ORCHARD PARK, NY — Looking grim at the Buffalo Bills practice facility on Monday, quarterback Josh Allen struggled to figure out what he could or could not take away from the Bills’ run — a campaign where they overcame a lot of things, without succeeding in approaching the Super Bowl.
In the aftermath of the 27-10 correction at the hands of the Bengals, some could see it as a setback, which would be disturbing.
“The game is new and the reactions can be extremes, but we’ve done a lot of good things this season,” Allen said.
Buffalo tied a team record with 13 wins, won a third straight division title and trailed Kansas City just half a game for the AFC summit. Allen still finished the season “with a knot in his stomach”.
“It’s very frustrating, feeling like you’re close but not getting the job done,” he added. It’s been a very similar feeling for three years. We have to keep moving forward and find a way to go further. »
The Bills made it to the AFC Championship game after the 2020 season, losing to Kansas City. After the 2021 season, they lost to Missouri again, this time in the second round. Now Buffalo finds itself overtaken by Joe Burrow and the Bengals in the hierarchy of the American.
Unlike a year ago, when Allen went head-to-head with Patrick Mahomes before an overtime loss to the Bills, Buffalo let the Bengals take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Thereafter, the formation only responded meekly.
The game against Cincinnati revealed the Bills’ weaknesses including an injury-worn defensive front, young defensive ends and an offense that relied too heavily on Allen and Stefon Diggs.
“I believe a lot in who you are in the last game of the season, by which I mean what we saw on the pitch. And that’s what needs to be fixed. So obviously we weren’t good enough (Sunday),” coach Sean McDermott said.
The Bills have little wiggle room with the salary cap, and 21 players could be granted unrestricted free agency. That group includes middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, starting safety Jordan Poyer and running back Devin Singletary.
Singletary was so stunned by the setback that he didn’t think about his future.
“To be honest, I didn’t think the season was going to end, so I thought I still had time to think about it,” mentioned the fourth-year player.
Offensive lineman Rodger Saffold admitted the Bills have been hit emotionally hard this season.
Their calendar has been disrupted twice by winter storms but above all there was the cardiac arrest suffered on January 2 by Damar Hamlin, who had to be resuscitated on the pitch.
“We haven’t been able to catch our breath since the Damar situation, and it’s really taken a toll on a lot of people,” Saffold said. It was almost like quicksand: the more you struggled, the deeper you sank. »
On Sunday, Hamlin had regained enough form to attend the meeting and visit the locker room of his family.