I was too young to remember the Buffalo Bills' four consecutive Super Bowl runs and the heartbreak that surrounded each of those losses.
I recognize I’m about to compare that near half-decade of failure to one regular season game, but let me be dramatic, please. Let me have this one moment.
The Bills losing on Sunday on a last-second Hail Mary, after a heroic comeback of their own, stings. There’s just no doubt about it.
To make things even worse, if that’s possible, the Miami Dolphins now find themselves a half-game back of the Bills with Buffalo heading to their bye week.
More than likely, the finality of the Bills' season won’t come down to one DeAndre Hopkins catch, but it could if the Bills let that moment define their 2020 season. I’m confident that it won’t, but for a mentally weak team, the sort of loss the Bills just experienced on Sunday could snowball and ruin, what was, a promising start to their season.
It definitely doesn’t help that the Bills enter their bye week following this loss with no real opportunity to have a bounce back performance next week. But the Bills are 7-3 and still find themselves in first place in the AFC East. The defense - albeit on the receiving end of that fatal blow at the end of the game - has played two very solid games in a row after a really rocky start to the season.
As much as the offense has carried the torch this season, they hold a heavy portion of the blame when it comes to their failures because of their inability to execute in the third quarter. Currently, it’s the single biggest roadblock this team faces in their quest to an AFC East title, and potentially an AFC Championship. If the offense can find a way to push aside their third quarter struggles and put together a full four quarter performance, the Bills might really be the biggest threat to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Late in the third, the Bills held a 23-9 lead and blew it. Full stop.
After Cole Beasley’s touchdown in the third quarter, the Bills followed it up by punting three times and throwing two interceptions, ultimately giving up their 14-point lead to find themselves in a three-point hole. The Bills completely veered away from what got them that 14-point lead, going to a tradition under-center, one-back set settling for runs that simply weren’t working.
The Bills are a passing team, and abandoning that play style for the one they unveiled in the second half was a major contributing factor on Sunday. It shouldn’t have come down to one play, but the offense allowed it to.
How the Bills learn from this game will be important. That third quarter was one of the worst quarters I’ve seen this Bills team play, and it nearly turned into a full half of terrible play before Josh Allen bailed them out at the end.
It’s just too bad it wasn’t enough.