About the only thing that could have made this day worse for Bills fans was if Buffalo's former first-round quarterback flop J.P. Losman came in and guided the Miami Dolphins to victory.
As it turned out, Losman did take the field against his old team, but only for five minutes of mop-up duty. By the time J.P. came in the Fish already had filleted the Bills by a 35-8 score, which turned out to be the final margin. Losman looked pretty good handing off the ball and running out the clock, but I digress.
So, now Buffalo has lost three in a row and four of its last five to drop to 5-5.
The Bills have been outscored 106-26 in the past three games and 56-10 in the first half of the past two games.
"We are going in the wrong direction,'' worn-out Bills coach Chan Gailey sighed afterward. "But it's not a run-away train."
With all due respect, I beg to differ. Based on the manner in which they've been outplayed the last three weeks and given the mounting injuries and the team's offensive ineptitude - they were 0-for-12 vs. the Dolphins on third-down conversions - this now can be classified as a runaway train.
We figured this four-game stretch - which began with a decisive loss at home to the New York Jets and very likely will conclude with a decisive loss to those same Jets next Sunday in the Jersey swamplands - would define this Bills team. And, sadly, it has in a way we didn't anticipate.
I thought for sure they would show a little more fight than they have, especially today against a Dolphins team featuring Matt Moore, not Dan Marino in his prime, at quarterback. But something's seriously amiss here, and I don't know if Gailey is going to be able to find the brakes in time.
To be fair, the injuries have taken their toll. My fears about the impact of the loss of center Eric Wood were realized. Andy Levitre, a natural guard who has done yeoman's work filling in at left tackle, had a tough day in his first NFL start at center. His long snaps were off target much of the game, totally throwing off the offense's timing, sabotaging plays before they had a chance to develop. But the guy did give it his best shot, and Gailey finally came to his senses late in the game when he moved Kraig Urbik to center and Levitre back to left guard - a combination we'll undoubtedly see for the rest of the season, barring, of course, any more injuries.
The wide receiving corps continues to take its hits. Donald Jones suffered a gruesome leg injury and is probably done for the rest of the season. David Nelson got smacked around pretty good and had to leave the game. And Stevie Johnson grittily attempted to play despite a shoulder injury, but clearly was just a shell of his former self. The group wound up dropping at least 10 passes, and two of the deflections resulted in interceptions that set up two Miami touchdowns.
It was obviously the Bills secondary sorely missed its leader, safety George Wilson, who was sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck. Without the verteran DB known as the Senator directing traffic, there were several blown coverages, enabling Moore to toss three first-half touchdown passes as the Dolphins built an insurmountable 28-6 lead. On one of the scores, cornerback Terrence McGee was injured and will join the growing list of Bills on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
Although he certainly could have used a lot more help from his friends, some of the blame for this downward spiral falls on Ryan Fitzpatrick's shoulder pads. Yes, he had to spend too much of his time fielding errant snaps and his receivers could have used a little stick'em, but lately his passes have been inconsistent. Too many times he's put his receivers in difficult positions to catch the ball.
The timing of Fitzpatrick and his team's slump couldn't have been worse. And you know the talk show callers, the bloggers and the tweeters are going to be boiling, now that Fitz is 1-3 since signing his $59 million contract extension. It's an unfortunate coincidence, but in those four games, he has thrown four touchdown passes and eight interceptions after having a 12-4 TD-to-interception ratio and a 4-2 record in his first six starts.
Again, I'm willing to give him some benefit of the doubt because of all the offensive line shuffling and all the dropped passes by his banged-up receivers. But the guy was signed to be a franchise quarterback and franchise quarterbacks also have to elevate their play and carry a team on their shoulder pads in times of crisis.
The challenge now facing Gailey and Fitzpatrick figures to become even more daunting should Fred Jackson's bruised right calf keeps him out for any length of time. The NFL's leading rusher was limited to just 50 yards receiving and 17 yards rushing before being sidelined Sunday. Steady Freddie is the most indispensible Bill. If he's sidelined, the current ugliness could get even uglier.
Although they're still mathematically alive for a playoff berth, you can stick a fork in those hopes because they are as done as a steak that's been left on a tailgater's grill for four quarters.
As wounded as the Jets are following their Thursday night loss to the Denver Tebows, I can't see them losing a must-win game at home next Sunday against a Bills team that simply doesn't match up well with them.
The Jets tilt will be followed by a home game vs. Tennessee, a road game in San Diego, consecutive home games vs. Miami and Denver and the season finale in New England.
At this point, it would be nice to at least see Buffalo become competitive again and steal a couple more wins and possibly battle to an 8-8 mark.
But the way the Bills are playing .500 seems like a pipe dream. They're heading in the wrong direction fast, and both Gailey and Fitz admit they don't have the answers right now for turning things around.
"We're baffled as to what has happened," Fitz said. "For the past three weeks, it has not been fun to play, and I'm sure it has not been fun to watch."
Award-winning columnist and author Scott Pitoniak has followed the Bills since the mid-1960s and covered them since 1985, writing five books about the team along the way. His 14th book overall, Color Him Orange: The Jim Boeheim Story, has just been published by Triumph Books and is available both in print and digital editions. You can read more by Scott at .
SCOTT'S REPORT CARD
COACHING: Chan Gailey admits he doesn't have any answers right now, and neither does his staff. The Bills came out strong on the opening drive, but it was all downhill after that. Grade: F
OFFENSE: Ryan Fitzpatrick has two touchdown passes and seven picks his past three games. Injuries appear to have caught up to the offensive line and receiving corps. Bills receivers let two passes deflect off their hands for interceptions that set up Miami touchdowns, and Stevie Johnson failed to make an end zone reception that No. 1 receivers must make. And if Fred Jackson, who was limited to just 17 rushing yards in Sunday's blowout, is sidelined by injuries, don't expect Buffalo to emerge from this malaise any time soon. Most telling stat in the loss to the Dolphins: 0-for-12 on third down conversions. Managed just two field goals and were 0-for-3 in the red zone. Grade: F
DEFENSE: Matt Moore's final stats aren't eye-opening - 14-of-20 for 160 yards and three TDS - but he did wrest control of the game immediately by guiding his team on three touchdown marches on its first three possessions. The Bills managed one sack, but didn't get much pressure overall on Moore. The secondary again failed to compete for balls in the air and blew coverage several times. Linebacker Kelvin Sheppard did record a safety on a running play to provide Buffalo with a quarter of its scoring. Grade: D-minus
SPECIAL TEAMS: Fill-in kicker Dave Rayner did boot two field goals, including a 56-yarder near the end of the first half, and C.J. Spiller had a 45-yard punt return in the second half. But the Bills special teams had a difficult day overall. A blocked punt resulted in the Dolphins fifth touchdown and two penalties on returns pinned the Bills deep in their territory. Seven of their 14 drives began inside their 20. Grade: D
OVERALL: The injuries are really beginning to take their toll on a roster that isn't deep. Fitz is in a funk and the defense continues to have its problems stopping people particularly in the first half of recent games. The Jets have an additional three days to heal and prep for Sunday's home game vs. the Bills. Gailey has a major challenge trying to convince this young and wounded team to believe in itself again. Grade: F