The Bills lost a heartbreaker on Monday Night Football as a last-second field goal by Wil Lutz gave the Broncos a 24-22 win.
Buffalo has now lost two games in a row for the first time this season and are 5-5 on the year.
Here's the top 3 things we learned from Bills vs. Broncos:
1 — Broncos game-winning FG sinks Bills comeback
The Bills had practiced the scenario before. Bills head coach Sean McDermott shared postgame that the Bills had worked on the quick substitution from their defense into the field goal unit during practice this week.
"We practiced two or three times that this week, the substitution from dime to field goal block. And at the end of the day, we didn't execute it," he said.
Wil Lutz' 41-yard kick with :04 second left sailed just right and it appeared the Bills would escape with a 22-21 win. But Buffalo was flagged for 12 men on the field and the down would be replayed. With the ball moved up five yards, Lutz drilled his second attempt to hand the Bills the loss.
"It's inexcusable," McDermott said of the penalty.
Much like their Week 7 game against New England, the Bills didn't have a lead until their final offensive drive, then handed the keys over to the defense to drive home a win. Josh Allen gave the Bills their first lead of the night on a 6-yard TD run with 1:55 to play.
Broncos QB Russell Wilson got into Buffalo territory four plays into the drive, then moved the ball to the Buffalo 39 yard-line. McDermott felt that was within range for Lutz.
"The field goal line we felt was the 40 yard line," McDermott said.
The Bills drew up a blitz and got to Wilson, knocking Denver back to the 45 thanks to A.J. Epenesa. The Broncos called their final timeout. Buffalo called another blitz, but this time the result went in the opposite direction.
Wilson got the ball out in time, lofting a deep pass to Jerry Jeudy. The ball was underthrown and Bills CB Taron Johnson felt the brunt of the underthrow as he was called for pass interference. Johnson said postgame he wasn't sure what he did wrong to draw the flag.
"I got to him and I looked back for the ball. And I tried to make the play on the ball. So it's just frustrating," Johnson said.
McDermott explained his decision to blitz on consecutive plays was that he wanted to continue to be aggressive.
"You're not working with, you know, 35 yards of real estate, you're working with a set window of real estate. Russell had done a good job against the four-man rush, scrambling and making plays with his feet and so I just was if we're gonna go down we're gonna go down being aggressive," he said.
Starting from the Buffalo 19-yard line, the Broncos kneeled three straight times to drain Buffalo's final two timeouts, then raced their field goal unit on as the clock ticked. The sequence of events that unfolded after resulted in the Bills first loss at Highmark Stadium this season.
"Guys are upset and they're frustrated. When you don't get the results you're looking for and you don't have the production you're looking for, they get frustrated," McDermott said.
2 — No margin for error
A week after turning the ball over twice in a Sunday Night loss against the Bengals, the Bills had double that amount eight days later. Four turnovers for the Bills (two INTs, two fumbles) prevented the offense from finding the momentum they had been seeking over the last month of play.
"Sucks. Shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. Just a lot of bad football. A lot of bad football," Bills QB Josh Allen said.
The Bills have had 2+ turnovers in 6 of their 10 games this season; they have 2 games (Jets, Broncos) with 4 turnovers.
"Can't turn the ball over period, let alone four times and field position can't start at the minus 40 or whatever it was, minus 41. That's not good enough," McDermott said.
The timing of the Bills four turnovers: the first play from scrimmage, in the red zone on the series after the fumble, right before halftime and the series right after Buffalo tied the game at 15-15.
The Bills defense stuck together and held the Broncos to just six points following a turnover, earning the praise of their head coach.
"Talk about four turnovers and the ball at the minus 40 as a starting spot, five defensive starters out, those guys played their asses off, they really did. So I applaud them for it. Certainly work to do there as well, but they played hard and I appreciate that," McDermott said.
A disappointed Allen said the Bills still have the belief in each other to make a run, but that they'll have to pick up the urgency in order to reach the playoffs.
"Yeah, I'm still confident. But it's no secret. The clock's ticking. Gotta have some urgency now," he said.
3 — Leaning into the ground game
On a night in which Allen was held to his second fewest passing yards in a game this year, it was the Buffalo running game that came to life and gave them a chance to win.
Outside of James Cook's fumble to open the game and the bad handoff in the third quarter, the Bills running backs had a great showing, combining for 189 scrimmage yards.
Cook was kept off the field for 16 plays following his fumble, giving way to Latavius Murray who had 32 rushing yards in the first quarter. Cook returned in the second quarter, still with the belief from the coaching staff that he could bounce back.
"I told him I believe in him, I can tell you that. Whether that was play 15 or whatever, I told him I believe in him and I thought he came out and ran the ball better," McDermott said.
Murray, who had the game-tying TD run against his former team, said Cook's ability to bounce back kept the Bills in contention for a victory. Together, Cook and Murray averaged 8.4 yards per carry.
"He was a big reason why we had a chance to win the game at the end," Murray said of his backfield mate.
RB Ty Johnson also got his first touch of the season, a two-yard carry.
Buffalo gained 192 yards on the ground, its highest total in any game this season.
Check out the best game photos from the Bills Week 10 matchup against the Denver Broncos. This gallery is presented by Gabe's Collision.