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Tim Graham: The Pessimism envelops The Process in Bills' loss to the Jets

Tim Graham

The past three days were a roiling sea, crashing waves of pending doom against a breakwall of assumptions.

Many of us chalked up a victory against the New York Jets, putting the Bills at 6-2 with a few extra days rest before next Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints at New Era Field.

Many in the national media trumpeted the Bills as a playoff team.

Yet a scroll through social media before Thursday night's game revealed Bills fans were rather angsty.

The Bills were favored by a field goal against an opponent they defeated convincingly on opening day.

But it was the type of matchup that has conditioned us to be crushed.

Thursday night brought us The Process versus The Pessimism.

Buffalo's old ghosts prevailed for one night over Sean McDermott's impressive organizational reconstruction. The Jets curb-stomped the Bills, 34-21, at the Meadowlands.

Sean McDermott on loss: 'No excuses, they beat us straight up tonight'

New York led by 27 points deep into the fourth quarter before Buffalo scored two garbage-time touchdowns in 101 seconds to make the score seem more respectable.

The Bills were undisciplined. They were not opportunists. They didn't conjure the big defensive play that had become their 2017 trademark.

The Bills were flat-out inferior to the Jets, among the least of their opponents on a rugged remaining schedule that includes the Kansas City Chiefs, the Los Angeles Chargers three time zones away and two games against the New England Patriots.

Thursday night's loss hurts because the gap between 6-2 and 5-3 very well might be the gap between playoffs and an 18th straight season without.

Buffalo went into halftime down three points and got the ball to start the second half.

But it felt like the Bills were already trailing by two touchdowns with no hope of winning, all their players were injured, the NFL had rescinded the Kelvin Benjamin trade and their main motivation was to punish their devoted fans for expecting good things.

Such disaster tumbling down on the fans' heads.

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And what did Buffalo do with its first six possessions after halftime?

Three-and-out (1 yard gained), three-and-out (4 yards gained), three-and-out (8 yards gained), fumble, fumble, four downs without moving the chains.

The Jets ragdolled the Bills' offensive line. Tyrod Taylor, sacked 19 times through the first seven games, was dropped five times in the first half. The Jets finished with seven sacks, including a strip in the fourth quarter.

Buffalo's rushing strategy looked like Ground and Flounder.

LeSean McCoy ran 12 times for 25 yards. His went 13 yards on his second carry, but he gained just 12 yards on his next 10 attempts. Taylor threw one pass to McCoy, but it was off the mark for an incompletion.

Only seven times in McCoy's 128 career games has he gained fewer than 25 total yards.

The Bills entered Thursday night comfortably atop the NFL with a plus-14 turnover margin. Their 17 takeaways were tied for the lead, and their three giveaways were tied for the NFL's fewest.

For the second game this year and the first time in seven weeks, they failed to force a turnover. Josh McCown threw a pass right into Bills safety Leonard Johnson's hands in Jets territory with 3:19 left in the first quarter.

Jay Skurski's Bills-Jets Report Card: You can't spell 'woof' without 'F' – and Buffalo got lots of those

The Bills had lost one fumble all year. They handed over three Thursday night.

Wide receiver Jordan Matthews knocked the ball out of his own hand to erase a scoring chance at the end of the first half.

Tight end Nick O'Leary gave one away with 2:26 left in the third quarter. O'Leary thought he'd been tackled, but the whistle wasn't blown because no Jets defender touched him. While he was standing there, the Jets pried the ball away.

Taylor was stripped from behind while scrambling early in the fourth quarter.

Taylor had an upright statistical game. He was 29 of 40 for 285 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, a 108.9 passer rating. He also led the Bills in rushing -- less praise than it is an indictment of the offense -- with 35 yards and a touchdown.

Whatever your mentality about the 2017 season, the sample size has been large enough for you to believe whatever you want.

Even those drunk on The Process after Sunday's entertaining victory over the Oakland Raiders must have found their prime-time performance sobering.

A significant element of The Process, however, is what happens after a setback.

In that regard, we probably will learn more about the Bills in their next game than we think we learned Thursday night.

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