Struggles aside, Bills GM not veering from rebuilding plan

By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — With little money to spend and few impact players interested in signing with the Bills given the uncertainty at quarterback this past offseason, general manager Brandon Beane understood Buffalo’s offense was going to struggle.
Little did he realize how much.
“There’s nobody that goes into a season and looks for either side of the ball to have a down year and to be statistically where our offense is,” Beane told The Associated Press during a wide-ranging interview before Buffalo entered its bye week.
He then recalled something former coach John Fox once said when the two worked together in Carolina.
“There’s nobody going to rescue you in-season,” said Beane, in his second year in Buffalo. “You’ve got to dig out of it yourself. And all you can do is put your head down and keep working.”
Much of the heavy lifting will have to wait for the offseason when Buffalo is projected to be more than $90 million under the NFL’s salary cap, plus a current stockpile of 10 draft picks.
Otherwise, a year after ending a 17-year playoff drought, the Bills (3-7) are realistically out of this year’s postseason conversation because of a young, patchwork lineup dragged down by an anemic offense that’s had four starters at quarterback.
Whatever life that journeyman Matt Barkley breathed into the Bills during a 41-10 win at the New York Jets on Sunday, the 451-yard, five-touchdown outing that the Bills generated barely moved the needle on an offense that ranks 31st in total yards and points, and last in yards passing.
The struggles reflect a combination of issues including:
— Breaking in rookie quarterback Josh Allen.
— Unexpected offseason personnel losses, such as center Eric Wood being diagnosed with a career-ending neck injury, and left guard Richie Incognito forcing his way off the team after being unhappy with taking a pay cut.
— Beane’s intent to shed high-priced contracts in trading quarterback Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland and left tackle Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati, and not re-signing linebacker Preston Brown and cornerback E.J. Gaines.
And there was one mistake the general manager owns up to making.
Beane misjudged the team’s lack of experienced depth at quarterback after trading AJ McCarron to Oakland a week before the start of the season, leaving Buffalo with second-year player Nathan Peterman as the starter, and Allen as the backup.
Once Allen was forced to take over after Peterman reverted to his turnover-prone ways midway through a 47-3 season-opening loss at Baltimore, Beane waited until Week 5 to lure Derek Anderson out of semiretirement.
“Yes. One hundred percent. That’s on me, and nobody else,” Beane said. “I should’ve known better. I tried to push it off a couple of weeks. It was a mistake that I regret.”
At least Anderson was on the roster in time to step in two weeks later after Allen sprained his right throwing elbow in a 20-13 loss at Houston. Even then, Anderson struggled in throwing four interceptions and losing two fumbles in his next two starts before being sidelined by a concussion.
Peterman was cut this week, while Allen has resumed practicing and is in line to reclaim the job once Buffalo returns to host Jacksonville on Nov. 25.
Though the Bills will likely endure more downs than ups with Allen over the final six weeks, Beane and McDermott stress the rookie’s development is critical to the team’s needs beyond this season.
McDermott raised eyebrows when explaining his long-term vision following a 22-0 loss at Green Bay, in which Buffalo managed 145 yards and Allen threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
“There’s going to be some of these moments. As hard as it is, you’ve got to understand where we are in the build,” McDermott said. “We’re trying to develop a culture here. The culture, to me, trumps strategy.”
There’s no magic wand Beane can wave to speed up the process, which was evident this past offseason in failing to add talent on offense.
It’s not as if he didn’t try.
“We were in on guys on offense. But it got to the point where they were either higher than we thought they were valued,” Beane said. “Or there were cases where we lost out. A guy wanted to go where there was an established quarterback.”
Though Beane didn’t name which free agents the Bills expressed interest in landing, one is receiver John Brown, who signed a one-year, $5 million contract with Baltimore.
The Bills were also interested in receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, who signed with Chicago. In 2017, the Bills were interested in re-signing Robert Woods, before realizing they weren’t in a position to get into a bidding war for a player who eventually signed a five-year, $34 million contract with the Los Angeles Rams.
Instead, Buffalo committed its limited resources on defense in signing defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, pass-rusher Trent Murphy and cornerback Vontae Davis, who abruptly quit the team at halftime during a 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2.
