'We didn't play to our standard' | Bills address missed opportunities in Monday Night Football loss

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The Bills are returning to Buffalo with an 0-1 record after losing their season opener 22-16 to the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.

Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was acquired via a trade with the Green Bay Packers, only played four snaps before injuring his ankle and exiting the game early. Quarterback Zach Wilson filled in for the four-time MVP winner.

“With all due respect to [Wilson], they’re two different quarterbacks just from experience alone,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “And that’s when you’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re up 13-3 … take care of the football, be smart,’ and we weren’t smart.”

Quarterback Josh Allen threw three interceptions and lost a fumble as the Bills offense struggled to produce against a ferocious Jets pass rush.

“We made it honestly pretty hard on ourselves,” McDermott said. “When you turn the ball over four times it’s hard to win in this league and you’re playing two opponents, the one on the other sideline and yourself and that’s what we did tonight.”

Wide receiver Gabe Davis, who finished with two receptions for 32 yards, echoed McDermott’s notion that the team beat themselves.

“We didn’t play to our standard and we beat ourselves and that’s the biggest thing we did,” said Davis, who was elected to be a team captain in the offseason. “I don’t think it really has to do with the Jets, I feel like it has to do with us.”

The Jets pass rush is one of the best in the NFL with multiple first-round picks on their roster. Allen was sacked five times, tied for the fifth-most in a single game in his career.

“I think their pass rush does a good job of disrupting things,” Allen said. “I think they play smart defense. They don’t do a whole lot, they’re not overcomplicated.”

Over the last two seasons, Allen has thrown the most interceptions of any quarterback in the NFL with 29. During training camp, the 27-year-old quarterback spoke about wanting to limit turnovers in the 2023 season.

“He knows he can play better,” McDermott said. “He’s capable of playing smarter as well, and he’s got to do that for us to number one stay healthy and then number two take care of the football.”

Allen was sacked five times in the Bills’ loss and Jets safety Jordan Whitehead caught all three of Allen’s interceptions. The Bills lone scoring drive in the second half came with 0:02 second remaining after Tyler Bass kicked a 50-yard field goal which hit off the goalpost before bouncing through the uprights to force overtime.

“I felt the drive at the end was phenomenal,” McDermott said. “With just the rhythm we were in, the throws [Allen] made, I thought the protection was pretty good as well and I thought that was a heck of a drive to go tie the game and then [Bass] made a great kick.”

After a three-and-out drive in OT, Jets receiver/returner Xavier Gipson returned a Sam Martin punt 65 yards for a walk-off touchdown. It was only the third punt return touchdown in the history of overtime in the NFL.

“I have confidence in [the special teams unit and coaching staff],” McDermott said. “I didn’t feel like we were populated enough down there. There just wasn’t enough bodies down there on that last one … and give them credit, that was a good return, but not enough population around the ball more than anything.”

Left tackle Dion Dawkins said that the Bills had to shake off the loss, as a long season awaits.

“We would love to win them all,” Dawkins said. “We would love to score 1,000 points every game, but it’s the NFL; it’s the hardest game in the world. You win, you lose, you have good plays, you have bad plays. You just hope you have more good plays than bad plays when the clock hits zero.”

With 16 games remaining in the 2023 season, there is plenty of time for the Bills to improve on their suboptimal performance Monday night.

“It’s a journey. It’s a long season in the NFL and unfortunately sometimes you have to be reminded of these things,” McDermott said. “And it hurts with a loss. .. And so I mean it’s a constant reminder of during the week, hey, take care of the football, take the football away.”

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