The Bills limp into their bye week toting a three-game losing streak, a 2-5 record, and slumping confidence. Other than that, coach Dick Jauron's first season as coach is going swimmingly.
"We really make foolish mistakes that don't give us a chance to win the game, especially against a good opponent," said Jauron, whose team committed three turnovers and nine penalties in Sunday's 28-6 loss to the New England Patriots before a sellout crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium, where about 65,000 customers had left long before the final gun. "We have a bye to get healthy, get some work done, and step back a little bit and see where we're going. We know where we have to go but we have to figure out how to get there and get there in a hurry."
The season resumes for the Bills at home on November 5 against Green Bay.
What momentum and buzz Buffalo's encouraging 2-2 start created has quickly evaporated with losses to Chicago, Detroit and New England, each more discouraging than the next.
What has Buffalo's coaching staff most concerned is the rapid deterioration in play of third-year quarterback J.P. Losman, a 2004 first-round pick who is making it more and more difficult for Jauron to keep him in the starting lineup.
Losman, who had just three turnovers in his first four starts, has eight during the Bills' three-game slide. Against New England, he fumbled twice, once when he ran into an official, and threw a bad interception when he locked onto wide receiver Lee Evans and made it easy for cornerback Asante Samuel to jump on the deep out route.
The Bills, who passed on USC's Matt Leinart and Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler in last April's draft in order to restock their defense, need desperately for Losman to develop into a competent player or their rebuilding project will be set back significantly.
"I'm sure he can't feel real confident. We've lost three in a row now," Jauron said. "It's painful. Not just for J.P., but everybody in that locker room is really suffering. I've said it many times, they work hard in preparing and then we get to the game and it just doesn't show. We don't get the production on game day. So it's very discouraging for all of us. We have a week to regroup and we've got a lot of regrouping to do."
Losman said he's not hanging his head and will use the off week to self critique. Buffalo's offense is averaging just over 14 points a game despite moving the ball.
"The first thing I look at is myself," Losman said. "You critique yourself. What were you seeing? How were you doing with footwork? What did I do to help my team win and what didn't I do? That's all that matters to me right now."
Against New England, the Bills weren't overwhelmed statistically as they were against Chicago and Detroit, with the Patriots holding a mere 265-256 edge in yards.
But New England dominated with big plays. Corey Dillon scored on touchdown runs of eight and 12 yards for New England and quarterback Tom Brady threw touchdown passes of 35 yards to rookie Chad Jackson and five yards to new receiver Doug Gabriel.
The best Buffalo could muster was two Rian Lindell field goals of 40 and 46 yards. The game quickly turned for Buffalo when defensive end Chris Kelsay pile drove Brady after the quarterback had slid to the ground and was sitting down for a loss of minus three yards on a third-and-10 play. The roughing the passer penalty kept the drive alive and one play later, Dillon scored from 12 yards out to give his team a 14-3 lead in the first quarter.
"The roughing the passer was an unbelievable situation," said Jauron, clearly upset with his team's undisciplined play. "It's hard to figure out how that can occur when a guy sits down and we have them third and long."
The Bills' beleaguered defense did a good job of stopping rookie running Laurence Maroney (eight carries, 29 yards) on the ground. But Maroney did get loose for a 74-yard kickoff return that led to New England's second touchdown.
The victory allowed New England to sweep the season series for a third year in a row and made the Patriots 12-1 vs. the Bills since the second meeting of the 2000 season. New England has also captured seven consecutive season rematches vs. the Bills, the last five by a combined score of 150-36.
"It's embarrassing," running back Willis McGahee said.