Difficult as it’s been, Beane isn’t veering from his plan, and confident the Bills will improve.
Rookies, such as Allen, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, cornerback Taron Johnson and guard Wyatt Teller, are gaining valuable on-field experience. The cap situation is being resolved, though Beane stressed he’s going to be “judicious” in spending, while continuing to focus on building through the draft.
“You can’t just all of a sudden abort the mission because you’re 2-7 and start doing this or just trading away assets to bring in a guy,” he said, before the win at New York.
“It will hurt you in the future, and you’re going to regret it,” Beane added. “We are frustrated. But I am wired that when you put a plan in place, you see the plan out.”
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Jets hit bye-week break with lots of uncertainty, fan unrest

By DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Pro Football Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — By the time Todd Bowles walked off the field at MetLife Stadium and disappeared into the tunnel, many New York Jets fans figured that was the last time they’d see him on their team’s sideline.
Not quite. Not yet.
An embarrassing 41-10 loss to the equally lowly Buffalo Bills last Sunday brought out the venom from Bowles’ biggest detractors — the number of whom has quickly multiplied over the past several weeks. They hoped the bye-week break would bring about a change at the top in response to the team’s miserable 3-7 start.
Owner Christopher Johnson instead opted to not fire Bowles right now — much to the dismay of a large portion of the fan base.
“I understand,” wide receiver Jermaine Kearse said. “Everybody is frustrated. I understand the fans are frustrated. We’re frustrated. It’s understandable. We’re going to stick together. We’re going to stick with Todd. We’re going to have his back.
“And, we’re going to take the bye week, regroup and try to figure this (stuff) out.”
The Jets have six games left and will be hard-pressed to even match the 5-11 records they put up in each of the past two seasons. New York has two games against New England, including a home matchup out of the break, and meetings with Tennessee, Buffalo, Houston and Green Bay — no gimmes in the bunch.
The general feeling is that Bowles’ fate is, in fact, sealed and the Jets will embark on a coaching search as soon as the regular season ends.
“We have to own it and have a week to live with it,” Bowles said of having the bye after such a brutal loss. “They get some time off, make sure they rest up and get healthy. We’re going to come back and try to win six games, one at a time, and see who wants to play.”
The one player everyone’s eyes will be on is rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, whose right foot strain kept him out of the debacle against Buffalo. Bowles said the No. 3 overall pick is also now out of the walking boot he was in last week during practice, a positive sign that he could perhaps soon return.
Darnold’s development will again be at the top of the list of priorities, regardless of the job status of Bowles and his staff. The former USC star has thrown a league-leading 14 interceptions and struggled in three straight losses before his injury.
“I think it’s just me, at some moments in the game, getting in my own head,” Darnold said. “I’ve just got to stay true to my progressions, stay true to the confidence that I normally have and just go out there and sling it.”
Darnold has shown some positive signs, making some impressive plays while also receiving rave reviews from his coaches for his ability to mentally digest the game.
He has made lots of mistakes, too, as he struggles through rookie growing pains. But Darnold is far from the only one having issues.
Jeremy Bates’ sluggish offense ranks 29th in the NFL and has been inconsistent. Injuries to receivers Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa haven’t helped, neither has the shaky offensive line play. The running game has also been mostly grounded the past few games since gaining 323 yards against Denver in Week 5.
“Right now, we’re not scoring touchdowns,” Bates said. “That’s my responsibility to get our players to score touchdowns and I’ll do a better job at that.”
That’s the resounding feeling all around the facility, from the coaches to the players to general manager Mike Maccagnan, whose spotty record in the draft and free agency has contributed to a lack of roster depth.
While first-rounders Leonard Williams, Darron Lee and Jamal Adams — and even Darnold — are starters and major contributors, only 12 of the 22 players drafted from 2015-17 remain on the roster. The bulk of the crop from those draft classes should be major depth pieces now, namely wide receivers ArDarius Stewart (third round, 2017) and Chad Hansen (fourth, 2017). Instead, the Jets will look to make a big-time splash in free agency next offseason with about $100 million in salary cap space.
