Bills take the plunge

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In about the time it takes for a lazy Sunday afternoon nap, the Buffalo Bills plunged from the top of the AFC East to the bottom.

If, by chance, you snoozed your way through yesterday's opportunity for the free-falling team to make a statement against the New England Patriots, you didn't miss much. A 20-10 loss easily could have been double that, considering how the Pats dominated.

And the thumping had to be as demoralizing as it was potentially devastating for Buffalo's hopes of making the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

"The week after we beat the Chargers, everybody was pretty high and talking about being 5-1," Bills centre Duke Preston said. "That is the nature of the NFL. As fast as we got out to a good start, that's how fast it can go away."

Let's just say the Bills' effort yesterday won't get folks running for those remaining expensive tickets to the Rogers Centre game against Miami on Dec. 7.

Their first eight possessions consisted of five punts, a pair of interceptions and a field goal. The Bills now have lost 10 in a row to the Pats and have been outscored 308-96 in that stretch.

"We all know who we are talking about here," Bills coach Dick Jauron said of the Patriots, who now share the division lead with the New York Jets, a team they face on Thursday night. "Clearly they beat us.

"It's a hole I'd rather not be in, but I'd choose where we are now over where we've been the last two years."

Of course, that 5-4 record is the glass half-full view for a Bills team that has dropped three in a row and four of its past five.

Worse, yesterday's victors are a far cry from the one that has dominated the AFC East this decade.

These are not Tom Brady's Patriots, though the Bills defence sure allowed his understudy, Matt Cassel, to look like a competent big-league quarterback yesterday.

For most of the game, the Patriots seemed as if they were toying with the Bills, controlling the clock and running vanilla plays as if they knew that was all that was required.

On the other side, Bills QB Trent Edwards appears to have regressed in recent weeks, though, in fairness, he is only a second-year pro.

He threw a pair of interceptions -- including a putrid attempt to a wide-open Lee Evans that was snagged by Ellis Hobbs and led directly to a first-half New England field goal. And, when the Patriots defence buried running back Marshawn Lynch, the Bills offence had no backup plan.

"We got to him," Patriots linebacker Tedi Bruschi said of harassing Edwards. "We got some key sacks and it set the tone for the game."

Want more ugly numbers? New England crushed the Bills 370-168 in total offence and owned the ball for a whopping 37:40. That clock control included a 19-play drive late in the fourth quarter that chewed up eight minutes and ended with a one-yard TD run from BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Green-Ellis, who got the start because the three guys ahead of him on the Patriots depth chart are hurt, ran for 105 yards. Cassel added another 22, including a 13-yard TD keeper on the game's opening drive.

Falling to such no-name New Englanders is a stinging reality check, but as fast as the season is slipping away, the Bills can get it back, especially with games against Cleveland, Kansas City and San Francisco leading up to the Toronto date.

"We've got to deal with (being) 5-4 and go on and prove ourselves and get better," Jauron said.


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