The Buffalo locker room was one of lament Sunday following the loss to Kansas City. The Bills knew it was a game that could have lasting implications with respect to the AFC Wild Card race and they were on the wrong end of it. Veteran DE Jerry Hughes, who had his head down at his locker, was tapped on the shoulder by QB Tyrod Taylor.
"Pick your head up," Taylor told him. "It's time to pull the guys together. The season is not over."
Taylor is right, despite falling a game behind the Chiefs at 6-5 along with Houston (6-5), Indianapolis (6-5), New York (6-5) and Pittsburgh (6-5) there are five games to rectify their situation. And it begins with the Texans at home on Sunday. If Buffalo wins they'll be even with the Texans at 6-6 and have the head-to-head tiebreaker.
"Of course we made it tough on ourselves with the loss (Sunday)," Taylor said. "But everything is still manageable. We've just got to take it week by week, day by day and maintain a hungry attitude and keep coming to work with a positive mindset. That's just got to be our outlook moving forward.
"That was just something I passed to the leaders, being more vocal as far as the leadership goes, and just passed it on to them so they could forward it to the people at their positions. Just keep everybody focused."
Focus was a problem in Sunday's game when a solid start was followed by inconsistency over the final two and a half quarters. The nine minutes of game clock from the end of the second quarter to the middle of the third saw the Chiefs score 17 unanswered points as they turned a nine-point deficit into an eight-point lead. A lead that Kansas City would not relinquish.
"It's really tough to swallow because the guys we have in this locker room, the amount of fight that we put into the game… but like Tyrod said when he pulled me to the side, we've got to pull the guys back together," said Hughes. "The season is not over. We just had a quick little one-on-one and he said it best. So for him to do that and just tell me to pick my head up and pull the young guys together so we can finish this season strong, that speaks volumes to the kind of character that we have.
"So that's what we're going to do. We're going to rally behind each other and keep fighting game after game."
Hughes and others in the locker room admitted they failed to execute when there were opportunities to make plays on both sides of the ball. There was no finger pointing, just an assessment as to where things stood and what needs to happen moving forward if they're to rescue their 2015 goal of reaching the postseason.
"We've got great leaders," said Sammy Watkins. "We all rallied up in the locker room and talked it out. We don't need negativity. We don't need anybody bringing us down. From here on out we've got to focus on Bills football and keep our heads up. We've got five more games to finish out the season and it's football. You don't know what's going to happen. You don't know who is going to lose two games in a row, who is going to lose to who. It's the NFL so we've just got to be positive."
As for when the younger players on the roster will be addressed by the team leaders, Hughes indicated it'll likely happen today.
"We'll be in the locker room Monday so we'll have plenty of time to let everyone know that the season is not over with," he said. "We've still got to fight."