Here's the Bills news of note for Dec. 5th.
1 - Keeping their composureIt happened fast. Everything was pointing toward a rare December road win for Buffalo at a venue where success has been hard for the Bills to acquire over the years. Then their 15-point third quarter lead vanished in a span of just under 10 minutes of game clock. Once the Raiders snowball starting rolling downhill the Bills seemed almost powerless to stop it. But why? How?
The players in Buffalo's locker room chalked it up to a lack of composure. When adversity struck they were unable to stay calm, focus in and execute, on offense, defense or special teams.
"That's one of our problems we have to clean up," said Sammy Watkins. "When a team makes their surge we've got to keep our composure. I don't think we handled that well in any game. We've got to start keeping our composure, play the next play, and move on from it. We always get riled up and we're yelling and stuff like that. We have to stay composed."
By getting riled up by what was happening on the field, the Bills could not focus in and recapture the momentum of the game.
"Things are going to happen. Adversity is going to come and we've got to be able to pick ourselves up and keep the game moving," said Jerry Hughes. "I just felt like we got down on ourselves and beat ourselves up and there was still another quarter left. Plenty of football left. So we've just got to focus on that and keep the team morale high."
The speed at which the Raiders seized control almost seemed to almost put some of Buffalo's players in a state of shock.
"Shocked. No, you're right," said LeSean McCoy. "We felt like we controlled the game. In the first half when it was close I felt we had control. Defense was making stops, offense, we were driving. In the second half, we couldn't finish it out for the most part. It just happened so fast. We couldn't move the ball against them. It got bad."
And when it got bad the Bills couldn't do anything to seize the momentum back.
"We had the early momentum and we had to do a better job of holding onto the momentum, especially in a road game," said Tyrod Taylor. "Whenever you can get momentum you have to continue to keep building off of that."
But when a team loses its composure it's hard to rally and then the collective confidence of the unit can be affected. That's what head coach Rex Ryan felt he saw.
"Sometimes I think we lose confidence when we should be… you can't ever have that happen to you," said Ryan. "We were just on our heels. That's what it seemed like to me. Sometimes that's where you have to step up and be aggressive and want that ball to come to us. You kind of get that feeling sometimes where it's just not happening for us. We've got to make it happen."
2 - Playoff hopes getting slimSunday's loss dealt a severe blow to Buffalo's playoff hopes. Under a win out scenario the best they can do is 10-6, and it's evident that a 10-win season may only give the Bills about a 50-50 shot to reach the postseason knowing there's a strong likelihood that tiebreakers become part of the equation.
Right now Buffalo sits in 10th place with one other 6-6 team ahead of them in Tennessee, which right now has the common games tiebreaker edge. The Bills still have to play Cleveland and they get Miami again, two teams the Titans have beaten.
Following Sunday's loss the players know the kind of position they're in now and have no one to blame but themselves.
"I wanted to win this game for a statement," said LeSean McCoy. "They are a good football team, and they showed what kind of team they are. It's just that I know what type of team we are. We were right there, we had it. I just feel like this was a game we had in our hands and we let it slip away."
"We knew that this game was going to be a must win for us and moving forward they're going to be," said Tyrod Taylor. "We just made it tougher on ourselves, but we have the guys in our locker room to bounce back. As far as moving forward we just have to go out there and win."
The Bills do face two opponents in the next three weeks that sit a game ahead of them in the standings in Pittsburgh (7-5) and Miami (7-5), which could help them make up ground, but catching Kansas City (9-3) and Denver (8-4), who currently hold the two AFC Wild Card spots seems like a steep challenge, even if Buffalo wins out.
3 - No stops in goal to goBills head coach Rex Ryan and his defensive staff identified it as the key problem hurting their red zone defense. It wasn't what was happening once opponents got inside their 20-yard line. It was what was happening after their opponent was in 1st-and-goal.
Ryan stated last week that on 12 out of 22 goal-to-go plays opponents had scored. In fact in situations of 1st-and-goal from the five-yard line this season, the Bills have given up a touchdown every single time.
The defensive staff tried to come up with some adjustments to better address that problem, even making use of practice squad call up DT DeAndre Coleman who goes 341 pounds to fill up the defensive gaps.
Oakland had other ideas. The Raiders went three-for-three in their goal to go situations Sunday tacking on three more touchdown against Buffalo's defense this season.
"It just came down to them making plays and we didn't. I can't tell without watching the film what exactly happened, but they made the plays and they stepped up and were able to put points up on the board in the second half and we just didn't execute our game plan as we were doing earlier in the game."
All three goal-to-go situations for the Raiders that wound up being touchdowns came in the second half. The first a three-yard touchdown catch by Michael Crabtree. The last two came on Latavius Murray runs from one and three yards out.
"He's a great back," said Shaq Lawson of Murray. "He's punching it in. We've just got to come together as a defense."