ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – “Sloppy” was a key word for Sean McDermott describing a 14-10 loss to New England on Monday Night Football.
I’ll choose another: “physicality” or lack thereof in this case.
After starting the season 4-1, the Bills have gone 3-4 in the last seven games. They haven’t won back-to-back since beating the Texans and Chiefs in weeks four and five. And in these losses there are similar patterns.
McDermott preaches the importance of winning up front and that’s where games are won and lost. In the games they’ve lost, they’ve gotten pushed around at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
“Not good enough,” McDermott said when asked where the level of physical play is.
“You gotta be able to run the football and you gotta be able to stop the run and those things don’t change, the message hasn’t changed in terms of physicality, the necessity for physicality and what we do. That’s why we start training camp the way we do with running the football and you gotta win the line of scrimmage.”
The Bills knew exactly what New England wanted to do and they still had no answers for it. The Patriots ran for 222 yards in a game where their rookie quarterback only attempted three passes the entire night. Damien Harris ended with 111 yards on the ground including a 64-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
On the other side of the ball, while the Bills couldn’t stop the run, they also couldn’t get it going. The only consistency has been inconsistency for Buffalo when it comes to running the ball this season. It’s been a theme all year long and something that might not be fixable this late in the season.
“We’re gonna try our darnedest to fix it. It’s tough, I’m not gonna sit up here and lie to you guys. To fix that part of your game this part of the year is tough. That’s why we try like heck to do it in training camp, that’s where you develop the toughness of a football team and that’s why we run the football in training camp,” McDermott said.
After the game McDermott pumped the brakes fast on giving too much credit to Bill Belichick but then went on to list all the ways Belichick came into Orchard Park once again and out coached McDermott on national television in a game that first place in the division was on the line.
“Let’s not give more credit than we need to give credit to Bill Belichick in this one. It was, whether it’s Bill or anyone, they beat us. When you sit here and you tell me when we start with the average starting field position at the 40 yard line and he starts at the 23 yard line, and I’m rounding up in both cases, and we were 1 for 4 in the red zone and they were 0 for 1 in the red zone, you give me that ahead of time I’ll say I like my chances,” McDermott said.
Which further proves the point of just how much Belichick schooled McDermott on his home turf.
“With all due respect it’s not a Bill Belichick type thing, it’s what are you doing with the opportunities you got? What are you doing with the opportunities you got. We turned the ball over at the plus 30-some yard line, sloppy football, sloppy football.”
Not being able to stop the run, not being able to run the ball and struggling to execute in the red zone are all common themes in losses this season and trends we saw once again against New England as the Bills lose ground in the division race.
“Spiraling out of control” is fair to describe how things are going for the Bills right now but Josh Allen said he wouldn’t go that far. But when you look at the playoff picture and the remaining games on the schedule, having to play Tom Brady and the Bucs in Tampa next week not to mention go to New England the day after Christmas, it seems like a fair way to sum up the situation in Orchard Park.
“We’re pissed off because we want to be great, we’re pissed off for greatness and we expect so much out of ourselves and when we don’t play the way we know how we can play,” Allen said after the game.
“We gotta win the close ones, we gotta find a way. We were 1 for 4 in the red zone tonight, didn’t play good enough and I take that very personally,” Allen said.