ORCHARD PARK — Kyle Williams isn’t interested in moral victories ... especially against the Patriots.
And Sunday afternoon at sold-out Ralph Wilson Stadium, after leading nemesis New England for 26 minutes of the second half, Williams and his 52 Buffalo Bills’ teammates watched helplessly as Stephen Gostkowski’s 35-yard field goal sail through the uprights with five seconds to play.
It produced a 23-21 Pats’ victory ... the latest heartbreaker in a current series that has been marked by its share of blowouts, but also with a handful of gut-wrenchers.
Quarterback Tom Brady, who engineered the winning drive, is 21-2 in his career versus the Bills and New England’s triumph was its 18th in the last 19 games against Buffalo.
And all of that wears on Williams, the longest-tenured Bill, who has endured 13 of those losses (he missed a 2011 defeat due to injury) — against one victory, — in his 8-year career.
That experience, and his brutally frank assessment of his own play and that of his teammates earned him the ‘C’ as defensive captain.
But Sunday afternoon, in the quiet post-game lockerroom, Williams felt he had lived it all before against the AFC’s elite team, which has been that for the past dozen seasons and one that came into the game a 10-point favorite.
“THIS SEASON started in March and you go through a lot to get ready to play,” he said. “And just because you’all said we were going to get beat by 50 and we lose by (two), that doesn’t make me feel any better.
“I’m here to win. We’ve got to find a way to make the plays at the end of the game.”
That’s an old Buffalo refrain which dates back a dozen years when it comes to losing to the Patriots.
“If I had a dollar for every tough (loss) with those freaking guys ... it makes me vomit,” Williams said, a bit indelicately.
But here’s what’s interesting. The number of close defeats by the Patriots in the 24 games they’ve won since the second meeting of 2000, is only seven by a touchdown-or-less, five by one, two or three points.
However, three of the latter have been on Williams’ watch and all of them sting.
“You come down to two, three plays ... in his game one,” he said. “That’s the reason they’ve been so successful because (Brady) made those plays.
“We had an opportunity to make it and we didn’t do it and that’s the reason we lost. You’re called upon to win a football game ... to make a play, and you don’t. So that’s where we are.”
And Williams was taking no solace from being part of a team with a new general manager (Doug Whaley), new head coach (Doug Marrone) and the NFL’s third-youngest roster being led by a rookie quarterback, taking a member of the NFL elite to the final seconds.
“Hopefully you learn from it,” Williams said, unconvincingly of the loss. “You wake up tomorrow and (maybe) you’re better for it. But it doesn’t seem like it right now.”
“You talk about a sense of disappointment ... it’s devastating,” he said. “It’s hard because there’s a greater calling.
“Granted, we put in a lot of work and we’re going to get better, but we know what people want and we know what the region wants.”
Marrone added, “When we go out there and have opportunities and (we) can’t win that game, I’m letting them down. We’re all letting people down. But we’ll continue to fight and I can promise you that we will get better.”
Just not fast enough for Kyle Williams.
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)