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Carucci Take 2: Bills give horrific showing to fall to 0-2 in AFC East

WGRZ Bills/NFL Insider Vic Carucci says that loss to the New York Jets was the perfect formula for how to lose when you’re a double-digit favorite.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Here are my five takeaways from the Buffalo Bills’ 20-17 loss against the New York Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium:

1. This was as bad a performance in all phases as the Bills have had in a long time. It was the perfect formula for how to lose when you’re a double-digit favorite.

The Bills are 0-2 in the AFC East. They’re not going to come remotely close to fulfilling those sky-high Super Bowl expectations with the way they have played for the better part of six quarters.

We must start with the fact Josh Allen was awful, period. He threw two atrocious interceptions, one killing a scoring opportunity on the game’s opening drive, and the other setting up a touchdown that gave the Jets a 17-14 lead late in the third quarter. He nearly had a third pass picked off.

Allen never seemed comfortable while struggling to find open receivers and feeling pressure from all angles. He seemed to be pressing and trying to do too much, looking as if he had no answers for the many problems the Jets’ defense presented.

Meanwhile, his counterpart, Zach Wilson, rebounded nicely from a three-interception effort that killed the Jets against the Patriots last week. On Sunday, Wilson was efficient and extremely poised, avoiding the mistakes that the Bills were clearly expecting to force him to make.

Yes, Allen accounted for two rushing touchdowns and had a game-high 86 yards on the ground. Yes, he was the only reason they had a chance to win. But a trend has developed with Allen’s poor throwing, including the two interceptions he threw in the second half against Green Bay last week.

2. The Bills’ highly suspect run defense missed too many tackles.

The Jets rushed for 174 yards and averaged 5.1 yards per carry. On the way to Greg Zuerlein’s winning 28-yard field goal with 1:43 left, they were able to consistently tear through Buffalo’s defense and kill clock.

It does matter that Matt Milano was out of the lineup, but that doesn’t explain the poor effort from the defensive front as a whole. For the record, Milano was on the field last Sunday night when the Packers rushed for 208 yards.

3. The Bills have issues on special teams.

Tyler Bass missed a 55-yard field-goal attempt just before halftime. There wasn’t even the slightest breeze in MetLife Stadium at that point. It was a situation where the kicker must deliver. Rather than having a seven-point halftime lead and more momentum on the road, the Bills were only up 14-10.

The Jets used a fake field goal to pick up a first down early in the second quarter. The Bills seemed utterly clueless and unaware in a situation where that seemed to be a logical call.

Then there was Bass drawing a penalty for sending a kickoff out of bounds after tying the game at 17-17.

4. Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis were virtually non-existent in the second half (with Davis being mostly invisible for the entire game).

All of Diggs’ five receptions for 93 yards came in the first half. Davis was targeted five times and had only two catches for 33 yards.

Here’s another problem with the Bills’ receiving corps: NO ONE else is making plays beyond their top two pass-catchers.

5. It isn’t time for the Bills to panic. It is time for them to take a hard look at what they’re doing wrong and stop assuming they can win by simply showing up.

The oddsmakers have repeatedly made the Bills heavy favorites this season. Yours truly and many others have continually touted them as a favorite to not only reach but win the Super Bowl. Perhaps the players aren’t paying attention to that, but it certainly looks as if they are.

Wins must be earned. The AFC East has gotten tougher. It’s one thing to assume Josh Allen and the rest of the Bills’ offense is better than what most opponents offer. It’s another for them to play that way.

When they don’t, they get beat. And that has been true in both of their losses this season.

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