ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- There's no question: Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey would prefer Ryan Fitzpatrick to be playing with more consistency after the quarterback endured one of the worst outings of his NFL career.
Then again, Gailey added, the same concern also applies to the rest of his ragtag, injury-riddled team in the midst of a six-game losing streak that's knocked Buffalo (5-8) out of playoff contention.
Gailey came to Fitzpatrick's defense Monday after the quarterback continued to take the brunt of the criticism one day after he went 13-of-34 passing for 176 yards and two interceptions in a 37-10 loss at San Diego.
"None, zero: I have no questions about him," Gailey said. "We've all seen him do it. We know he can do it. I think as soon as we continue to work on getting everybody on the same page, I think Fitz will be fine. If that was my biggest problem, I wouldn't have any problems."
There's plenty of blame to go around on a team with a porous defense that has given up an average of 32 points over the past six games, and a lineup that has nine regulars on season-ending injured reserve.
"He missed a couple that he normally hits, but he made some great throws," Gailey said. "I talked with the whole team about consistency, and that is where we are.
"Everybody's got to be consistent."
Fitzpatrick is under fire after the Chargers converted both of his interceptions into touchdowns. The second one was particularly costly after it was returned for a touchdown during a decisive nine-second span in which the Chargers scored twice to open a 30-10 lead late in the third quarter.
Fitzpatrick finished with a passer rating of 31.0, the lowest since his rookie season with the St. Louis Rams in 2005. And his 38.2 completion percentage was the worst of his career in a game he has started.
The Bills have spiraled after a 5-2 start. It was a two-month stretch in which Buffalo's offense was averaging 30.1 points a game and led to the journeyman quarterback being rewarded with a six-year, $59 million contract.
But Fitzpatrick has gone 1-6 since signing that deal before a 23-0 victory over the Washington Redskins, and his numbers have fallen off drastically. In his first seven games, Fitzpatrick had 1,739 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. In the past six, he has thrown for 1,274 yards and six touchdowns with nine interceptions.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press