ORCHARD PARK — Here’s what I like about Doug Marrone ... he hasn’t been an NFL coach long enough to sound like one.
And on Sunday afternoon at “The Ralph,” after his Bills had dominated the undefeated Chiefs, but lost, 23-13, on two defensive touchdowns, Marrone sounded every bit the fan.
He stepped to the podium looking mentally exhausted and bitterly disappointed.
“Obviously it hurts,” he said, sadly. “It hurts me, it hurts the guys in that room ... I hurt for them, I hurt for our fans.
“It’s a tough one. We knew coming in that (Kansas City) scored a lot of points off turnovers. They had 17 off (today). It’s so close (for Buffalo) from being a good football team in this league.”
Marrone added, “You saw it, they’re an 8-0 football team, 9-0 now and we’re 3-6. When it’s time to make the plays you have to make the plays and we didn’t do that.
“It hurts because we’ve got great fans, great people, guys play hard. They work their (butts) off during the week. We work hard as coaches and you get on that field and ... this one hurts.”
He admitted, “I’m not going to stand here and say we should’ve won the game because obviously we didn’t (and) everyone knows the (turning) point in the game was that drive coming out of half.”
Marrone’s reference was to the fateful play early in the third period.
Buffalo, already up 10-3, took the second-half kickoff and drove 79 yards to a 1st-and-goal at the Chiefs’ 1-yard-line.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo’s most dependable short-yardage back, carried twice for no gain.
On third down, rookie quarterback Jeff Tuel, arguably the Bills’ fourth- or fifth-string QB, threw toward wide receiver T.J. Graham in the right flat. But KC’s huge cornerback, 6-foot-3, 218-pound Sean Smith, stepped in front of Graham at the goalline, intercepted and motored 100 yards for the TD.
Instead of 17-3 Buffalo, it was 10-10, and the wheels were set in motion for one of the most depressing Bills’ losses in recent memory.
“WE DON’T punch it in with a goal line formation,” Marrone recalled. “We go to the next formation ... it was a play that was working for us well during the game.
“ If there’s an all out pressure we (can) throw it. They were in all out, and (Smith) comes off of (wide receiver) Stevie Johnson ... doesn’t cover him (and) was standing right there when we’re throwing the ball in the slot. (It was as if) they knew exactly what we were doing. We wound up throwing a pick and not only did we throw a pick, we threw a pick six.”
When asked if he questioned coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s play-call, Marrone said, “Situationally, do you question the play call? No. Do you question the execution of it? Yes.
“I’m definitely frustrated. Guys work hard all week, the fans come and they do a great job and we have a chance to really get a good score and a good lead in this game. We earn ourselves a drive to get down there and we can’t finish it.”
He admitted, “I’m (bleeped, but) I’m going to use that type of energy. I’m going to go home, not talk to anybody, just shut it down. I’m going to be by myself, I’m not going to pet my dog and I’m going to get fired up.”
Marrone concluded, “I’m going to come to work tomorrow, I’m going to watch this film, I’m going to be a pro, I’m going to be a man. I’m just going to look at it and what can we do better ... how do we coach things better situationally?
“What can I do first? What can the coaches do second? Then we’re going to go to work and get ready to go. We’re not out of the playoffs. We’re a good football team that’s not making the plays that we have to make. We play extremely hard, we fight through adversity, but we’re just not making the plays at the times that we need to make them. And that’s everybody.”
Of course, Bills’ fans know all about that ... and have for a long time.”
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)