It had been quite a week for the Bills; the kind of week that made you feel like they actually had turned the corner, that it was OK to Bill-lieve again.
It started with a Sunday thrashing of the Oakland Raiders at New Era Field to improve their record to 5-2.
Tuesday brought more good news, as General Manager Brandon Beane pulled off a Halloween trade that brought a legitimate No. 1 receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, to Buffalo.
A day later, safety Micah Hyde became the first defensive back in Bills history to earn NFL Defensive Player of the Month honors after a four-interception October.
And then on Thursday, with a chance to get off to their best start since 1993 – their last Super Bowl season – and show America on national television they were for real, the counterfeit Bills took the field at MetLife Stadium in the New Jersey swamplands.
It was as if Buffalo had decided to turn-back the clock a few days before the rest of the country did. Not for an hour, mind you, but to last season and the 16 seasons before that; to times when they were the Bad News Bills.
After turning the ball over just three times their first seven games, they turned it over three times against the New York Jets.
They also repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with foolish penalties, including an unsportsmanlike flag against Jerry Hughes for jawing with an official.
Tyrod Taylor was sacked seven times, including five times in the first half.
After taking the ball away 13 times its last four games, Buffalo’s defense failed to force any turnovers.
LeSean McCoy, who had 159 yards from scrimmage in a season-opening victory against the Jets, was limited to 25 yards in 12 carries. Jets defensive lineman Steve McLendon was right. Shady was not a superhero.
The Bills entered the game ranked third against the run. The Jets shredded them for 194 yards.
It all added up to an embarrassing 34-21 loss in which Buffalo was out-muscled on both sides of the ball.
As ugly as it was, it does not mean all is lost. But it does complicate the Bills path to the playoffs. They would have been sitting pretty at 6-2, tied with the New England Patriots atop the AFC East at the halfway point. Instead, the Bills squandered a golden opportunity, and they did so in a manner that conjured painful memories of autumns past.
The Bills have a tough stretch coming up. A week from Sunday, they’ll host a New Orleans Saints team featuring Drew Brees, who, at age 38, remains as dangerous as ever with 11 touchdown passes, four interceptions and a 101.7 passer rating. And the 5-2 Saints have something they haven’t had in awhile – a stout defense.
After that, Buffalo has to travel to Los Angeles to play a Chargers team that is 3-5, but almost beat the Patriots last Sunday in New England.
Then, it’s on to Kansas City to play a Chiefs team that’s among the NFL’s most talented. The Bills have a history of not playing well in the Show Me State.
And then it’s back home for their first of two games in four weeks against the Patriots.
The good news is that the Bills will have nine days to rest and get things right. They’ll have nine days to get Benjamin acclimated. They’ll have nine days to start trusting the process once more.