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Vic Carucci: Bills’ season is effectively over ... with seven games left

Vic Carucci

If you haven’t already been poring through information on 2019 NFL draft prospects, now would be a good time.

The hot mess that is the Buffalo Bills’ 2018 season managed to get even messier with Sunday’s 41-9 loss against the Chicago Bears at New Era Field.

Here’s a bulletin: At 2-7, the Bills’ season is effectively over. With little hope of fielding a credible offense, they will spend the rest of the way playing out the string and, if they’re lucky, continuing on the path to the highest draft pick possible.

“I don’t think anybody expected to be in this position,” safety Micah Hyde said. “No one expected this, no one expected to be 2-7. ... All these guys in the locker room are high character. We all understand the position that we’re put in and we all know that we have to keep working, but at the end of the day, it’s just a tough way to go out.”

In their fourth loss in a row and sixth lopsided defeat of the season, the Bills did manage to get their first touchdown in three games. They actually generated more yards than the Bears (264 to 190), who were largely stifled by Buffalo’s defense. But too many blunders and too much sloppiness and ineptitude made the defenders’ effort meaningless.

“Yeah, the stat sheet’s going to be skewed a little bit when you look at the scoreboard and see how may yards we gave up,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “It’s kind of like the Ravens’ game, in a sense, where you look up and you’re getting blown out, but you’re not giving up that many yards. So it comes down to complementary football, not giving giving the ball away and not allowing big plays to happen.

“Defense plays well and then the offense, we’re not doing well. I mean, it’s just inconsistent, so we’ve got to be able to play better as a team, as a unit if we want to find ourselves in a position to win a game. And that’s kind of what we’re fighting for right now.”

Nathan Peterman was at quarterback, so that produced the usual disasters that tend to occur after the ball leaves his hand. He threw three interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown.

Not all were his fault. The first went off the hands of Terrelle Pryor. On the pick-six, he delivered a late throw that was behind Zay Jones, and the ball bounced off the receiver's hands and into those of linebacker Leonard Floyd (who returned it 19 yards for a touchdown) as cornerback Kyle Fuller made contact right at the line of scrimmage. Peterman's third interception was low and well short of Kelvin Benjamin.

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LeSean McCoy was at running back, but only because he was listed as such. He had eight yards on seven carries in the first half. That’s 1.1 yards per carry. He had three more attempts in the second half, including one for a two-yard loss, and finished with 10 yards. And General Manager Brandon Beane said the team is committed to having the 30-year-old McCoy on the roster next season? Good luck with that.

Good luck, too, with trying to put any sort of hopeful face on a season that can’t simply be dismissed as a “build” or “rebuild” any longer. The Bills have been outscored, 123-33, in their last four games. This is the kind of year that could very well represent as much as a seven-game slide from last year’s 9-7 playoff finish and will likely lead to serious questions about how decisions are being made.

The Bills still have four home games left. There are likely to be many, many empty seats at New Era Field, even the ones that have been sold. That's going to impact the bottom line, which always impacts how ownership looks at the team.

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Peterman was the Bills’ leading rusher with 46 yards and had the team’s only touchdown – their first since the fourth quarter against the Texans. Most of what he did with his legs was a ridiculous 24-yard run with no time left on the clock just before halftime, a situation that called for only one thing: a throw. The play showed zero awareness of the situation.

That punctuated a half in which the Bills trailed, 28-0, and the crowd booed as the home team headed for the locker room.

“It’s disheartening in the fact that we created that situation,” Alexander said. “Obviously, our fans are very passionate and very supportive of who we are, but at the same time, they're going to let us know when we're not playing up to the standard of football that they expect. And right now we deserve to get booed. That’s the way we’re playing and I understand why they’re booing us. I'm not mad at them at all.”

Neither is Sean McDermott.

“Yeah, I understand where they’re coming from, I do,” the coach said. “Believe me, I want it as bad, if not more, than they do. They deserve better, at home in particular."

Mitch Trubisky, who the Bears made the second overall pick of the 2017 draft, was hardly impressive. He threw for only 135 yards and had an interception in which he fired the ball directly to cornerback Tre’Davious White.

“I think I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t frustrated,” Hyde said. “Losing back-to-back games at home, just losing the way we just did ... I don’t know, man. I really don’t know.”

He shook his head, admitting that he couldn’t find any additional words to describe the extent of his anguish.

“You've got to start just by getting a win,” Alexander said. “I mean we're not going to be confident until we can be figure out a way to win right now.”

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