Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott acknowledged his team let one get away against the Patriots Sunday afternoon at New Era Field.
“We had a chance to win the game multiple times,” McDermott said.
That they did. After scoring 10 unanswered points to mitigate an early 13-0 deficit, the Bills failed to put another score on the board. The defense forced four three-and-out drives in the second half, but the offense was unable to capitalize, turning the ball over three times. Perhaps the most gut-wrenching came in New England territory with under two minutes remaining, when backup quarterback Matt Barkley’s deflected pass sailed into the arms of Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins.
“It’s tough,” Barkley said after the defeat. “This one’s tough.”
The victory-sealing pick capped a challenging day for Buffalo’s offense. Starter Josh Allen, who exited the game after enduring a helmet-to-helmet hit, completed zero of his passes intended for a receiver over 20 yards away. Allen threw three interceptions and was sacked four times on the day.
McDermott stressed that the 23-year-old needs to continue to improve his decision-making. He noted he saw some improvements on the team’s lone touchdown drive of the game, in which Allen went 6-for-6, but he emphasized that the coaching staff will harp on the difference between being aggressive and settling.
“He didn’t take what the defense was giving him,” McDermott said. “He’s got to learn from that. We’re going to continue to drill that home.”
In addition to the defense’s outstanding performance, running back Frank Gore’s 109 rushing yards was a bright spot. Gore became just the fourth player in NFL history to rush for over 15,000 career yards. The 36-year-old had 17 carries Sunday, including one for 41 yards, though only three came in the fourth quarter.
“It’s cool,” Gore said. “We believe in our coaches. Whatever our coach calls, we’re going to do it. It ain’t just about me. It’s about all of us. We kept fighting as a team. I wish we would have gotten the win, but we didn’t. We’re going to clean it up tomorrow.”
McDermott didn’t want to go into too much detail about what went wrong, recognizing that the two teams will meet again Dec. 22. He had a couple of questions about specific plays, like the hit that knocked Allen out of the game and a potential offensive pass interference that he challenged and lost, but he said he doesn’t believe those calls “won or lost the game.”
“We had opportunities,” McDermott said. “We had opportunities to win the game.”
Up next for the Bills are the Tennessee Titans. McDermott expressed optimism that the 3-1 squad will be able to learn from the defeat and move in the right direction.
“We’ve got to learn from this and continue to grow as a football team,” he said.