineup, Goodwin took over as the Bills' No. 1 receiver and finished with four catches for 93 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown that showed off his world-class deep speed. Bonus points for the long jump celebration in the end zone, too. Unfortunately, Goodwin suffered a concussion late in the fourth quarter, calling his availability for next week's game into question.
• LeSean McCoy – If the company line is that he was 100 percent, then McCoy definitely deserves to be here. He produced just 11 yards on eight carries before leaving the game for good in the third quarter. There's no way to look at this other than that the Bills should have given McCoy the week off and trusted that Mike Gillislee and Reggie Bush could handle the rushing duties against the 31st-ranked run defense. If they didn't believe that, then why are those two players on the roster? Depending on how seriously McCoy is hurt, this could be the defining moment of the 2016 season.
• Jordan Mills – The entire Buffalo offensive line deserves a spot here, but Mills' struggles against Cam Wake stood out the most. Mills was responsible for two of the four sacks quarterback Tyrod Taylor took, and allowed four total quarterback hurries, according to the analytics website Pro Football Focus.
• Charles Clay – With the aforementioned receivers out, the Bills needed Clay to play a big role in the offense. He finished with just two catches for 29 yards, failing to take advantage of the fact the Dolphins were without perhaps their best player in safety Reshad Jones.