ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A Washington Redskins season that began with so much promise -- two opening victories and a 3-1 record -- appears to be spinning out of control before the halfway mark.
They lost their third consecutive game yesterday, and they did it in such a way that suggests coach Steve Spurrier has more to do during the bye week than just work on the basics and correct blown assignments.
Spurrier questioned his team's effort and desire after it was destroyed, 24-7, by the Buffalo Bills in a game that wasn't anywhere as close as the score indicated. And some of the players fired back by questioning Spurrier's ability to make such comments.
"We've got to regroup and find out who really wants to play," Spurrier said after a listless effort in which the Redskins were outgained, 432-169. "We've got to find out who wants to compete and play the game because it was embarrassing the way we played, no question about it.
"... If we've got a bunch of guys not doing that [playing hard], then we've got to go out on the street and pick up guys who will play hard."
Some of the players tried to be diplomatic about it when Spurrier's remarks were relayed in the dressing room.
"That's Coach," said quarterback Patrick Ramsey, who left in the fourth quarter with a bruised wrist. "I don't know what he's thinking. In no way would I ever say that my teammates didn't put forth effort, not that I'm disagreeing with Coach Spurrier."
Some, like outspoken linebacker Jessie Armstead, chose to avoid expressing their feelings at all. Armstead still believes the New York Giants allowed him to leave as a free agent two years ago because of his outspoken nature.
"I used to have times when I said what I felt," he said, "but I'm through with that. It got me out of New York, and I'm not going to let it get me out of here."
Fellow linebacker Jeremiah Trotter wasn't as restrained.
"In truth, you can't tell from just watching on the sidelines," he said in a pointed reference to Spurrier. "I don't question any man on this team for his fight. Everybody's got an opinion, but everybody who steps on the field will fight to the end."
If, as Trotter said, the Redskins fought to the end, then they were certainly outplayed from the beginning by a team that was trying to regroup after two consecutive losses and being charged with "sleepwalking" by owner Ralph Wilson after a 30-3 loss to the New York Jets.
"I think [the players] felt a sense of urgency, and they couldn't wait to play today," said Buffalo coach Gregg Williams.
The domination began with the Bills driving 68 yards with the opening kickoff and taking a 3-0 lead on a 20-yard field goal by Rian Lindell. Buffalo had nine first downs and 138 yards in the first quarter to six plays and five yards for the Redskins.
Tailback Travis Henry, who ran through the Redskins' porous defense for 167 yards, scored the first of his two touchdowns early in the second quarter to make it 10-0, a lead the Bills maintained at halftime.
Though badly outplayed, the Redskins kept the crowd of 73,149 from starting the celebration too early as they closed the gap to 10-7 early in the third on a 25-yard pass from Ramsey to Rod Gardner down the right sideline. But they never threatened to take the lead after that.
Quarterback Drew Bledsoe froze the Redskins safeties with play-action and dropped a 10-yard TD pass into Josh Reed's hands to make it 17-7 at 5:36, and Henry ended a 62-yard drive with a 14-yard scoring run at 10:24 of the fourth.
Ramsey, who had another painful week playing behind a line that couldn't pick up blitzes and stunts, finally left the game with 9:02 remaining when his right hand was hit by defensive end Aaron Schobel's helmet after throwing a pass.
Ramsey was diagnosed with a bruised hip and wrist, injuries that Spurrier said should be healed before Washington returns to action Nov. 2 in Dallas.
It remains to be seen whether the other problems that hamper the team will heal by then.
The Newport News (Va.) Daily Press is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.
Washington 0 0 7 0 -- 7
Buffalo 3 7 7 7 -- 24
First quarter Buf--FG Lindell 20, 8:04. Second quarter Buf--Henry 4 run (Lindell kick), 13:43. Third quarter Was--Gardner 25 pass from Ramsey (Hall kick), 9:12. Buf--Reed 10 pass from Bledoe (Lindell kick), 5:36. Fourth quarter Buf--Henry 14 run (Lindell kick), 10:24. A--73,149.
First downs 8 25
Total Net Yards 169 432
Rushes-yards 22-56 39-196
Passing 113 236
Punt Returns 4-51 6-13
Kickoff Returns 4-66 1-17
Interceptions Ret. 1-1 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 10-29-0 19-26-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 2-6 1-8
Punts 10-41.7 6-48.5
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 2-1
Penalties-Yards 9-77 9-95
Time of Possession 23:05 36:55
Rushing--Washington, Morton 7-32, Cartwright 4-18, Betts 8-11, R.Johnson 1-6, Ramsey 1-0, Coles 1-(minus 11). Buffalo, Henry 31-167, A.Brown 1-17, Bledsoe 3-7, Burns 3-6, Van Pelt 1-(minus 1). Passing--Washington, Ramsey 9-26-0-115, R.Johnson 1-3-0-4. Buffalo, Bledsoe 19-26-1-244. Receiving--Washington, Coles 3-58, Gardner 2-28, McCants 2-17, P.Johnson 1-9, B.Johnson 1-4, Morton 1-3. Buffalo, Reed 8-109, Campbell 3-36, Shaw 3-23, Coleman 2-22, Neufeld 1-25, Gash 1-16, Henry 1-13. Missed field goals--None.