“This is an offseason we feel really good about,” Maccagnan said. “We’ve done a lot of work already and we’re going to do a lot more work on the pro free agency.”
Staying patient is a tough task for most Jets fans. After all, they’ve been doing that for 50 years, since the franchise’s one and only trip to the Super Bowl.
Anger and frustration are the prevailing emotions right now among the team’s most dedicated followers. And, the Jets insist they’re right there with them.
“Imagine if it’s your job, how much more upset you are,” quarterback Josh McCown said. “So I think that’s the case for us. I think that’s what I would say, is that we feel the same way. We’re probably even more so than them because it’s our livelihood and this is the game that we love. So when you go out and play like that, we’re upset about that and it’s unacceptable.
“We want to find a way to make it different. That’s the main thing.”
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Syracuse-Notre Dame matchup headlines ACC’s 12th week

By The Associated Press
Things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 12:
No. 12 Syracuse vs. No. 3 Notre Dame. Coach Dino Babers’ Orange (8-2, 5-2, No. 12 CFP) have been the surprise story of the season in the ACC, making a case for a New Year’s Six bowl berth after being picked in the preseason to finish last in the Atlantic Division. With QB Eric Dungey leading the league’s second-highest-scoring offense (44.4 ppg), Syracuse will head to Yankee Stadium trying to knock the Fighting Irish (10-0) out of College Football Playoff position.
Pittsburgh’s rushing offense vs. Wake Forest’s run defense. The Panthers (6-4, 5-1) are riding their ground game to the brink of an ACC Championship Game berth, averaging nearly 257 yards rushing to rank second in the league behind Georgia Tech’s trademark triple option. A win will send Pitt to Charlotte for the title game . The Demon Deacons (5-5, 2-4) and their rejuvenated defense held North Carolina State to 47 yards rushing in a 27-23 upset of the 22nd-ranked Wolfpack.
Some ACC schools keep coming up with big plays. Clemson leads the nation with 18 plays from scrimmage that have gone for at least 50 yards, while Pittsburgh is tied for third with 14 of them — including Qadree Ollison’s 97-yard touchdown run last week against Virginia Tech. Duke has 11 of those 50-yarders, including a 68-yard run for QB Daniel Jones and a 52-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Chris Taylor in last week’s win over North Carolina.
Virginia will need an upset of Georgia Tech — and some help — to remain in contention in the Coastal Division. The Cavaliers (7-3, 4-2) are 6½-point underdogs in Atlanta against a Yellow Jackets team that has found its stride. The key, as it is in every Georgia Tech game, comes down to stopping the run. Coach Paul Johnson’s team leads the FBS with an average of 362.4 yards rushing while Virginia has the league’s fourth-best run defense, allowing 136 yards per game.
N.C. State receiver Kelvin Harmon is coming off a record-tying performance and has a chance to break that mark at Louisville this week. Harmon’s 15 catches against Wake Forest matched the school’s single-game record and is the most of any power-conference player this season. The Cardinals’ defense ranks last in the ACC in yards per pass attempt (8.3 ypa) and the big question mark is how they’ll play now that coach Bobby Petrino has been fired.
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Bills coach: QB Allen will regain starting job when healthy

By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — It appears as if journeyman quarterback Matt Barkley’s successful debut as the Buffalo Bills starter will be limited to one outing.
A day after a 41-10 win at the New York Jets, in which Barkley breathed life into an anemic offense in his first NFL start in nearly two years, coach Sean McDermott on Monday announced rookie Josh Allen will reclaim the starting job once he’s healthy.
With the Bills entering their bye week, there’s a very good chance of Allen being back behind center on Nov. 25, when Buffalo (3-7) next takes the field hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Josh is our starter when healthy, and his development is important for him and for us as we move forward, getting experience,” McDermott said. “You’ve seen a lot of quarterbacks this season play, and it’s important that he gets as many reps as he can get in live game action.”
One quarterback who will no longer be in the mix is turnover-prone backup Nathan Peterman, who was released by the Bills later in the day.
