Latest loss in long skid leaves Bills embarrassed

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- By Monday morning, the yard lines and logos had been removed from the Rogers Centre turf, and work crews began taking down the "Bills Toronto Series" signs and banners.

 Bills owner Ralph Wilson on the team's scoring output 

If only it were so easy for the Bills to erase the dreadful memories of their trip north of the border and a 16-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins that all but mathematically ended any shot at Buffalo making the playoffs.

Bills players were embarrassed and frustrated immediately following a game in which they came out flat, with the offense managing just 163 yards and failing to score a touchdown for the second straight outing. And the mood hadn't changed some 18 hours later.

"It's still frustrating. It's still tough," Buffalo wide receiver Lee Evans said. "To play like that is unacceptable. It's really hard to swallow."

This isn't what Evans had envisioned two months ago, when the Bills sat atop the AFC East following a 5-1 start. They have lost six of their seven games since and face the distinct prospect of going a ninth consecutive year without a postseason appearance -- the worst drought in franchise history and tied with the Detroit Lions for the longest active streak in the NFL.

The Bills (6-7) are left to play out a three-game string, starting with a road game against the New York Jets (8-5) on Sunday.

So much for Buffalo getting off on the right foot in its first of five annual regular-season games in Toronto or winning over new fans in its home away from home.

"Embarrassed, disappointed -- they're a couple of words you could use," Bills defensive tackle Marcus Stroud said.

It didn't help that the setting was decidedly neutral, with numerous fans rooting for the Dolphins.

"It felt like we were on the road," Buffalo tackle Jason Peters said.

The loss was the latest for a sputtering offense that has gone nearly nine full quarters without scoring a touchdown, including a 10-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers the previous weekend. And the touchdown drought comes immediately after the Bills scored the second-most points in franchise history in a 54-31 win at Kansas City on Nov. 23.

Against Miami, Buffalo's lone scoring threat ended when, on first-and-goal from the 3-yard line, J.P. Losman's underthrown fade pass to Evans was intercepted in the corner of the end zone.

The offense's lack of production has been so maddening that Bills owner Ralph Wilson resorted to sarcasm after the game: "Three points? Listen, the way we've been playing, it's tough to get three points."

Wilson, however, refused to be drawn into questions about coach Dick Jauron's status and instead blamed the team's woes on a lack of talent.

Jauron is in the final year of his three-year contract, and the team hasn't indicated whether he'll be back next season. But Bills players continued to go out of their way in expressing their support for their coach.

"Dick has my utmost respect," right tackle Langston Walker said. "He's a good coach and a good person. Everybody knows that. Unfortunately, we've gone through a bad spot. Coach Jauron hasn't thrown anybody under the bus, and I don't expect him to. I definitely won't throw him under the bus."

Jauron could only express his disappointment Monday.

"The game was a big letdown," Jauron said. "We knew how important it was for us, and we just didn't perform, and that reflects on me. That's on my shoulders. It was a very disappointing day for us."

The coach then provided a philosophical answer when informed that Bills chief operating officer Russ Brandon had termed the team's meltdown as unacceptable.

"Is it unacceptable? Well, how do you not accept it if you've done it?" Jauron said. "We've got to live with it. That's our record, and we've got to take it and go on and try to get better and improve."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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