1 – Turnovers sink Bills
It played like a broken record on Sunday. Buffalo was doing a lot of good things on offense, but once again turnovers compromised the performance. For the fifth time in their last six games the Bills had at least two turnovers. On Sunday their giveaway total reached four and it not only cost them valuable points, and gift-wrapped points for the Vikings, it also cost them a game they should have won.
For Stefon Diggs and many of his teammates it was hard to avoid the thought that they threw Sunday's game away.
"Yeah, I mean, we could have played a lot better," Diggs said. "But we did enough to take it to overtime. We had some clean, clean football at the end. We just didn't do enough. I feel like we're doing a lot of good things. You can't take that away from the game but there are some things we got to get fixed.
Diggs is correct that Buffalo was successful moving the football, scoring points and even getting takeaways of their own on the defensive side of the ball, but for the third straight game, the Bills were on the wrong side of the turnover margin.
Their four turnovers left them a minus-two for the game. The first came on a fumble by Devin Singletary in Minnesota territory late in the first half. Fortunately, Buffalo's defense forced a turnover on downs, but it likely took at least three points off the board for the Bills.
Josh Allen was responsible for the other three giveaways with a fourth quarter interception that the Vikings turned into a touchdown, a fumble at his own goal line that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown and an interception in the end zone in overtime that ended the game with Minnesota victorious 33-30.
"Losing sucks," said Allen. "Sucks this way even worse. Horrendous second half. I have to be better. I've got to be better."
Allen now has a total of 10 interceptions and four lost fumbles in nine games this season. Since Week 5, six (5 INTs, 1 fumble lost) of Allen's last eight turnovers have come in the red zone, with three coming in the end zone. In Allen's first four NFL seasons he had thrown just two red zone interceptions.
"We've got to do a better job there," said head coach Sean McDermott of the red zone turnovers. "We had opportunities to win the game and we've got to do a better job taking care of the football. I know I keep saying that. We talk about it every week and it makes it awfully hard to win a football game when you turn the ball over four times."
Buffalo entered the game tied for the third most turnovers in the league. With four on Sunday, they now have 18 on the season and they'll rank second only to the New Orleans Saints (19).
2 – Double digit lead disappears again
When you have a defense that allows an NFL-low 14.8 points per game, giving up double-digit leads on the scoreboard is not something that should happen all that often, if at all. But that is exactly what has transpired the past two weeks for the Bills.
Up 27-10 Sunday against the Vikings with under two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Buffalo appeared to have the game in control. But for the second straight week the Bills failed to reach the end zone in the second half, and it cost them a game.
The Vikings scored 20 unanswered points, with 14 coming off turnovers, to take the lead with under a minute to play.
A week prior, the Bills squandered a 14-3 first half lead to the Jets and dropped a three-point decision (20-17).
Buffalo has not scored a second-half touchdown since Week 6 at Kansas City.
"I would say it's mostly just execution," said Mitch Morse of the second-half struggles. "Coordinators are firing up good stuff. We've got stuff going and for us it's just executing when the moments and the stakes are the highest. And yeah, we have a lot to learn and a lot to improve on, which is a double-edged sword."
"We've got to continue to play sharp," said Diggs. "I feel like we come out in the first half, minds sharp, getting after it, and then we somewhat hit a little lull and then kind of got to get back in the groove. It seemed like when we've got to get in the groove, it's always crunch time. And we always manage to figure it out and make a way, but it'll save us (a lot of trouble) if we don't take that lull, don't take that little gasp of air. Von always says don't blink and I feel like we might be blinking a little bit, especially when we come out trying to figure it out."
Head coach Sean McDermott is going to be taking a much more investigative approach into their second half point-scoring problems.
"I think it's worth a deeper dive again this week and we look at it and study it and we haven't scored touchdowns in the second half, so we've got to go back and look at what's been different the second half and what's been different compared to the first half."
Check out the postgame meeting between brothers James and Dalvin Cook and other Bills and Vikings following Sunday's game against Minnesota.
3 – Bills surrender top spot in conference and division
Buffalo's last two losses have not only cost them the top spot in the AFC conference, but also their first place standing in the AFC East. With the Dolphins winning and the idle Jets holders of a head-to-head edge on the Bills, Buffalo suddenly finds themselves in third place in the division.
The loss also dropped Buffalo all the way to sixth in the AFC conference race, just a half game ahead of only the Los Angeles Chargers who hold the final playoff spot.
As for the players in Buffalo's locker room, their focus entering Week 11 is not on the division or conference race. They maintain their best course of action is to focus on Cleveland, their next opponent.
"I can't say it's like, the Dolphins or the Jets are right behind us," said Diggs. "That's not the world we live in. They're good teams. We're a good team. It's more about farming your own land because you can't go do anything more or less for the Jets. We play them again and Miami. That's down the line in the season but sharpening your focus will come from just always looking inward.
"It's not really looking at anything everybody else is doing. It's about everybody doing their one-eleventh (here). If everybody's doing a job, we can always come out with a mindset of why we did what we could. Can we be better? Yes. Will we be better? Yes."