Allen is 2-3 as a starter, and has missed four games since spraining his right throwing elbow. The first-round draft pick began testing his arm on Nov. 2, and spent all of last week practicing on a limited basis. He wasn’t ruled out from playing against the Jets until Saturday.
McDermott said Allen continues to make progress and threw passes earlier in the day.
Allen’s status, however, doesn’t diminish what Barkley accomplished in helping Buffalo snap a four-game skid less than two weeks after signing with the Bills.
“I liked the look in his eye and the energy he gave our offense,” McDermott said of Barkley, now on his sixth team in six seasons.
In being the fourth quarterback to start for the Bills this season, Barkley was the first to complete two touchdown passes, including one to left tackle Dion Dawkins, and finishing 15 of 25 for 232 yards passing. He oversaw an offense that set season-highs in points, total yards (451), yards rushing (212), first downs (23) and converted eight of 16 third-down opportunities.
The 41 points alone topped the 33 Buffalo combined to score in its previous four games, and marked nearly half of the 96 points the Bills scored through their first nine games.
Just as important, Barkley didn’t commit a turnover after Buffalo’s quarterbacks combined for 12 interceptions — three of them returned for touchdowns — and three lost fumbles in their previous six games.
Rookie Robert Foster had three catches for 105 yards receiving in becoming Buffalo’s first player to top 100 since Deonte Thompson had 107 in a 30-27 win over Tampa Bay on Oct. 22, 2017.
Even running back LeSean McCoy benefited by scoring twice to end a 10-game scoring drought, dating to last season. With 113 yards rushing, McCoy also topped 100 for the first time since gaining 156 on a snow-covered field in a 13-7 overtime win against Indianapolis last Dec. 10.
“I knew that I could play in this league,” Barkley said after improving his career record to 2-5. “I don’t want to be cliche by saying it’s like riding a bike, but I’ve done this for years. I believe I was made to play football, and tonight was just an example of going out there and doing what I was made to do.”
In the big picture, the Bills are grooming Allen — not Barkley — to be their long-term starter.
“There’s something to be said for energy and momentum and what not, but at the same time I know what Josh can do,” McDermott said, when asked if he considered sticking with the hot hand in Barkley.
Perhaps, he added, Barkley provided Allen a blueprint of how the Bills can succeed.
Allen showed the telltale signs of being a rookie in going 75 of 139 for 832 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions in five-plus games before he was hurt. Allen also had 155 yards rushing and three touchdowns, though he was occasionally knocked for being too eager to scramble out of the pocket.
Peterman was released after McDermott said he maintained confidence in the second-year player.
That wasn’t apparent in McDermott’s actions in starting Barkley against the Jets, a week after Peterman threw three interceptions in a 41-9 loss to Chicago. Peterman was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 draft out of Pittsburgh and wound up throwing 13 interceptions in nine career appearances, including playoffs.
Peterman began this year as the starter, before losing the job early in the third quarter of a 47-3 season-opening loss at Baltimore.
He’s best remembered for throwing five interceptions in the first half of his first career start in a 54-24 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers a little under a year ago.
Derek Anderson is the third quarterback on Buffalo’s roster, and has missed two games because of a concussion.
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Bills release turnover-prone quarterback Nathan Peterman

By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Nathan Peterman’s turnover-over prone days with the Buffalo Bills are over after the second-year player was cut by the team on Monday.
The move was announced as the Bills (3-7) enter their bye week, and not long after coach Sean McDermott backed Peterman earlier in the day.
“I’m still confident in Nate,” he said.
McDermott’s recent decisions, however, did not appear to match his belief in a player who threw seven interceptions in four appearances this season, and 13 overall in nine career games, including a brief playoff stint last season.
Peterman became the odd man out on a team carrying four quarterbacks, and with rookie Josh Allen set to reclaim his starting job after missing four games with a sprained right throwing elbow.
The Bills are off until they host Jacksonville on Nov. 25.
Peterman was passed on the depth chart by Matt Barkley, who took over the starting job in a 41-10 win over the New York Jets on Sunday. McDermott opted to start Barkley, despite having just signed with Buffalo on Oct. 30, and a week after Peterman — starting in place of injured veteran backup Derek Anderson (concussion) — threw three interceptions in a 41-9 loss to Chicago.
