It was spoken at a players meeting early in the season. Sitting at home and watching other NFL clubs participating in the playoffs was a fate they did not want to endure again this January. That fate unfortunately became reality for Buffalo's players following their loss Sunday to Washington.
With the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets both posting victories this past weekend, both will have at least nine-win seasons, something Buffalo can no longer achieve after enduring their eighth loss at FedEx Field.
"We said the biggest sin is to be home watching somebody else in the playoffs, so this is very heartbreaking," said a dejected Nickell Robey in the locker room Sunday. "We've got the team and the players and the coaches and the organization. We just couldn't get it done this year."
Finding consistency in their game proved to be difficult for most of the season. Buffalo has won back-to-back games just once this season coming off the bye week when they beat Miami and the Jets in a five day span. The rest of the year they traded wins and losses and had some back-to-back defeats. It all added up to a 6-8 mark after 14 games played eliminating them from playoff contention.
"We haven't fixed anything," said a frustrated Jerry Hughes. "We're still losing so we've got to figure something out. We've got to figure something out so we can fix it real quick."
Carrying strong weeks of practice into the games on Sunday has proven elusive leaving many of the players and head coach Rex Ryan uncertain as to why their execution isn't translating to the game field.
"I thought we had a great week of practice, but we were doing… we're turning people loose, trying to play two-man, trying to get what we want and did a poor job of executing," said Ryan. "We've just got to practice and get better and quick making mistakes and don't be afraid to make a play. Attack the football. That's something we've got to get better at obviously."
"It's frustrating," said Robey. "We tried to get it together every day in practice, walk-throughs and stuff like that. On the field for some reason we can't get it all together."
Buffalo native Corey Graham knows as well as anyone how the absence of playoff football has left the Western New York community disappointed. He puts it squarely on himself and his teammates for not finishing the job.
"Terrible. Terrible," he said. "I feel like we had the team this year to end the (playoff) drought. Obviously we came up short as a defense and as a team. We didn't win enough games. We've got to be better. We didn't find a way to get it done. We put it on our shoulders. We've got to be better. (Sunday) we [stunk] out there. When you play as bad as we played you're not going to win games."
Ryan has faith that with the talent on the roster they can and will get better. At this point the players feel they're too close to it to get an accurate assessment of the contributing factors that kept them from having more success this season. Their aim now is to finish the last two games with solid performances and take a step back after that to see what it is that's keeping them from putting together a winning formula each week.
"We can go different ways on how this thing could've went," said Robey. "We won't really know until the offseason and we get into next season. Right now everything is up on us and we can't really see anything right now. We need time to see things out and go forward from there."
"I've been in this game a long time. I understand the fans' frustration," said Ryan. "I feel personally responsible and I don't want to let our fans down. I don't more than anything. It just pains me that we couldn't deliver this year."