ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Sean McDermott didn’t mind being reminded of how the Buffalo Bills still lead the AFC East despite consecutive losses to Kansas City and Tennessee.
The Bills coach, however, understands there’s plenty that needs to be addressed if the team is going to maintain that position.
“Two good opponents, I know. But the minute losing gets easy, that’s not a good deal,” McDermott said after Buffalo dropped to 4-2 following a 26-17 loss to the Chiefs on Monday night.
“We take it hard. There’s no moral victories,” he added. “We’ve got to really take a good look at our football team and be truthful with ourselves and say, `What do we have to get corrected?’”
Where to begin?
Buffalo’s once-stout defense has been a sieve on third down, allowing the past four opponents to convert 29 of 48 opportunities, including the Chiefs finishing 9 of 14.
The Bills have given up 12 touchdowns passing, three fewer than all of last year. And in limiting Patrick Mahomes to 225 yards passing, the sixth fewest of his career, they allowed the Chiefs to pile up 245 yards rushing - the third most by an opponent in McDermott’s three-plus seasons in Buffalo.
In the meantime, the Josh Allen-led offense has begun resembling the inconsistent attack of the previous two seasons as opposed to the one which was among the NFL leaders in yards passing and points scored through the first four weeks of the season.
Though Allen had two touchdowns passing to become Buffalo’s first player with 16 through the first six games of a season, he finished 14 of 27 for 122 yards against the Chiefs. By comparison, Allen had 124 or more yards passing in each of the first 10 halves of Buffalo’s first five games this year.
Allen summed up his performance by calling it, “cruddy.”
Having fallen short in measuring up against the AFC’s elite the past two weeks, the Bills at least get a break in their COVID-19-condensed schedule in preparing to face the conference’s worst team in the winless New York Jets on Sunday.
Following an eight-day break between beating the Raiders 30-23 on Oct. 4 and a 42-16 loss to the Titans on Oct. 13, the Bills are in the midst of playing three games in 13 days.
The game at the Meadowlands is a rematch of the season-opener, in which the Bills coasted to a 27-17 win, with the Jets scoring a garbage-time TD on their final possession.
It was an outing which failed to reflect the deficiencies which have since emerged, particularly on defense, which has just 11 sacks, generated seven takeaways and forced 17 punts, though only six in the past four outings.
“These last two weeks, we got punched in the face, and we’ve got to finish this month strong,” defensive end Jerry Hughes said. “We can’t go back and change the past. But we’ve got to learn from it and we’ve got to figure out a way to get better.”
Pass protection. Allen has been sacked 10 times this season, and just twice in the past three games.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
A rushing attack that has not topped 100 yards in Buffalo’s past three, the team’s longest stretch since a four-game span from Sept. 21 to Oct. 12, 2014. It’s no wonder the Bills investigated the possibility of signing Le’Veon Bell after he was released by the Jets last week, before he eventually signed with the Chiefs.
Cornerback Tre’Davious White returned after missing one game with a back injury, and limited Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill to a season-low 20 yards receiving on three catches.
Starting defensive linemen Trent Murphy and Harrison Phillips, who were both healthy inactives and replaced by practice squad call-ups Justin Zimmer and Bryan Cox. Zimmer nearly forced a fumble in the fourth quarter before the call was overturned when replays showed running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s knee was down just before the ball popped loose at the Chiefs 30.
Starting left guard Cody Ford was carted off after hurting his right knee in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Cam Lewis, starting in place of Taron Johnson, did not return after hurting his wrist in the first half. Linebacker Tyrel Dodson, playing in place of injured starter Matt Milano (pectoral), did not return after hurting his hamstring. McDermott, on Tuesday, listed Ford, Lewis and Dodson as being week to week.
7 - Points the Bills have scored in the third quarter, which came on their opening drive of a 35-32 win over the Rams in Week 3.
The Bills can’t afford to continue their struggles against a talent-depleted Jets opponent coming off a 24-0 loss to Miami. Buffalo also can’t get caught looking ahead to the following week’s showdown against the New England Patriots.
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