Buffalo considered Peterman to be a project in selecting him with a fifth-round pick in the 2017 draft out of Pittsburgh. He spent his final two seasons at Pitt after transferring from Tennessee.
This year, the 24-year-old went from winning a three-way offseason quarterback competition, which also included AJ McCarron, to being off the team entirely.
His starting tenure lasted two series into the third quarter, after which he was pulled in favor of Allen in a season-opening 47-3 loss at Baltimore.
Things unraveled further when Peterman took over after Allen was hurt in the third quarter of a 20-13 loss at Houston on Oct. 14. After hitting Zay Jones for a go-ahead touchdown, Peterman closed the game by throwing two interceptions, including one returned for the decisive score in the final two minutes.
He’s best remembered for throwing five interceptions in the first half of his first career start in a 54-24 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers a little under a year ago.
Following the loss, McDermott acknowledged to his players he erred in electing to start Peterman ahead of Tyrod Taylor in a bid to spark an underperforming offense in the midst of a two-game skid.
Taylor reclaimed the starting duties the following week, and closed the season 4-2 in helping Buffalo end a 17-season playoff drought, which had been the longest active streak in North America’s four major professional sports.
Overall, including playoffs, Peterman went 69 of 133 for 563 yards and three touchdowns.
Peterman maintained an upbeat approach despite his struggles.
“I’m still here,” he said, the week leading up to what proved to be his final start against Chicago. “And every time you’re here, every time you step on the field, and you’re in this building, I’m always ready. I was ready last week. And I’m going to be ready again this week.”
He also didn’t shy away from acknowledging his miscues.
“Mistakes are in the past. I’ve learned from them. I’ve taken them to heart. I’ll never forget them,” Peterman said. “But at the same time, I’ll learn from them and move on.”
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Bills cut receiver Pryor in latest move during bye week

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills have released receiver Terrelle Pryor two weeks after signing the eighth-year player.
The move was announced Tuesday during the Bills’ bye week.
Pryor had just two catches on eight targets for 17 yards in two games. He became the odd man out after Robert Foster had 105 yards receiving in a 41-10 win over the New York Jets on Sunday, a day after the rookie was promoted off the practice squad.
It’s the second time Pryor has been cut this season. He had 14 catches for 235 yards and two touchdowns in six games with the Jets before reaching an injury settlement with the team after sustaining a groin injury.
Pryor’s departure leaves Buffalo with two openings on its roster after quarterback Nathan Peterman was cut on Monday. The Bills are 3-7, and off until hosting Jacksonville on Nov. 25.
The Bills also signed cornerback Denzel Rice to their practice squad.
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Leipold transforming Buffalo football from pushover to power

By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
AMHERST, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo coach Lance Leipold interjected when asked how quickly it took him to turn around a team that went from two victories to being on the verge of winning 10 games for the first time since the university began tracking football records in 1894.
“Quickly? I don’t know if it seems like quickly some days,” Leipold said with a chuckle, referring to the two years since the Bulls bottomed out in his second season.
“That 2-10 season was extremely difficult in a lot of ways,” he added. “And yet there were some things that we knew were going to get better.”
Leipold was referring to what was then a raw but talented class of sophomores and redshirt freshmen.
The group included quarterback Tyree Jackson, receivers Anthony Johnson and K.J. Osborn and linebacker Khalil Hodge. They now form the core of the Bulls (9-1, 6-0 Mid-American Conference), who are off to the best start in program history and already matched the school record for wins, which was set in 1986 when Buffalo played at the Division III level.
“I think it was very apparent, even last September, that we were taking strides in the right direction,” Leipold said. “Now strides to us doesn’t always equate into how many wins last season or this season. But we knew we were getting closer.”
The Bulls have gone beyond what few could have envisioned in transforming themselves from long-time pushovers — this is their third winning season since joining the MAC in 1999 — to a formidable powerhouse while getting votes in the national polls.
With two games left, starting with a trip to Ohio (6-4, 4-2 MAC) on Wednesday night, Buffalo needs one win to clinch the East Division title and only its second berth in the conference championship game.
