ORCHARD PARK — When the Bills said they were going to have a “White Out” on Sunday, little did we realize they meant the memory of the game against the Jets at “The Ralph.”
The 28-11 loss to New York would best be whited out, except for its profound impact.
In one game, Buffalo went from the AFC elite to also-ran, and now faces three straight toughies on the road.
It’s the kind of stretch that can turn 5-3 into 5-6 in a span of 15 days.
By losing to their division rivals, instead of being tied with Cincinnati and Baltimore atop the AFC at 6-2 and having a one- and two-game lead, plus head-to-head advantage over the Pats and Jets, respectively, the Bills are in a three-way tie atop the East.
Buffalo still holds the head-to-head edge over New England, but not New York.
AND UPCOMING for the Bills are games against the rejuvenated Cowboys in Dallas, the Dolphins, who manhandled the Chiefs in Kansas City and should have beaten the Giants on the road, and the Jets, who haven’t lost at the Meadowlands.
When asked about Sunday’s defeat and the possibility of it producing a four-game losing streak, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick contended, “I don’t think, with the guys in our locker room, that’s going to be an issue.
“I know everybody’s upset ... not happy with the way we played, not happy that we lost the game, but it’s one of those things where just like a win you move on from it ... you throw yourself fully in to the next week’s opponent.”
STILL, there was almost a sense of surprise in the Buffalo lockerroom, losing a game so decidedly after winning five of the first seven, the two losses by a field goal on the road.
Inside linebacker Nick Barnett admitted, “I don’t think we played our best game, for sure. The Jets, I give it up to them, I give them credit, they went out there and they played well. We didn’t and big games like this where we’ve got to have it, we’ve got to show up.
“We've got eight more games ... we’re not going to throw it all away; not going to cash in right now. We’ve got a lot of football left and I’ve got a lot of confidence that we can come out with wins.”
Wide receiver Stevie Johnson agreed.
“We’re still in it but (this was) a game you don't want to lose,” he said.
“We’ve got action in this division and it’s an exciting division now that the Buffalo Bills are playing well.”
Still, Sunday’s loss bothered him.
“We didn’t show up how we usually do,” Johnson admitted. “I give them all respect, I give them props, they came in and handled business.
“I can't say we don’t know how to handle it, I think we can. It was just one of those games where we came out flat in the first half and they were on point.”
But he added, “It’s disappointing because everybody knows this is somewhat like a rivalry with the Jets. Nobody wants to lose to the Jets, that’s how we feel in (this lockerroom). (Now) we’ve got to be ready for them in three weeks.
“In this league, you’ve got to play a full game, you’ve got to play 60 minutes. In the past we’ve played 30 minutes and snuck away with a win but that’s not going to happen every week.”
And certainly not the next three.
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com)