Talk about wasting a defensive masterpiece.
The Buffalo Bills’ offense couldn’t have done more – or shall we say less – on the way to at least being competitive and, perhaps, even squandering a perfect opportunity for a massive upset Monday night at New Era Field.
In losing to the heavily favored New England Patriots, 25-6, the Bills failed to reach the end zone for the fourth game this season. In their last five games, the Bills have scored only two touchdowns and 37 points.
On a night when they needed touchdowns, all they could produce was field goals. And that – along with two turnovers by quarterback Derek Anderson, who was forced to leave the game in the final minutes with an injury suffered on a sack – proved detrimental, even on a night when Tom Brady and the Patriots found it uncharacteristically difficult to score.
It’s the sad reality of a sad season that now stands at 2-6. But no one on defense was pointing fingers.
"It's a team game," safety Jordan Poyer said. "I don't care what anybody says ... At the end of the day, our job on defense is to put our offense in better field position to be able to score points and we fell short of that. We didn't take the ball away one time. They had two takeaways and any time you're plus-two in the turnover margin, you've got a (better) chance of winning the football game."
The Bills’ inability to generate a touchdown wasn’t for a lack of creativity. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll went deep into his bag of tricks, using direct snaps and flea-flickers, and yet they still couldn’t get anything going offensively.
Anderson, in only his second start since being signed as a free agent, made some decent throws. However, on a night when the Bills couldn’t afford to make any mistakes, he made two huge ones that led to 10 Patriot points.
The first was a lost fumble on a sack that the Patriots recovered deep in Patriots territory late in the third quarter. That set up Stephen Gostkowski’s fourth field goal in five tries to give the Patriots a 12-6 advantage.
The second was a pick-six that safety Devin McCourty returned 84 yards for a touchdown that put the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter.
It was a shame, really. The defense did all it could to give the Bills a more than reasonable opportunity to pull this one out. It slammed the door on a Patriots rushing game that was missing its best back, an injured Sony Michel.
And with the Pats unable to offer an offensive balance, it frustrated Tom Brady for much of the night. Although he threw for 324 yards, he wasn't able to make a scoring throw and was often forced to hurry his throws. Tight coverage also occasionally caused him to misfire in his attempts to thread a needle to make a completion.
"I feel like we did give our team a chance to win," defensive tackle Star Lotulelei said. "But if we did get a couple turnovers, if we did put our offense in better situations, get them a little bit closer, maybe it goes our way."
The Patriots didn’t score their only offensive touchdown until James White's 1-yard run with 9:58 remaining in the game. The Bills managed to intercept the two-point conversion, but the play sent plenty of fans, skeptical of Anderson’s chances of leading a comeback, to the exits.
"We were well-prepared," defensive end Shaq Lawson said. "We knew what they were going to do, who their guys were. We were way prepared. They just made a couple more plays than us."