Bills' loss extends playoff drought to 15 seasons
Make that 15, Sammy.
Bills players young and old are dealing with the all-too-familiar frustrations of being on the outside looking in Monday, a day after extending the NFL's longest active playoff drought following a 26-24 loss at Oakland.
''As a player who's always been to the playoffs, who's never lost over eight games, it hurts,'' Watkins said. ''I'm not used to losing. And hopefully, we fix it next year and get back on the right page.''
Buffalo's drought is now tied as the NFL's 10th longest, and worst since the St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals went 15 years between playoff appearances from 1983-97.
At least Watkins had a chance to crack a smile Monday. The first-round draft pick spoke while joining fellow rookies on a visit to Buffalo's Women's and Children's Hospital to deliver Christmas gifts and make holiday crafts.
''It hurts to lose the game, but it's very important to wake up and start the day and come here and impact other people's lives,'' he said. ''So I looked forward to just getting out of bed and not looking back on the game. It's over with.''
The Bills (8-7) are left playing a mean-nothing finale (for them) at AFC East rival New England (12-3) on Sunday.
All that's on the line for Buffalo is an opportunity to win its first game at New England since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, and finish with a winning record for the first time since going 9-7 in 2004.
The loss to the Raiders (3-12) was a stunner, and exposed many of Buffalo's season-long deficiencies on offense.
''It just breaks your heart,'' quarterback Kyle Orton said. ''It was all there. We just didn't have the execution. And in the end, it cost us.''
The slow-starting offense managed just 10 points and 145 yards on its first 10 possessions. It closed by generating two touchdowns and 166 yards on its last four drives in a rally that fell short.
That wasn't enough to overcome an uncharacteristically sloppy outing by a usually stingy defense.
''There really aren't any words for how disappointed I am just with myself and the way we played in general,'' safety Aaron Williams said. ''We just let it slip away.''
The offense provided little help.
On 13 carries, Buffalo managed 13 yards, the fourth-lowest total in team history.
The ground game has sputtered all season in having managed 1,378 yards through 15 games. The Bills' low for a 16-game season is 1,552 set in 2006.
Coach Doug Marrone blamed the offensive line.
''They kicked our butt up front,'' Marrone said. ''When you do that, it's difficult to run, pass and do a lot of things.''
The loss renewed questions regarding Marrone's job security after his second season. The franchise is entering a new era under owners Terry and Kim Pegula, who purchased the team in October.
The Pegulas previously expressed a desire to wait until after the season to evaluate the franchise so as not to distract the team.
After beating Green Bay last week, Bills President Russ Brandon voiced his support for Marrone by saying the coach has the team on the right path. Following the loss at Oakland, Marrone insisted he's not going anywhere when asked about a report linking him to the vacancy at Michigan.
''I have nothing to do with that job,'' Marrone said. ''You're stuck with me. Fortunately or unfortunately.''
AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in Oakland, California, contributed to this report.
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