Bills enter bye needing to regroup and recuperate

BY foxsports • October 18, 2011

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was still smarting on Monday, a day after throwing two errant passes. Linebacker Nick Barnett lamented a defense that gave up too many yards and attracted too many penalties.

''To sum it up, definitely a game of missed opportunities,'' Barnett said.

And coach Chan Gailey suddenly finds himself juggling a banged-up roster that's down its second left tackle with rookie Chris Hairston (right ankle) expected to miss between two and four weeks.

Injuries, interceptions and a little too much ineptness have left the Bills (4-2) plenty to recuperate from both mentally and physically in opening their bye week following a 27-24 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.

The Bills are off until they ''host'' the Washington Redskins on Oct. 30 in their annual game in Toronto. That leaves the players two weeks to spend figuring out how to regain the momentum they had established as part of a surprising start before losing two of three.

''I don't think we take satisfaction in the fact that we're better than people thought we were, because in our minds we're better than 4-2 right now,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''We've got to come out and show it.''

That didn't happen against the Giants on Sunday in a game the Bills reverted to last year's form by showing how they can unravel with the game on the line.

Fitzpatrick underthrew two passes that were picked off. The second interception came at the Giants 4-yard-line with just over four minutes left and the score tied at 24.

''It still hurts watching those few plays you want to have back,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''It happened twice and it's something I have to address and not let happen again.''

The defense failed to bail him out by instead allowing the Giants to engineer a nine-play, 76-yard drive that included a pair of pass-interference penalties against cornerback Drayton Florence.

Both of Buffalo's losses have been decided on field goals scored in the final two minutes, including Lawrence Tynes' 23-yarder with 1:35 left.

That's reminiscent of a team that lost five games decided by 5 points or less - including three in overtime - en route to a 4-12 finish last season.

Gailey insists this year's Bills are better.

''If you have a team of characters, which I believe we do, I think they respond,'' he said. ''We have to get rested up and get as many people healthy as we can and get ready to go for the next game. Nobody feels sorry for anybody in this league.''

Injuries are becoming a factor.

Hairston's injury is the latest to hit the offensive line. The rookie fourth-round draft pick was starting his second game in place of Demetrius Bell (shoulder). Gailey said there's a chance Bell could return in two weeks. If not, left guard Andy Levitre will shift over to play left tackle.

The Bills are also down at receiver, with starter Donald Jones expected to miss another two to three weeks with an ankle injury. Gailey filled that spot with backup running back C.J. Spiller, who had five catches for 39 yards against the Giants.

The defense is even more banged up.

Linebacker Shawne Merriman missed Sunday's game after aggravating an Achilles tendon injury. Merriman said he'll be ready to play against Washington, though Gailey wasn't sure.

Also limping are linebacker Chris Kelsay (calf) and defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who is having tests to evaluate a left foot injury that could eventually require surgery.

The injuries have contributed to limit the Bills' ability to generate a pass rush. Buffalo has registered just four sacks this season, and none in the past two games.

The Bills are also leaking yards, having allowed 414 or more in each of their past five games. Dating to 1950, the Bills are only the fifth team to have allowed that many in five consecutive games, according to STATS LLC.

Gailey is stressing the positives.

''If you focus on four or five negative things, you can become negative, and you can't let that happen to your football team or to yourself,'' Gailey said. ''So I always am a glass is half full kind of guy, and I believe that we can get better.''

NOTES: The 1976 Chiefs are the NFL's only team to have allowed 414 or more yards in six straight games. ... The Bills will practice Wednesday before getting the rest of the week off. ... Buffalo's eight touchdowns rushing this season are two more than the team had all of last year.



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