The day after their humiliating 56-10 loss to the Patriots on national television, the Bills were back at work in the film room, hoping to learn from their mistakes and planning to put that knowledge to use over the final six critical weeks of a season that is far from over for them.
"We just have to let this one go because the one coming up is real big, and if we want to have any chance of playing in the postseason, we need to get this one," wide receiver Lee Evans said.
The one he was talking about is Buffalo's visit Sunday to Jacksonville. The Bills are 5-5 and still very much in the AFC wild-card hunt. Now they get to play the team that leads the wild-card chase, and if they can bounce back from the horror show that was their performance against New England and beat the Jaguars, they would own a head-to-head tiebreaker that could come in handy at the end of the season.
"It's a big one for us," Evans said.
That was the message coach Dick Jauron sent to his team. Jauron spoke about how the loss to New England had to be filed away and forgotten, because whether the Bills lost by four or six or 46, it was still just one loss in a 16-game season.
"We have six games to go in the season to determine if we go any further than that, and that's our goal," Jauron said. "We are deeply disappointed by it, but we have to get by it real fast."
Two big questions surround the Bills as they begin to look ahead to the showdown in Jacksonville, their second trip to Florida in three weeks:
First, what will be the status of rookie running back Marshawn Lynch? Lynch sat out the New England debacle with a sprained ankle, and it is uncertain whether he will be able to dress this week. If he can't, it's a severe blow because unlike the Patriots game, Buffalo will need to run the ball because it figures to be a much tighter contest.
With aging Anthony Thomas and rookie fourth-round pick Dwayne Wright, the Bills simply don't have the ability to move the ball on the ground and control the clock. Lynch gives Buffalo a chance against just about every other opponent except New England.
On Monday, Jauron said of Lynch, "Based on what I know about Marshawn, I wouldn't count him out. He came so far the first week, and he was so determined that he was going to play the whole week until Saturday when I told him he was not going to play. So I don't want to discount him ever because he did heal fast, but it is a substantial injury, so I'm not optimistic."
Second, who will be the quarterback? J.P. Losman had regained his starting job from rookie Trent Edwards by leading the Bills to three straight victories before the wipeout against the Patriots. But he was not sharp in a victory over Miami two weeks ago, and the Patriots made him -- and the rest of the Bills -- look like high schoolers.
Losman has experience over Edwards, and while Jauron wouldn't make it official, he did say, "I don't anticipate any changes, and that includes the quarterback position."
Regardless of who plays running back or who plays quarterback, the Bills need to play much better all the way around, in every phase, because going on the road and winning in Jacksonville will require their best game.
"It hurts to lose the football game, but our pride is still there, and we'll come out next week and play hard and give ourselves an opportunity to win that football game," strong safety Donte Whitner said.
--It was a night of epic futility for the Bills in their 56-10 loss to New England. The 46-point margin of defeat was a club record, surpassing a 43-0 loss to the Baltimore Colts in 1971. Randy Moss' four TD receptions were the most ever yielded in one game. And the 56 points were the most allowed by an NFL home team since host New Orleans lost 62-7 to Atlanta in 1973. Also, the 56 points tied the second most Buffalo has allowed in a game, matching the 56 Seattle scored in 1977, and was two short of the record 58 the Colts put up in a 1976 game.
--The Bills played their first game of the year without rookie RB Marshawn Lynch, but they hardly missed him because his presence would have meant nothing to the outcome of the game. In his place, Anthony Thomas carried 11 times for 31 yards and caught three passes for 15 yards. Lynch's status for Sunday's game in Jacksonville is very much up in the air, and there is a chance he won't be able to dress in a game the Bills will desperately need to win if they hope to remain in the thick of the AFC wild-card playoff chase.
--Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell joked early last week that he didn't like any matchup against Patriots WR Randy Moss. He was smiling at the time, but he wasn't smiling Sunday night after Moss caught touchdown passes against all four of Buffalo's starting defensive backs -- Terrence McGee, Jabari Greer, Donte Whitner and George Wilson. "They made plays today, and there were a lot of plays that we didn't make," Greer said in an understatement almost as great as Moss' record-setting performance. Thanks primarily to Tom Brady's 373 passing yards, the Patriots rolled up 510 yards and 30 first downs, and they scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions.
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