Bills flunk litmus test in losing to Chargers
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — After a feel-good 2-0 start, the Bills are facing their first test of adversity in preparing to open a two-game road swing at Houston this Sunday.
Buffalo was outplayed by the Chargers on both sides of the ball in a 22-10 loss Sunday.
“We’re not where we want to be,” running back C.J. Spiller said. “Obviously, you’re disappointed in the loss. But we can’t sit around all day and mope on it. We’ll look at the film today, and look at the mistakes we made.”
It might be a lengthy film session.
Buffalo’s offense had difficulty mounting much of a threat in being limited to 113 yards and five first downs through the first half. And the Bills were already trailing 20-3 before finally orchestrating a touchdown drive late in the third quarter.
The defense had its issues, too. The Chargers had two scoring drives that lasted 15 or more plays and ate up more than 7 minutes each. The Bills also allowed five completions of 20 yards or more against San Diego after giving up just one in their first two games.
Discipline was an issue, too. Buffalo was flagged 11 times for 101 yards, with three of those penalties negating a combined 60 yards offense.
“I don’t think (the Chargers) made too many mistakes. And that’s what playoff teams do,” Spiller said. “And we have to do that to take that leap. But I think we’ll be fine.”
Now it’s up to the Bills to show they’re capable of rebounding, something they struggled with during a 14-season playoff drought — the NFL’s longest active streak.
“You’re not going to win every game. It’s how it is,” defensive back Corey Graham said. “You’re going to have losses. You’re going to have setbacks.”
The Bills’ secondary was slow in adjusting to Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers’ willingness to throw deep passes on an afternoon when wind gusts approached 35 mph. Rivers completed two 49-yard passes to Malcom Floyd that helped set up a field goal and touchdown.
On offense, the Bills lacked rhythm.
Quarterback EJ Manuel went 23 of 39 for 238 yards and a touchdown, but completed just 7 of 21 attempts for 49 yards to his wide receivers. That included first-round pick Sammy Watkins, who was limited to two catches for 19 yards despite being targeted eight times.
One incompletion came on a critical fourth-and-3 in which Watkins was late looking for the ball, which sailed by him over the middle.
“I’m supposed to catch that ball,” Watkins said.
The one big issue the Bills have yet to address is how capable they are of overcoming deficits.
Since the start of last season, Buffalo is 0-10 in games in which it has trailed by 10 or more points.
“That’s something, obviously, we have to be able to do to be a good football team,” coach Doug Marrone said. “Is that the next step? It’s one of the steps.”
NOTES: With DE Manny Lawson’s sack of Rivers, the Bills extended their streak to 16 games. That matches the team’s longest sack streak since Oct. 2, 2005, to Sept. 24, 2006, according to STATS. ... LB Keith Rivers will test his injured groin in practice Wednesday to determine whether he can play after missing two games. ... The Bills have limited opponents to under 90 yards rushing in all three games this season, after doing that only three times last year.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL