The Buffalo Bills played the New England Patriots down to the wire in their 37-31 defeat on Sunday. Despite preaching the word "finish" all week, Chan Gailey's squad couldn't seal the deal when it mattered most. There are no moral victories when you're in your third year as head coach and trying to make a playoff run.
"After all the talk that I gave about finishing, we couldn’t finish," said Gailey upon taking the podium. "Had the opportunity and could not finish. There were a lot of ups and downs, good and bad in that ball game, but that’s the bottom line. We had the chance to finish and we didn’t."
Several of Buffalo's veterans have felt this sense of loss before, and the feeling of deja vu is wearing on them. Still, they know that there's a new game coming on a short week, and they'll have to move on in a hurry.
"It really gets old. It gets old and we just have to finish," said safety Jairus Byrd. "It means we didn’t do our job. We came out in the first half and the penalties hurt us, and then when they get in to the red zone it is a short field for them. We should have held them to field goals, but they were putting points on the board, touchdowns. This is getting old - at some point, this has to change."
"Yeah, it seems like there is too many of those over the years," said Kyle Williams. "We got to figure out a way in the end, the way the Patriots do, to win the game. We have a quick week, we need to get back to work and look forward."
"This is definitely tough to take, we work hard and it is the same old stuff each week, but we came back in this game," said Stevie Johnson. "We had a chance to win it and we fell short again. We can’t do anything about it but put it behind us and look forward to the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night."
Starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw a game-sealing interception with under a minute to play, noted that the Bills had a solid offensive game plan, but the team has to find a way to get the job done at the end of the game.
"I thought we fought out there," said Fitzpatrick. "Offensively, that's the kind of team and the kind of game plan - stuff that we want to do. Guys were able to get touches, we were able to get some play-action throws the way they were playing down the field a little bit. Scott (Chandler) was involved, Stevie (Johnson) was involved, Donald (Jones) did some good stuff, so we've just got to find a way to pull it out in the end."
To Fitzpatrick's point, the Bills rolled up the most first down in team history (35), got 240 yards from Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller and scored 31 points. It still wasn't enough to overcome the top offense in the NFL. When specifically asked about the defense, Gailey deflected the attention back to the offense.
"Well, you turn it over on the one, you turn it over on your own - I don’t remember what it was, but they got a short touchdown out of it, whatever it was - we just can’t turn it over," Gailey said. "We are not good enough yet to not play extremely well and win. We’ve got to play extremely well to win. We are not there yet. There are some other teams that can do that; we’re not. We’re not one of those teams. I think we are capable of getting there, but we have not gotten there and it is my job to get us there. But we’re not good enough. We can’t turn it over three times and win ball games most of the time."
At the end of the day, Gailey thinks this team still has a shot at the post-season, noting that last year's New York Giants were written off several times during the regular season.
"Still a chance, still can get there. World Champions were 9-7 last year," said Gailey. "(The loss) makes our goal harder. It does. If we could have won this one, could have made our goal easier. But, it makes our goal harder. I think we will get there. I know I am in the minority, but thank goodness I’ve got a group of guys in there that, I think, think the same thing."