NEW YORK (AP) — As Ryan Fitzpatrick slowly limped toward the training room, it was hard to tell what bothered him more: his aching body or his shaky performance in Buffalo’s last game.
The quarterback was treated Monday for an assortment of physical ailments, but he couldn’t shake the guilt he felt after committing five of the Bills’ seven turnovers in Sunday’s 34-3 loss to the New England Patriots.
“It’s hard to come here the day after a game knowing you let your teammates down,” said Fitzpatrick, who threw a season-worst three interceptions and also lost two fumbles. “I mean, we got embarrassed out there.”
Fitzpatrick and the Bills were hoping the game against one of the NFL’s elite teams would show they’re on the right track after opening the season with eight consecutive losses.
Instead, they learned something else.
“It shows we have to go a long way,” Fitzpatrick said.
The Bills (4-11) will get one more chance to prove themselves when they close out their season Sunday against the playoff-bound New York Jets (10-5). A road win against the Jets would give the Bills a 5-3 record in the second half and a 2-4 mark in the division, including a 17-14 win on Dec. 19 that ended Miami’s playoff hopes.
“That’s the goal,” Fitzpatrick said. “The guys in the locker room, the way we’ve fought and played all season long, I think we deserve to win. And that’s what we’re going to try to go out there and do.”
Buffalo’s strong finish to the season took a dreadful U-turn against an AFC East rival that’s dominated the Bills for the past decade. The Patriots scored 24 points on four consecutive first-half possessions to beat Buffalo for the 15th straight time and 20th in 21 meetings.
Three of Fitzpatrick’s five turnovers led to 21 New England points. Rookie C.J. Spiller also lost two fumbles, including a muffed punt.
It was that kind of day for the Bills.
The defense gave up 217 yards rushing — the eighth time this season an opponent has reached the 200-yard mark against the Bills, matching the franchise record set in 1978. Buffalo also tied a team mark set in 1984 by allowing more than 30 points for the eighth time this year.
Coach Chan Gailey expressed confidence in Fitzpatrick, who is 4-9 since becoming the starter.
“Everybody has tough days,” Gailey said. “We’ve just got to get back to basics with him and let him continue to do what he was doing before yesterday.”
Gailey also noted there’s enough blame to be spread across the entire team.
“Anybody that is a competitor and doesn’t do well — and our whole team would fall into that category — wants to come out and show that we’re not that team,” he said. “We want to try to find a way to go finish on a winning note and make everybody feel better walking into the offseason.”
Despite the lopsided loss, the offense has shown signs of life under Gailey, who was hired in January in part because of his offensive specialist reputation.
The Bills entered Monday ranked 24th in the NFL in yards. Modest as that number might be, Buffalo hasn’t finished better than 25th in that category since ranking 11th in 2002, Drew Bledsoe’s first season with the team.
Fitzpatrick’s 3,000 yards passing are the most by a Bills quarterback since J.P. Losman had 3,051 in 2006. His 23 touchdowns through the air are the most in Buffalo since Bledsoe had 24 in ’02.
And Fitzpatrick has accomplished his numbers with a no-name, injury-plagued group of receivers that’s already down veteran starters Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish, and lost David Nelson to a season-ending ending rib injury on Sunday.
“We have done some things that are encouraging, and done it with some players that we’ve had to kind of work in there,” Gailey said. “The great thing about it is a lot of those young guys have responded. So I think it does give us a lot to think about and a lot to work with coming into the next season.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.