Reality bit the Buffalo Bills hard at Lambeau Field Sunday, and their shocking upset of Minnesota Vikings a week earlier was a distant memory following the 22-0 no-show loss to the Green Bay Packers.
It was as poor an offensive performance as the Bills could have mustered as they finished with just 145 net yards (2.6 per play), 11 first downs, and never ran an offensive play in the red zone. They had 12 total possessions, and seven were of the three-and-out variety. On those seven possessions, the Bills (1-3) had a minus-19 net yards.
Sunday's loss was squarely on the offense, and coordinator Brian Daboll owned that Monday afternoon.
"Obviously, not a good showing yesterday," he said. "Didn't do well enough in any area. That's my responsibility. We're going to work hard to get it fixed, but at the end of the day, it wasn't good enough."
Head coach Sean McDermott was as pointed in his remarks about his team as he's ever been on Monday. And the offensive meltdown clearly had him furious.
"When it's not up to our standard, my tolerance isn't very high," he said. "There's been moments (of optimism). The bottom line is we're not good enough right now. We've got to come up with a better plan than we had yesterday. Running game, passing game, hits on the quarterback. There are a lot of hands in that jar."
The Bills defense was not great by any measure as it allowed 423 yards and 11 of 19 third-down conversions, but it held the Packers to two touchdowns. A slow start hurt as Green Bay led 16-0 at the half, but all in all, against Aaron Rodgers, the Bills can live with that effort.
What kills the Bills is that it's a cascading effect for them on offense. One thing leads to another and they do not have the talent to overcome problems when things get off schedule. It starts up front where the offensive line just can't get any push and the running game has been completely stymied. Running back LeSean McCoy, in the three games he has played, has a total of 85 yards rushing.
Once the run game is stuffed and the Bills get into difficult down-and-distance situations, the struggles really get exacerbated. The wide receivers can't win matchups or get any separation, so Allen ends up holding the ball too long, and the line can't hold up. The Bills have lost 160 yards to sacks thus far, an average of 40 per game.
Allen has played exactly the way so many expected he would, at least early on. He had difficulty with his accuracy in college, and at 53.4 percent so far in the NFL, that's still the case. He was horrendous in the first half, going 5 of 19 for 58 yards with one terrible pick that cost the Bills a chance at a field goal. In the second half, not much changed and it was only late in the game when he started to complete a few passes against Green Bay's softened defense.
"Just understanding what I can and can't do," Allen said, trying to explain his performance. "Obviously, the interception before the half took three points away from us, at least ... so that's one I want back. The one I threw to (Kelvin Benjamin, who got hammered as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix made the pick), I can't lead him into a split safety. That's my fault. And I've got to continue to get better and understand what's going on around me, and just feel it better."
These things are not going to happen quickly. In fact, they may not happen this season because Allen has no one he can rely on to make a play for him in just about any situation.
"We just need to do all we can to be there for him," tight end Charles Clay said. "Not just him, but all our teammates. As a whole we just have to be better."
The Bills scored 27 points in the first half against Minnesota, and in the other 14 quarters this season -- 10 of which they've been held scoreless -- they have a mere 23 points.
Combined this season, Benjamin, Clay and Zay Jones, who are supposed to be the playmakers in the passing game, have 25 catches for 325 yards and one touchdown.
And that has led to this: The Bills are dead last in the NFL in yards per play (3.68), yards per first-down play (2.99), net yards passing per game (133.0) and per attempt (4.38), interception percentage (5.0 percent), sacks per pass attempt (17.4 percent) and third-down conversions (24.1 percent). They are second to last in points scored with 50, first downs per game (13.5), and yards per game (220.8).
--QB Josh Allen had a miserable day as he completed 16 of 33 passes for 151 yards, he threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and was sacked seven times.
--RB LeSean McCoy was held to 24 yards on five carries and caught three passes for 13 yards. He has just 85 yards rushing in the three games he has played.
--RB Marcus Murphy was held out of the game with a rib injury, but McDermott thinks he'll be OK to return this week.
--WR Kelvin Benjamin caught just one pass for 34 yards, and he left the game briefly in the third quarter with a head injury, though he was able to return.
--SS Micah Hyde, in his return to Green Bay, lasted less than a quarter as he suffered a groin injury and could not finish the game. He will be week-to-week according to McDermott.