Throughout the 11 days that the Buffalo Bills had to prepare for their Monday Night Football game on the road against the New England Patriots, Bills head coach Rex Ryan repeatedly told reporters that his team was better than what they showed in an ugly Week 2 loss to New England - and that their Week 11 showdown would prove how much better they were.
They're one point better, evidently. Following a 40-32 loss at home two months ago, the Bills dropped a 20-13 decision to the Patriots in Foxboro.
Trailing 10-3 at halftime due in large part to a series of missed opportunities to take a lead, and following a truly bizarre sequence in which a certain Patriots touchdown was phantom-whistled to death for no apparent reason and a field goal was missed, LeSean McCoy scored on a 27-yard run to tie the score at 10 apiece in the third quarter.
From there, it was, for the most part, all New England. Tom Brady and the offense scored 10 consecutive points to widen the gap to 20-10 - aided by a Leodis McKelvin punt return fumble that set up a field goal - and the Patriots defense held Tyrod Taylor and the Bills' passing attack in check to seal up the win. Buffalo wasted plenty of time offensively late in the game, including on a drive in which Dan Carpenter connected on a field goal to make it a one-score game, and then Taylor - playing with a very obvious right shoulder injury that bears watching this week - couldn't come close to mustering up a last-gasp drive to force overtime.
McCoy ran for 82 yards and the touchdown on 20 carries, and added 41 receiving yards on six receptions. Other than his efforts, the Bills couldn't muster up much, with slot receiver Chris Hogan (six receptions, 95 yards) the only other player of statistical significance on a rough night for the offense. Taylor completed 20-of-36 passes for 233 yards.
Buffalo was much better prepared from a coaching standpoint for this game than they were in the previous matchup - Brady was hit early and often on a good night for the Bills' defense - but in the end, the players couldn't make enough plays to win a winnable game. The loss drops the Bills to 5-5 overall, five games back of 10-0 New England, and the schedule doesn't ease up from here.
Next Sunday, the Bills will travel to take on the 5-5 Kansas City Chiefs, who have won four straight games, on a short work week. Buffalo will need to put their latest loss to New England behind them quickly; we, however, will need to talk through it. You may do so below.