Sunday, December 29, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills
By Mike Rodak
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 34-20 loss to the New England Patriots:
What it means: It's over. The Bills close out their season with a soggy loss, extending their losing streak in New England to 13 games. Buffalo finishes with a 6-10 record and in last place in the AFC East. That's the same result as last season.
Dareus benched, again: Former third overall pick Marcell Dareus has performed well this season, setting a career high with 7.5 sacks. But one week after being benched for the first quarter due to a violation of team rules, Dareus got benched again for another undisclosed violation, this time for the first half. To make matters worse, Dareus jumped offside on a Patriots field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter, giving New England a first down that it turned into eight points after a touchdown and two-point conversion. That was a key swing in what became a close game late.
Stock watch: Falling: Run defense. Like the weather, it was an ugly afternoon for this unit. The Patriots ran for 267 yards, outmuscling the Bills in a rain-drenched finale. LeGarrette Blount proved tough to haul down; he finished with 7.9 yards per carry and two touchdowns. In the second half, Blount returned back-to-back kickoffs for 83 yards and 62 yards, which should make for a long plane ride home for Bills special teams coordinator Danny Crossman.
Byrd injured: Safety Jairus Byrd, who was selected Friday to the Pro Bowl, left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury. He did not return. That might have been the final appearance for Byrd with the Bills, as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Byrd has been selected to three Pro Bowls in his five seasons in Buffalo.
What's next: Bills players will clean out their lockers Monday morning, and then that's it. They enter the offseason with a roster that could stay mostly intact. Their quarterback position, though, remains a major question mark.