Bills extend longest active playoff drought to 16 seasons
LANDOVER, Md. — Now that the Buffalo Bills are assured of staying at home for the playoffs for the 16th year in a row, head coach Rex Ryan says the question becomes: Who will be back next season?
"We have two games to prove that we belong here. That’s every coach, every player. Everybody," Ryan said. "That’s just the reality of this business."
Ryan’s beloved defense looked inept for long stretches Sunday, allowing Washington’s Kirk Cousins to equal a career high with four touchdown passes, and the Redskins officially eliminated the Bills from postseason contention by beating them 35-25.
"Did it go according to plan? No, not this year," said Ryan, who is in his first season in Buffalo.
The Bills (6-8), who once reached four consecutive Super Bowls, own the longest active playoff drought in the NFL.
"I’ve personally been responsible for one of those," Ryan said. "I get it."
Said defensive end Mario Williams: "Of course there’s going to be changes. That’s obvious. You just wait and see if your number is called, that’s all."
The Redskins (7-7), meanwhile, are atop the NFC East heading into next Saturday night’s game at the Philadelphia Eagles.
"We still have a dogfight in front of us. And we can’t walk before we crawl, put it like that," left tackle Trent Williams said. "We’ve got to focus on the Eagles."
Aided by a key fourth-down encroachment penalty, the Redskins scored TDs on each of their first three possessions for the first time since September 1999, grabbing a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Even when Washington made a mistake of its own — rookie returner Jamison Crowder fumbled a punt near midfield — Buffalo couldn’t take advantage. The Bills drove all the way to Washington’s 1, but running back LeSean McCoy got stuffed twice, before Tyrod Taylor overthrew Sammy Watkins in the end zone on fourth down.
"A big letdown," Ryan said.
McCoy left early in the second half after hurting his right knee, and backup Mike Gilleslee delivered a 60-yard touchdown run. Buffalo then made it 28-17 with a two-play, 85-yard drive. On the first, rookie tight end Nick O’Leary’s first career catch went for 37 yards; the Redskins challenged whether he stepped out of bounds, but the play stood after a review. On the second, Taylor threw to Watkins for a 48-yard touchdown pass, the first of their two scoring connections.
But the Redskins responded with a 13-play, 80-yard drive capped by Cousins’ 5-yard TD toss to Pierre Garcon early in the fourth quarter.
Fans repeatedly celebrated touchdowns with full-throated chants of "You like that!" — a reference to what Cousins yelled as he trotted to the locker room after a comeback victory earlier this season.
Cousins completed his first nine passes and finished 22 for 28 for 319 yards and no interceptions. It was his sixth 300-yard passing day of the season, a franchise record. He equaled another club mark, set way back in 1967 by Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen, by starting the season with at least one TD throw in 14 straight games.
"As bad at as it was — there’s no question it doesn’t get much worse than this — it wasn’t (a) lack of effort," Ryan said. "I’m telling you, there was no quit in anybody."
Notes: McCoy had 10 carries for 29 yards before exiting. … Bills injuries: G John Miller (ankle), WR Robert Woods (knee), LB Randell Johnson (leg). … Watkins is the second Bills player with a 40-yard catch in four consecutive games. Elbert Dubenion had a five-game streak in 1964.