ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Loudly, even harshly.
Such was the tone resonating throughout the Buffalo Bills locker room after Sunday’s 37-22 loss to the Patriots, the Bills’ sixth straight defeat (and 21st in the last 22 meetings) in this twice-a-year non-rivalry rivalry.
No wonder veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who has been on hand for nine years of these beatings, sounded highly annoyed.
“If there is anybody that points a finger [other] than at themselves,” growled Williams, who played on a gimpy knee, “they need to get the hell out. They have to point at themselves and ask what they can do better. When you point fingers, that’s a problem.”
Running back Fred Jackson, a Bill for eight years, echoed the sentiment.
“Turnovers and penalties killed us,” said Jackson. “If you turn the ball over three times [and have no takeaways] it’s going to be hard to beat anybody. Especially a good team. They took advantage of it and scored points off our turnovers. You give points away like that, it’s going to be hard to come back and beat anybody.”
The turnovers — two by journeyman quarterback Kyle Orton (one fumble, one interception) — led to all the Patriots’ 13 first-half points, and the bad news didn’t stop there.
The Bills fumbled away a chance to supplant their nemesis as best in show of the AFC East.
The Patriots were supposed to be backpedaling. Tom Brady was supposed to be too old. The East was supposed to be up for grabs, and Buffalo, which began the day tied with New England at the top, was getting pushy.
Instead, the Bills had trouble getting out of their own way, and paid for it with a costly division loss that sent fans streaming for their cars by the fourth quarter.
Orton, who replaced former Bills first-rounder E.J. Manuel two weeks ago, felt their pain.
“It doesn’t sting them more than it does us,” said Orton (24-38-299 and two touchdowns). “I promise you that. We worked hard to put ourselves in this position, and didn’t get the results we wanted.”
Just how costly a loss might not be known until Dec. 28, when the teams meet again at Gillette Stadium in the regular-season finale.
“You [can’t] make the mistakes that we made today,” said Williams. “Especially in the second half, defensively. They got turnovers and we didn’t. They did play better than we did today.
“We have to play better in the second half. We did some good things in the first half. But we’ve got to do a lot of things better to put our offense in a position to win the game.”
It didn’t help them any that Brady — whose supposed demise was a product of wishful thinking in these parts — picked the Bills defense apart in the second half.
“You’ve got to play a four-quarter game against Tom Brady, a Hall of Fame quarterback,” said defensive end Jerry Hughes, who made big plays but had two costly penalties.
While Brady torched Buffalo in the second half by completing 15 of 17 attempts for 274 yards and three touchdowns, the Bills offense sputtered under Orton.