And the Bulls have all but assured themselves of what would be the program’s fourth bowl berth, including in 1958, when Buffalo players elected not to take part in the Tangerine Bowl because the team’s two black players were not allowed to participate.
Jackson hasn’t forgotten how low things became in 2016.
“I think that’s something that actually kind of motivates you still,” said the junior quarterback, whose 24 touchdowns passing are five shy of Buffalo’s single-season record.
“I’ll always keep that with me, and keep that chip on my shoulder,” Jackson said. “I never want to feel that way again.”
Another motivating factor is how last season ended. Buffalo won its final three games to finish 6-6 before getting snubbed in the bowl-selection process.
“That’s something we definitely talk about: Leave no doubt,” center James O’Hagan said in September. “Getting six wins isn’t enough, and we can’t leave it up to other people to decide our fate.”
They’ve left nothing to chance this year.
Jackson oversees a dynamic dual-threat offense averaging a little over 36 points and 427 yards per game.
One week, the Bulls are winning with their passing attack. Johnson scored three times and set a school record with 238 yards receiving in a 51-42 win over Miami (Ohio) on Oct. 30.
The following week, it’s their ground game. Freshman Jaret Patterson had 187 yards rushing and two touchdowns in a 48-14 win over Kent State on Nov. 6.
And Buffalo’s stingy defense is allowing a MAC-low 328 yards per outing.
The Bulls have won 12 of their past 13, dating to last season, with the lone blemish a 42-13 home loss to Army on Sept. 29.
With a 22-24 record, Leipold already ranks fourth among Buffalo coaches in career victories.
Before being hired by Buffalo, Leipold went 109-6 over eight seasons at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater.
When asked to put this season’s success into perspective, Leipold reflected back to his first full-time coaching job as an assistant at Division II Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavericks, whose program has since been discontinued, went 1-10 in his first season, 1994, before winning the North Central Conference championship with a 10-2 record two years later.
“A lot of hard work, a lot of heartache,” he recalled. “That was my most rewarding time in coaching. I always felt we took something that wasn’t very good and we made it into a consistent winner.”
Leipold is doing it again in Buffalo.
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Hutton stops 29 shots in Sabres’ 2-1 win over Lightning

By JOHN WAWROW, AP Hockey Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Frantic as the final minute appeared, Buffalo Sabres goalie Carter Hutton reveled in the challenge of staring down Nikita Kucherov and the high-scoring Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It was mayhem,” Hutton said after stopping 29 shots to preserve a 2-1 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Lightning on Tuesday night.
“Truthfully, you embrace the battle,” he added. “You get to show what you’re made of and it was fun.”
It was a lot more fun for him after Kucherov hit the same post twice in the final 30 seconds from essentially the same spot in the lower right circle. The second opportunity came when Steven Stamkos fed a pass through the middle to Kucherov, whose one-timer hit the post and caromed wide just before the final buzzer.
No problem, Hutton said with a wide grin. He had the angle covered.
Jeff Skinner scored his team-leading 13th goal and Kyle Okposo also scored, and the suddenly resurgent Sabres won their third straight. Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu had two assists, and Buffalo improved to 10-6-2 for its best start since opening 11-7 in 2011-12.
Anthony Cirelli scored for the Lightning, who lost consecutive games for the first time since an 0-3 skid from March 24-29 last season. Lightning backup Louis Domingue finished with 17 saves.
After slamming his stick on the glass as the game ended, Kucherov’s frustrations carried over into the locker room upon being reminded of his two missed opportunities.
“My thoughts? It (stinks) when you don’t score,” he said. “Sometimes it happens. It happened today. For us, forget this game as soon as possible and move forward.”
The Sabres limited the NHL’s top offense to one goal after Tampa Bay had scored four or more in each of its past five games.
Skinner opened the scoring with 2:15 left in the first period, when he was parked in front and converted a rebound after Domingue stopped Sam Reinhart’s shot from the top of the right circle.
The Sabres somehow matched the Lightning in scoring one goal apiece in the second period despite being outshot 14-2.
