ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Limping heavily on his left leg, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor quietly grabbed a few belongings from his locker and headed out a side door.
Before pulling on a pair of head phones, Taylor nodded his head “Yes,” when asked by The Associated Press if he was OK. He then gingerly climbed into a cart, driven off up the tunnel and into the New Era Field parking lot.
With him might also have gone the Bills’ fading chances of completing a late-season playoff push after Buffalo dropped to 6-6 following a 23-3 loss to New England on Sunday.
Taylor was hurt on the first play from scrimmage, when he was sacked by David Harris. He continued playing through the injury before leaving the game after overthrowing receiver Deonte Thompson to end Buffalo’s seventh drive in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
“He was in pain. You could see it on his face, the expressions he was making,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “It shows you a true warrior.”
Coach Sean McDermott provided no update except to say Taylor was being evaluated.
Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White was also sidelined by a potential concussion, after Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski led with his shoulder in striking the player in the back of the head while White lay on the field.
“That’s just dirty football. There’s nowhere in our game for that,” safety Micah Hyde said.
Gronkowski apologized afterward, saying: “I’m not in the business of that. It was a lot of frustration.”
Taylor’s injury has the potential of sidetracking Buffalo’s bid to end a 17-year playoff drought that stands as the longest active streak in North America’s four major professional sports. Without him, the Bills would be forced to turn back to rookie Nathan Peterman, who proved he wasn’t ready two weeks ago. That’s when McDermott’s “calculated risk” to bench Taylor backfired: Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half of a 54-24 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Bills are 21-19 in games Taylor starts, and 0-4 when he doesn’t since 2015.
Though knocked for being too conservative in hesitating to throw into coverage, Taylor has at least been efficient. He has 12 touchdowns versus four interceptions after being picked off at the goal line by Patriots linebacker Eric Lee at the goal line to end Buffalo’s first drive.
Center Eric Wood credited Taylor for persevering through the pain.
“It just drives home stuff I already knew about him, that he’ll do whatever it takes for this team,” Wood said. “He was able to conceal it if he was in a ton of pain, but he laid it on the line for us today.”
Despite the injury, Taylor had three runs for 32 yards.
In the end, it wasn’t enough for a Bills team limited to scoring on Stephen Hauschka’s 49-yard field goal, and which came away with no points on two drives inside the Patriots 10.
Aside from Taylor’s interception, Peterman had a drive end on downs at the Patriots 1, where his fade pass intended for Zay Jones was batted away by Stephon Gilmore.
The Bills squandered another scoring opportunity late in the second quarter with Joe Webb lining up in a wildcat formation. Webb barely overthrew a pass intended for running back Travaris Cadet, who was open deep over the middle near the goal line.
“Those are three situations we have to take advantage of and we didn’t,” Wood said. “Extremely frustrating. We missed some opportunities on offense to put seven on the board, and against a team like that you have to.”