ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK. Two points behind the Miami Dolphins with 18 seconds on the clock and no timeouts on Sunday, the Buffalo Bills should have completed a winning drive.

Receiver Isaiah McKenzie caught a pass that could have brought them close to field goal range, but he failed to get out of bounds and time expired.

- Advertisement -

The loss to the Dolphins saw the team go 0–7 in single-score games from week 9 of the 2020 season. Only the Buffalo and Houston Texans (0-6-1) have not won a single-point game since the start of the 2021 season. During the same period, the Bills (2-1) are tied for third in regular season wins (21-8).

- Advertisement -

This season, 18 games have been decided by three points or less, the most in three weeks in NFL history. Figuring out how to delay close games can be important as tough games lie ahead, including a game in Baltimore against the Ravens (2-1) and quarterback Lamar Jackson on Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS).

- Advertisement -

“It’s an ongoing conversation,” coach Sean McDermott said. “We have spent a lot of time in these last two or three play-offs from all sides of the ball. You see we’ve been working on the two-minute for quite some time, as long as I’ve ever been around, to be honest with you.”

Some of Bill’s troubles in close games are on defense. In one-point games in the fourth quarter or overtime since Week 9 in 2020, Bills’ opponents have averaged the most passing yards per try (9.06) in the league and have been sacked only three times (the fewest). The Buffalo defense also recorded one withdrawal (worst in the NFL) in such situations.

“I just feel like we just have to work better late in the game,” nickel defenseman Taron Johnson said. “That’s what it comes down to when you’re tired in the fourth quarter, it’s easy to make mistakes, you know? So, we really need to just buckle up and just make sure we stay focused and perform.”

The Dolphins only had possession twice in the fourth quarter, but scored a touchdown on a 3-yard run running off Chase Edmonds after converting a third and 22 on a 45-yard pass earlier in the transition from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to wide. receiver Jaylen Waddle. Not being able to stop big plays, especially when the Bills are in the lead, is a problem.

Injuries plagued the Bills in Sunday’s game as well, especially in the minor game, with defenseman Micah Hyde (neck) being placed on injured reserve and out for the season, while defenseman Jordan Poyer (leg) and cornerback Dane Jackson (neck) missed the game. Rookie cornerback Christian Benford broke his right hand during the game, requiring surgery, and the team was also without defensive tackle from Ed Oliver (ankle) and Jordan Phillips (hamstring).

“Games are falling, in most games they are on the fringes, right, in terms of what separates winning from losing and whatnot,” McDermott said. “And I think it’s the details, the execution, and more.”

The Bills offense moved the ball in tight matches but failed to take advantage in the red zone. Since Week 9 in 2020, the Bills have scored touchdowns on 22.2% of drives in the red at the end of close games (32nd) and have averaged 4.57 points per game in those situations (31st) . The Bills’ red zone efficiency of 64% ties for 11th in the NFL this season. Holding the ball and moving steadily is not a concern. Ending them in difficult situations.

When the Bills won, they won big, with a 31.3-point win margin since Week 9 in 2020, the highest in the league. But losing close games proved costly, like when the Bills had to go to Kansas City in the 2021 playoffs due to six close losses that season. While finishing this streak is important, players say it doesn’t bother them.

“Every game is different,” QB Josh Allen said. “Obviously we have to find ways to defeat them. But we’re working on it and don’t see it as a problem at all.”