Jalen Hurts scampers in for winning TD in overtime (0:38)The Eagles prevail in overtime as Jalen Hurts rushes in for his fifth total touchdown of the game vs. the Bills. (0:38)
PHILADELPHIA -- At times this season, the Buffalo Bills have been a team without answers. A team that lost its wiggle room in the competitive AFC, facing a steep climb to even make the playoffs with one of the league's hardest schedules to end the season.
After another loss Sunday, this time against a talented Philadelphia Eagles team, dropped the Bills to 6-6 going into the bye week, it was defensive tackle Ed Oliver who put into words why this 37-34 overtime defeat in so many ways encapsulated the feelings around the team's season.
"Well, the frustrating part is being so close, but yet, being so far," Oliver said.
The Bills are 2-6 in one-score games in 2023, tied with the New England Patriots for the worst record in eight or more one-score games and tied for the second-worst record in one-score games overall.
Despite the number of losses, the Bills carry a plus-101-point differential, the 268th team to be plus-100 or better through 12 games. But they are the second team out of that group to not have a winning record, joining the 1950 Eagles, who also were 6-6.
"Like you just said, we could have nine, 10 wins right now, but that's in fantasy land, and in real life, we understand what our record is," safety Micah Hyde said. "And it's the NFL, man, been doing it for a long time, and it's tough."
Losing close games is not necessarily a new issue. Sean McDermott is now 1-6 in overtime games, including the playoffs, as a head coach. That is tied with Dom Capers for the worst record by a head coach in NFL history with a minimum of seven overtime games coached (81 coaches have coached at least seven overtimes games, including the playoffs).
"We didn't do enough or make enough plays and do enough on the coaching end," McDermott said. "We are a good football team and just came out on the short end here. There are no moral victories. Each and every one of us has to look at ourselves. Like I told you, that starts with me. That is what you do. That is what the best do, and I know our football team is a darn good football team."
There were officiating concerns in the first half when Buffalo racked up 10 penalties, many that were controversial, including a grounding call on quarterback Josh Allen. Despite that, the Bills carried a 10-point lead into halftime and another 10-point lead into the fourth quarter. But then there were moments toward the end of the game that can be nitpicked for possible reasons the Bills came up short: the two timeouts McDermott used on the Eagles' final drive in regulation when they made a 59-yard field goal to tie the game and the decision to go to overtime with 20 seconds still in the game, as well as settling for a field goal on fourth-and-6 from the Eagles' 22-yard line in overtime instead of going for the win.
The Bills' defense allowed the Eagles' offense opportunity after opportunity to work its way back into the game after stifling Philadelphia in the first half (the Bills outgained the Eagles by 177 yards in the first half, the worst yards margin in any half of a game started by Jalen Hurts for Philadelphia). The Eagles came back with three straight second-half touchdown drives, including one off an interception by Allen that created a short field. There were three drops by the Bills' offense and miscommunication, including on a pass to wide receiver Gabe Davis on the final offensive play for the Bills in overtime.
"Yeah, it's an option route," Allen said. "They were in zero [coverage] so we max protected it. Understand they were coming to get me. I made a guess, and I guessed wrong."
Allen has not won an overtime game in his career (0-6), the most losses without a win or tie in OT by a starting quarterback. In OT, he has never thrown a touchdown pass, and he has never thrown a ball more than 15 yards.
In his second game with interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady calling the plays, Allen completed 29 of 51 passes for 339 yards, two passing touchdowns and the pick. On the ground, he rushed for a season-high 81 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns. Allen now has the most games with 300 passing yards and 75 rushing yards in NFL history.
"His level of play has risen over the last two weeks. That is really the biggest thing. When your quarterback is playing well, you have a chance," McDermott said. "The last two weeks, Josh Allen's level of play has been good enough for us to win."
Allen said, "Yeah," when asked after the game whether this loss stings a bit more than others. Linebacker Terrel Bernard called it an "execution issue," with the defense needing to "go out there and finish" late in games.
At the other end of the bye, the Bills have a game against the other representative from last year's Super Bowl, at the Kansas City Chiefs.
"We understand that this football team is, we definitely have a lot of upside," Hyde said. "It's crazy ... with our record being 6-6, but I could just say the close games that we've lost, and the games that we have lost have been by a few points. So, we just got to continue to find a way in those situational moments to find a way to get a takeaway or if the offense gets the ball, get a touchdown."