JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Only one team can be completely satisfied at the end of a season, but all things considered, the Bills can feel good about things.
No, they didn’t win a Super Bowl, but they did better than anyone could have expected.
“It’s not the result we wanted, but it’s been such a tremendous ride, and it’s been so fun to battle with these guys,” Pro Bowl guard Richie Incognito said after the Bills’ season ended Sunday with a 10-3 loss to the Jaguars in an AFC wild-card playoff game. “I felt like, through the adversity we faced all year, it drew this group tighter and guys took it personal. People were saying we weren’t going to win anything.”
The Bills, in a rebuilding mode after last year’s firing of Rex Ryan, overachieved by reaching the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 season. Under first-year coach Sean McDermott, the Panthers’ former defensive coordinator, Buffalo’s 9-7 season certainly was indicative of progress.
“We learned a lot of valuable lessons, ones that we’ll carry forward,” McDermott said.
But McDermott’s gratification goes only so far.
“First of all, there are no moral victories,” he said. “I don’t believe in those. What I do believe in is continuing to build. We’re not done yet. When we came in here, we set a vision, and put forward a plan to accomplish that vision. We’re not there yet, and we’ve got a lot of work to do. But there are things we can learn from that that will help us move forward. Playoff experience is important. There’s a lot we can build on, and we’ll do that moving forward.’’
The Bills ran out of gas against the Jaguars’ overpowering defense. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was dismal, completing 17 of 37 passes for 134 yards with an interception before suffering a head injury on the Bills’ final drive. He was on his back for several minutes before slowly walking off the field. As with all players placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol, he was unavailable for comment afterward.
“It was a scary sight,” center Eric Wood said. “I saw him in the locker room, and he’s doing better. Hopefully, that will be a quick one to recover from.”
The Bills’ only score came in the second quarter, when they settled for a field goal after having first-and-goal at the 1.
“It’s extremely tough, especially when our offense was moving the ball,” Incognito said. “We have to do better. We got down there and we had a chance to get seven, and we kicked three.”
Incognito is anxious to see his team take the next step.
“We fought our butts off to get here, and it’s not satisfactory just to get here and lose,” he said. “We have a goal set to win a playoff game.”