The excitement of Sunday’s thrilling 24-23 win over the Carolina Panthers had mostly burned off by the time the Buffalo Bills trickled through the locker room Monday morning.
“For me, my focus has already shifted to the Jets,” running back C.J. Spiller said.
Coach Doug Marrone said that’s life in the NFL — the wins are forgotten much sooner than the losses. So even an outcome as remarkable as Sunday’s — when rookie quarterback EJ Manuel threw a game-winning touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson with just 2 seconds left — becomes just a footnote in a 16-game season.
“I think we’ll come right back to work and that’s the mindset we try to make sure the players know we’re building with,” Marrone said.
As for where the attention will turn, the coach pointed to turnovers as one of the things that had him concerned.
“We were minus-1 in turnovers. I think that’s where it starts,” he said. “That’s obviously an issue.”
Marrone also pointed to the average drive start of both teams as something the Bills will have to improve. Carolina began its 12 drives on average at its own 34-yard line, while the Bills began their 12 drives on average at their own 19.
“When you look at those things you create a situation where it’s very difficult to win,” he said. “That’s what we can’t do. We’re not going to win as many games as we should if we keep playing football that way.”
Center Eric Wood said the Bills need to get off to a better start. In the first half against both the Patriots and Panthers, the team’s offense has managed just seven and three points, respectively.
“We’ve obviously got to get better early in games. We’ve shown we get better as the game goes on. I don’t know if that’s our tempo wearing on the defense, us getting more comfortable or what, but we’ve got to start the game better,” Wood said.
“We know that and that will be a premium coming up. We’re doing some things well, but when I watch the tape all I think is we still have a lot of potential. We’re leaving a lot of plays out there. All 11 guys could be playing a little bit better. There’s so many plays out there that we’re not making right now that we should be scoring a lot more points.”
Marrone said he’ll wait until rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins is 100 percent healthy before deciding whether he will need to compete with veteran Dan Carpenter for the job.
“I’m going to wait to make that decision,” the coach said. “Right now, what we have is Dan’s out there playing for us and we’re happy.”
Carpenter made a good case for the job in Sunday’s victory. He bounced back from missing a 42-yard attempt by hitting from 55 yards.
“It’s always nice to make them. It’s nice to know the coaching staff has confidence in my ability to make a kick like that, especially after what happened the kick before,” he said after the game. “It was nice to get one through and hopefully I can continue to get better and get back to work for next week.”
Carpenter added a 48-yard field goal later in the game, and converted the game-winning extra point.
“Right now Dan’s our kicker and he’s doing the best job, and we appreciated that,” Marrone said.
Hopkins worked out Monday and kicked a Nerf ball as part of his rehabilitation.
“That was positive,” Marrone said.
Along with Hopkins, guard Doug Legursky (knee) and safety Jairus Byrd (feet) are “moving in the right direction,” according to the coach.
“I think right now we’re in a positive mode of rehabilitation with them,” he said. “It’s one of those things, we’ll just see day to day.”
The Bills came through the game against the Panthers without any significant new injuries to report.