ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bills had been giddy over their new-and-improved defense this season under first-year coach Sean McDermott.
The Saints killed off any remaining warm feelings Sunday in a blowout loss that was worse than any of the performances that got previous coach Rex Ryan fired.
The Bills gave up 298 rushing yards and a franchise-record six rushing touchdowns without forcing the Saints to punt in a 47-10 loss Sunday at New Era Field that dropped Buffalo to 5-4. The loss was so bad that Saints punter Thomas Morstead teased the Bills after the game by tweeting a Photoshopped picture of his name on the Saints' inactive list because he never had to punt.
“There’s no excuses — we weren’t good,” Bills middle linebacker Preston Brown said. “They killed us in every single stat, everything you could talk about. We have to find a way to get better, or we’ll have five wins at the end of the year. We have to make a change or we’ll be 5-11; it’s that simple.”
A 5-2 start had the Bills thinking about ending their record 17-year playoff drought. But after consecutive lopsided losses to the Jets and Saints, those chances have taken a serious dent.
“It’s about that time in the season where teams start separating themselves,” lineman Richie Incognito said, “and at 5-4, we just put ourselves right back in with the rest of the pack.”
McDermott and the Bills were particularly embarrassed by a second-half stretch in which the Saints gained 169 yards on 24 consecutive running plays while finding the end zone three times. Consider this sequence:
The Bills were down 17-3 and already at risk of letting the game get out of hand early in the third quarter when the Saints had second-and-8 from the Bills 40-yard line. Mark Ingram ran for 16 yards, Alvin Kamara gained 19 and then Kamara finished it off with a 5-yard touchdown that made it 24-3.
Tyrod Taylor’s pass bounced off Charles Clay’s hands on the third play of the Bills’ next drive and was intercepted. Ingram scored from 3 yards out on the Saints’ next play.
The Bills punted on their following possession, but at least looked to be in good shape when a penalty backed the Saints up to their own 6-yard. Instead, the Saints put the dagger through the heart of the Bills’ defense, gaining, in chronological order: 11, 10, 9, 9, 15, 11, 11, 5 and 6 yards on the ground before Brees scrambled for a 7-yard touchdown to make it 37-3.
“Just a phenomenal way to cap a game,” Brees said.
“The whole thing sucked today,” Bills veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams said.
“When you’re giving up rushing yards like that, it goes beyond the physical aspect of it. We’re in the wrong places; we’re not where we’re supposed to be. It was an all-around bad deal.”
Brown couldn’t remember a team imposing its will like that in the pros.
“I ain’t got beat this bad since probably high school,” he said. “It was the longest game of my life. It felt like every time we got out there, we’re like, 'OK, we got them in third and whatever' … first down. 'OK, second and 20' … first down. I mean, it’s embarrassing to get beat like that when they just said, all right, we’re going to run the ball the rest of the game, and you’re not going to do anything about it. And we didn’t.”
Brees completed 18 of 25 passes for 184 yards, including 117 to Michael Thomas, but he didn’t have to do much. Bills rookie corner Tre’Davious White, a former LSU standout, was a nonfactor.
The Bills offense didn’t do much of anything, either. Backup quarterback Nathan Peterman threw for more yards in garbage time (79) than Taylor threw in the first three and a half quarters (56). LeSean McCoy gained more than 6 yards per carry but only ran eight times as the Bills fell behind.
In the end, it was the worst home loss for the Bills since a 56-10 drubbing by the 2007 Patriots, who nearly ran the table in their post-SpyGate redemption tour.
“We had a bad start and it snowballed,” Williams said. “We got beat physically, we were out of our gaps, we’re not where we’re supposed to be; it just snowballed into a nightmare.”