Skip to main content

For Bills, Coping With Latest Loss Will be Excruciating

They don't have another game to focus on following heartbreaking playoff defeat to Kansas City for second straight season.

The Buffalo Bills' 24-hour rule for celebrating wins or digesting defeats doesn't really apply to playoff losses because there's no game on which to focus the following week.

That's why Sunday night's 42-36 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs could linger for months.

They know they should have won. They also know their juggernaut offense could not have played any better.

But you won't hear that from them, of course, because they don't have any Odell Beckham Juniors on this carefully constructed roster. On Monday, just 12 hours after being stunned by a season-ending setback in Kansas City for a second straight year, the players pointed fingers only at themselves even though they know they're not to blame because they didn't make the atrocious coaching decisions on special teams and defense that squashed everything they had worked for in 13.0 seconds.

But here they are, left to deal with having their hearts ripped out for what will seem like an eternity at least to some.

Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips called it a "slippery slope," cautioning his teammates to be careful not to let their minds wander too far.

"You can fall into depression from stuff like this," he said. "I mean, your whole life, you dream of accomplishing something, all the pieces are tilted to that [being] a real possibility. And then it's ripped off you like a Band-Aid instantly, I mean with one play, 13 seconds.

"It's tough, and I mean that's why you've got to be very mature. ... You have to be mentally strong to survive in this business and survive all the negative hate that you're already hearing and that's going to be coming and be able to persevere through that and then again have that growth mindset that `I have to find ways that I can come back and be a better football player.' "

The challenge will be for the players to treat this loss the same as one in which they might have simply been outclassed. They need to hit the reset button, clearing their cache and all cookies in the process.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

"I think externally, fans or media or whatever, there's now an expectation for us to have done that again — make the AFC Championship. And if we're building something here, that means each year we're supposed to go further. And so we didn't do that this year, and maybe it feels like a bigger letdown than last year.

"... But as a player, a loss is a loss. The season's over."

What they also have to force themselves to avoid is dwelling on a season in which they were 0-for-6 in one-score games. That kind of dubious distinction never bodes well for teams looking to survive and advance in what has always been an annual postseason battle of attrition.

In fact, all four divisional-round playoff games this season were decided by the final play.

"Sometimes that's just the way the dice rolls," quarterback Josh Allen said, "and again, the opposing teams, they get paid too. But we know that's an area we have to be better in. I look forward to that challenge this offseason, whether that will be a mental- or physical-type of change that we can make as a football team and find a way to win those games, because we're going to need them. If we win a couple of those games, maybe [Sunday's game] is at Buffalo.

"So there's the importance of having home games and having the momentum and having crowd noise and all that stuff. So just a lot of knowledge that we can take from this experience that I think is going to pay off in the long run."

Finally, they can't allow themselves to be misguided enough to believe the outcome would have been any different if the NFL's overtime rules weren't so idiotic and unfair to winners of the coin flip. By the end of regulation, it was clear coach Sean McDermott and his staff had no clue how to slow Kansas City's attack anymore.

Even had the Bills been able to match the Chiefs' touchdown with an overtime possession of their own, it would be delusional to think the Chiefs wouldn't still win in sudden death.

The players have to take this loss and bury it. There can be no other way.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to Nicky300@aol.com.