NFL - Time ran out on the Buffalo Bills Monday night when Wil Lutz' second-chance game-winner drifted through the upstate New York night along with the uprights. ...
The offense languished once more, turning the ball over four times as it scored 25 or fewer points for the sixth straight game and fueling concern that the Josh Allen-led attack is running out of time to change its scuttling narrative.
"I'm still confident," [Allen said when asked if he maintained his belief that an offensive turnaround could still happen, "but it's no secret the clock's ticking, got to have some urgency now."
Allen was asked about his confidence level regarding the offense's ability to regroup, but his answer might just as well have been about the club's postseason prospects.Among a handful of Super Bowl favorites ahead of the season, the Bills were 3-1 to start the season with the mighty Buffalo offense averaging 34.8 points per game. Since a 25-20 Week 5 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, though, the Bills have gone 2-4 and averaged only 20.5 points per game in that span.
As the offense has lagged, the Bills postseason aspirations have, as well. Following Monday's loss, 5-5 Buffalo is the No. 10 seed in the ultra-tough AFC.
I appreciate the NFL's official Ministry of Propaganda for so perfectly striping the "running out of time" metaphor down the fairway after Josh Allen teed it up for us all with the "clock's ticking" thing. That is Sportswriting 101 right there.
But if they'll allow me to land this ball on the green, I wish to address a much bigger issue than just this one game or even this season. Time has run out on the Bills Dynasty. The one they'd been waiting all those years and decades for. The one the Bills Mafia was finally going to receive as a reward for suffering through the Tom Brady years. A glorious new age that would be ushered in once Brady left the division or retired. And Allen would become the One True King. The legitimate Heir to the Throne. The Aragorn of the AFC East. May he reign forever.
But as the saying goes, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
I need to confess something. I was only semi-trolling when I wrote this back in January when the Bills got blown out of their own building by the Bengals:
You hate to see it. Even as someone who has spent the last three seasons pinned to the AFC East wrestling mat looking up at Buffalo's bathing suit areas, I hate to see it. They were going to be the Next Great Thing. The team that was going to take over the world. The one we'd be telling our grandchildren about the way old timers talk about Lombardi's Packers or Noll's Steelers. It was all laid out for them. They've been riding one of the most emotional highs in recent memories, with a uniform patch-worthy inspiration fueling them. They had homefield. A chance to play on a neutral field in the championship game if they won. Against a Chiefs team that will have a badly hobbled Patrick Mahomes under center. And they responded with their worst game of the year. By far. …
Teams like the Bills have a window. And like child stars, hot actresses or bikini models, it remains open for a very limited time.
That was just me at the end of an awful season having some fun poking a much bigger bear. I had no idea I was actually being prescient. Seeing the first lug nuts coming loose before the wheels came off. And that "uniform patch-worthy inspiration" I referred to? The great news is he is in great health and took snaps on defense. The bad news is that he might have (I haven't been able to confirm) been responsible for giving the Broncos a second shot at kicking the game-winner:
When it comes to watching dynasties die, I know a thing or two. I've seen my share. First hand. Some more recently than others. And this how meet their demise. One stupid, unforced error at a time:
That's when you begin to find the lesser opponents you thought you were going to roll up on get that feeling you're vulnerable. They get a sense of your weaknesses. Then they stop being your prey and start becoming your predator. Attacking you in ways neither of you thought possible moments earlier:
And before you know it, there are no "lesser opponents." Everyone can smell your blood and start to come in for the kill. Why, just this season alone:
--The Bills have lost to three of the AFC's four last place teams.
--They also lost to the Jets, who are 3-5 against the rest of their schedule, including getting beat beat by the 2-8 Patriots.
--They allowed 29 points in losing to New England. In the Pats three losses since, they've averaged 13.3 PPG.
--They've been beaten by Zach Wilson (30th in passer rating), Trevor Lawrence (18th), Mac Jones (27th) and Joe Burrow (16th).
--Allen is down to 12th in passer rating, and leads the league in interceptions, despite having infinitely better options to throw to than Jones and Jordan Love, who are tied for second.
But even Allen's weapons have their limitations:
All this said, this does not give me joy. I am saddened, not gladdened, to see the mighty fall so soon in what was supposed to be a long and successful run. But that's the nature of the beast. Some Dynasties run for 20 years, win six Super Bowls, make it nine, play in 13 conference championship games including eight straight, win the AFC East 17 times in 19 years, while losing only to tiebreakers. Others win three divisions, make it one conference title game and are over before they even begin.
So it's with much empathy I offer my condolences to Bills Mafia. I hope you enjoyed yourselves while it lasted.