ARLINGTON, Texas — It’s time for Bills’ fans to start worrying.
This team that started 5-2 — the losses a pair of three-pointers on the road — is suddenly in disarray on both sides of the ball.
Sunday’s 44-7 waxing by Dallas at Cowboys’ Stadium was reminiscent of some of the embarrassing blowouts endured by the teams of Dick Jauron, Mike Mularkey and Gregg Williams.
There was no stopping the Cowboys by land — 35 carries for 163 yards, 135 of them by rookie third-round draft pick DeMarco Murray — or air — quarterback Tony Romo completed his first 13 passes, was never sacked, had no interceptions and a trio of touchdown tosses on Dallas’ first three possessions.
And Buffalo’s offense, averaging 30 points over the first seven games, has scored a mere two touchdowns over the last nine quarters, both with the game out of hand.
When the Bills were leading the league in takeaways, their generous defense was less noticed. But in being manhandled by the Jets and Cowboys over consecutive weeks, Buffalo has lost the giveaway/takeaway battle 7-2 and looks nothing like the team that had fans talking playoffs in late October.
AFTER the domination in Dallas, Bills’ coach Chan Gailey admitted, “Right now we’re more of a pretender than a contender.”
And when asked about potential fallout from two straight one-sided losses, he maintained, “It can happen ... (but) my responsibility is to not let it happen.
“We’ve made progress, but you can’t play like this and see it or feel it. My responsibility as coach is to get our guys back to playing where we were playing earlier in the year.”
As safety Bryan Scott pointed out, “We have seven games left in the season ... it’s make or break at this point. A lot (of negative) is going to be said in these next few weeks. How do we respond to it?”
Added linebacker Danny Batten, “This is a trying time ... a lot of teams go through it. Good teams will rally, band together, and push through. Bad teams will fall apart and not win another game.
”That’s the point where we are (and) with the character on this football team, I have no question what will happen ... it’s just a matter of doing it. We’ve worked too hard to go 5-11, we know what that feels like.”
Still, Sunday’s defeat stung.
Cornerback Terrence McGee conceded, “They beat us (badly), it’s definitely a big blow to lose the way we did today, especially because we’re trying to make this run to the playoffs.”
In assessing the performance, inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard concluded, “You can’t point fingers at anybody ... it’s a collective effort.”
And cornerback Leodis McKelvin, beaten on one of Romo’s three TD passes, allowed, “Everybody pretty much knows the situation we’re in now ... we just lost and we’re 5-4. We know we’ve got to win in order to make that next step ... to get into the playoffs.”
Bu when fellow cornerback Drayton Florence was asked what Gailey said after the game, he almost bristled, “Coach always addresses the team (but) we’re grown men, we don’t need coach to come in and tell us where we are or what we did wrong ... we know what we did wrong.
“In order to get to the playoffs, you’re going to have to win tough games on the road (and) we’re just not doing it now. We’re a good football team ... we just didn’t show it today.”
Or last Sunday.
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com)