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Bills likely to miss playoffs again

The SportsXchange

Even the most ardent Bills fans would have to admit there's a very good chance this is now going to be a 13th consecutive year without a playoff appearance. Thanks to their latest failure against New England, a 37-31 loss which was their 11th straight defeat at Gillette Stadium, the Bills fell to 3-6. It will now take a Herculian finish for the Bills to make the postseason.

"There's still a chance," coach Chan Gailey said, trying to portray an upbeat attitude, though no one listening was too moved. "We still can get there. The world champions were 7-7 (at one point) last year. It makes our goal harder. It does. You could've won this one, it would've made our goal easier. But I think we'll get there. I know I'm in the minority, but thank goodness I've got a group of guys in that locker room in there that think the same thing."

Yes, the New York Giants were 7-7 late in 2011. To be clear, the Bills are not the Giants, not even remotely close to the Giants, and it's unlikely they will even get to seven victories this season, let alone the nine they would probably need to earn an AFC wild-card berth.

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams, now in his eighth year without sniffing the playoffs, said, "We've got to stay on guys so they understand: Our playoffs are now. They start now. There's no reason that we can't go on a run and get back in this thing, but it's going to take a lot out of everybody."

It's a similar tale of woe for the Bills. They are in this dire situation because they haven't gotten good enough play at the most critical position, quarterback, and their defense is simply terrible.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 337 yards and two TDs against the Patriots, and he had the Bills in position to pull out a last-second victory, but he threw a killer interception in the end zone that ended the game.

Fitzpatrick does not have the arm strength to throw the ball downfield for big gains, and he must rely on a short passing game that utilizes the running backs. That's not a bad strategy when those backs are Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, but it's awfully tough to win when you have to continually string together long, sustained scoring drives.

Against a New England defense that gives up yards, especially through the air, the Bills were able to do that as they had three TD drives of at least 80 yards. However, they also had three costly turnovers -- the Fitzpatrick interception that cost them a potential TD, a Jackson fumble at the 1-yard-line in the fourth quarter that cost them another TD, and a Fitzpatrick fumble at his own 13 that led to a Patriots TD. Those 21 points would have made a quite a difference in this game.

"We just can't turn it over," said Gailey. "We are not good enough yet to not play extremely well and win. We've got to play extremely well to win. We are not there yet. There are some other teams that can do that; we can't. We're not one of those teams. I think we are capable of getting there, but we have not gotten there and it is my job to get us there. But we're not good enough. We can't turn it over three times and win ball games most of the time."

Defensively, the Bills can't stop anybody. Even in a game where they held Tom Brady to 237 passing yards, and the Patriots offense to a respectable 347 yards, they still gave up 37 points. That's the fifth time that's happened this year, and the Bills have lost every one of those games.

"We had opportunities to make plays and we had a chance to win it, and we didn't do it," said safety George Wilson.

One of those players fans can point the finger at is defensive end Mario Williams. The $100 million man had another unproductive game, registering just three tackles and no sacks. He has only 4.5 sacks in nine games.

"We only got seven games now," Williams said. "In order for us to get to where we want to go, we've got to win out. We can't keep losing like this."
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