The frustration level at times has reached the boiling point for the 2009 Bills. Missed opportunities, an inability to close out games and some persistent shortcomings have made for a 4-8 record and another season with the playoffs out of reach. But it hasn't changed the approach of the players in Buffalo's locker room.
Coming off the field after practice early this week, the players made it clear that finishing strong is top priority with four games to play.
"A lot of guys here just like to go out and compete and that's the number one thing we have to do," said leading rusher Fred Jackson. "We are professionals and this is what we do for a living and a lot of guys just want to go out winning."
"Right now it's just about playing for each other and trying to get some momentum to end this season on a good note," said Lee Evans. "That's how you've got to approach it, and stay professional and work every down."
As difficult as the season has been, a win last Thursday alone would have at least kept them in the hunt in the division after Miami's win over New England Sunday. Buffalo's loss to the Jets however, vanquished that opportunity.
"It's tough," said Jackson of the AFC East race. "We can't focus on that. We have to focus on what we have to go get taken care of and we have Kansas City this week. That's what a lot of guys are doing. We're preparing for Kansas City and that's what we have to do."
"We had a shot," said Evans. "That's really all you can ask for is a chance or a shot and we had one and didn't capitalize on it. Even thinking about last week playoffs weren't really in the picture. We really have to take it one game at a time and right now we're pretty much out of it, and it's for each other, staying together and closing out the season."
At the top of the list in terms of their play on Sundays is showing some measure of improvement on third downs on offense and more effectively stopping the run on defense.
"It's frustrating because the things that we're doing are easily correctable and it's agitating because you see it's just a breakdown here or there and we're right there at the end of games we're just a play away," said Kyle Williams. "When we needed to play offense we didn't make it and when we needed to make a play on defense we didn't make it. It's frustrating for the most part to be that close and have it within grasp and almost every time it slips away. I think if you're a true competitor and you love to play and you love this game, it hurts."
"There's a thin line between winning and losing in this league," said Evans. "You've got to make the plays when you get an opportunity. Most games are close. To be a good football team you have to figure out how to win games down the stretch and we haven't been able to do that consistently."
Interim head coach Perry Fewell gave the team a three-day weekend off in an effort to recharge the team physically after three games in 11 days. To a man the players did feel they had fresher legs back underneath them.
"Better. A lot better," said Jackson. "It was a great time for us to get that much needed rest."
And though there won't be major playoff implications on the line this Sunday when the Bills face the Chiefs in Kansas City, the players are committed to giving their level best. "I know when I put on my helmet and my cleats on and put my hand on the ground I come to fight and I come to play," said Williams. "I think a lot of guys are like that. Playoffs or no playoffs, whatever, I have the same expectations when I suit up as I do in the first game or the last game. I want to win, I want to go out and compete and I want to play good football. I think most of the guys in the room here are like that. I don't see why they would be down and just sleep walk through the last four games."