Marcell Dareus needed a cold tub Sunday.
“I feel like a player coming off the streets right now, man,” the Buffalo Bills’ defensive tackle said after making his 2016 season debut in a 41-25 loss to the New England Patriots at New Era Field. “Sore as hell.”
Dareus finished with four tackles, including two that went for losses, and one sack of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. That brought his career total to 31.5, which is second most in Bills history among defensive tackles behind only Kyle Williams (38).
“I mean, I felt pretty good,” Dareus said. “We were flowing pretty good for the most part, just a couple blown things, couple missed coverages, and Brady will tear you apart from there. So we just had a good time out there, but at the same time I wish we would have won the game.”
Dareus missed the first four games of the season because of a suspension for violating the league’s drug policy, then the next three because of a hamstring injury.
“Clearly he’s probably not 100 percent, but I was happy to get him back,” coach Rex Ryan said.
While Dareus made his return, for the most part the injury news was again negative. Running back LeSean McCoy missed the game because of a hamstring injury, but it’s wide receiver that has been particularly devastated.
Sammy Watkins and Greg Salas are on injured reserve, Marquise Goodwin was out with a concussion, Robert Woods was clearly limited because of a foot injury and during the game, Brandon Tate was lost to a concussion.
“Some guys have to understand that you might be a backup, but your role can drastically change,” Ryan said. “If you’re the fourth guy up, you might have to play, and that kind of happened to us a little bit today. It can’t be an excuse. You’ve got to be ready.
In addition to Tate, outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (hamstring) and running back Reggie Bush (groin) were hurt Sunday. Alexander said after the game that he’s suffered a similar injury and was able to play the following week, which gave him hope he’d be ready for Week Nine in Seattle.
If Alexander isn’t ready to go, that would elevate rookie Shaq Lawson into a starting role. The Bills’ first-round draft pick from Clemson got his first career sack Sunday.
“We actually put him in a couple different coverages. I thought he did a decent job,” Ryan said.
Lawson also picked up a personal foul for a late hit on Brady, one of 12 penalties against the Bills.
“He’s got to understand that you might be able to blast them in college, but this game, if it’s laste, they’re going to call it,” Ryan said. “There was too many of those things that we got to learn from, but this is a young man that we all think is going to be a tremendous player for us.”
The Bills were flagged a season-high 12 times Sunday, an amount Ryan called “embarrassing.”
“We had a lot of reaching and holding calls, roughing the passers,” linebacker Preston Brown said. “It seemed like every time we did get a stop, it wasn’t a stop because we got a penalty. It just wasn’t a good day for us, overall.”
The Patriots went 9 of 13 on third down.
“You can’t miscommunicate, you can’t blow defenses and you can’t give them extra opportunities on third down through penalties,” defensive tackle Kyle Williams said.
Former Bills receiver Chris Hogan had a grand time in his return to New Era Field. Hogan finished with four catches for 91 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter.
“Once I got off the line, the ball was already in the air,” Hogan said. “It seemed like the ball was up in the air for a long time, it was just one of those things that I go up and make a play.”
Hogan now has 19 catches for 391 yards and two touchdowns in his first season with New England after signing a four-year contract.
“It’s always fun to go up against old teams,” he said. “I mean, especially after the first game that we lost. You know, it wasn’t really my best game and it wasn’t our best game as a team, but to come back here, we wanted to play really well.”
In addition to Goodwin and McCoy, the Bills also declared the following players inactive: safety Aaron Williams (neck), quarterback Cardale Jones, offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, center Patrick Lewis and defensive lineman Jerel Worthy.