Hutton held the fort in making numerous clutch stops starting from the opening minute, when he foiled Stamkos driving in alone across the front.
Okposo put Buffalo up 2-0 at the 5:43 mark of the period when he used defender Victor Hedman as a screen and scored on a low shot from the right circle that fooled Domingue.
The Lightning responded 15 seconds later, when Alex Killorn flipped a pass from his own blue line and over two Sabres defenders, including a leaping Rasmus Dahlin. The puck landed on the stick of Cirelli, who scored on a breakaway by beating Hutton high on the glove side.
The Sabres’ three-game winning streak is their second of the season. Buffalo won three straight just once a year ago, when the team finished last in the NHL standings for the third time in five seasons.
Though relieved to pull out the win, Okposo said the Sabres were too passive in trying to nurse the one-goal lead.
“We were on our heels a little too much,” he said. “We weren’t sharp. We’ve got to clean up some stuff. I know we’ve won the last three games, but we probably only played real good for a period and a half.”
Okposo then laughed when asked if he would’ve complained after a three-game winning streak last season.
“Yeah, probably not,” he said. “But our standard’s higher this year.”
NOTES: Lightning D Erik Cernak made his NHL debut after being called up from Syracuse of the AHL earlier in the day. The 21-year-old replaced Anton Stralman, who missed his second game with an upper-body injury. … The Sabres are 6-2-1 at home, a year after matching a franchise low with 11 home wins. … Sabres C Patrik Berglund was a healthy scratch, with C Zemgus Girgensons returning after being a healthy scratch against Vancouver on Saturday. … Lightning LW Adam Erne left the ice holding his jaw after being struck by a shot from teammate Ryan Callahan with 6:44 left in the second. Erne returned before the period was over.
Lightning: Continue four-game road trip at Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
Sabres: Open three-game road trip at Winnipeg on Friday night.
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Barkley, Bills light up listless Jets 41-10

By DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Pro Football Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Matt Barkley had just put the finishing touches on a stunning victory when he jogged over to the sideline, found his mother in the stands and handed her his well-deserved game ball.
It was quite a moment for the Buffalo Bills quarterback, who looked nothing like a guy who had no job and an uncertain future just a few weeks ago.
Barkley sparked Buffalo’s bumbling offense with two touchdown passes, including one to offensive tackle Dion Dawkins , LeSean McCoy broke out of a season-long slump with 113 yards rushing and a pair of TD runs, and the Bills embarrassed the New York Jets 41-10 on Sunday.
“For me, I knew I could play in this league,” Barkley said. “To get back out there after two years, it was, and I don’t want to be cliché by saying it was like riding a bike, but I’ve done this for years. I feel like I was made to play football and (today) was an example of going out there and doing what I was made to do.”
Barkley made his first start in nearly two years, and looked the best of any of the four quarterbacks the Bills (3-7) have trotted out this season. The 28-year-old journeyman was 15 of 25 for 232 yards while helping Buffalo snap a four-game losing streak as the Bills put up 451 yards of total offense.
Barkley got the nod from coach Sean McDermott ahead of the ineffective Nathan Peterman despite having just two weeks of practice with the Bills since signing on Oct. 30. Rookie Josh Allen has missed four straight games with a sprained right elbow, and Derek Anderson is sidelined with a concussion. Barkley’s last start came in the 2016 season finale for Chicago.
Now the question is: Should Barkley be the Bills’ starter moving forward?
“I don’t know,” Barkley said. “That’s a question I don’t have the answer to, nor the authority to answer. I’ll be ready to play. This QB situation seems to be fluctuating. In whatever way I can help this team, that’s my goal.”
Added McDermott: “Give me some time on that.”
Meanwhile, the hot seat under coach Todd Bowles reached a boiling point as the Jets (3-7) got completely manhandled by a team that entered with a league-low 96 points and had two touchdowns in its previous four games.
“Everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong,” Bowles said. “We stunk it up as coaches, we stunk it up as players.”
The Jets have a bye-week break and the future of Bowles, in his fourth season, is in serious doubt. Owner Christopher Johnson declined comment to reporters after the game.
“We’re going to try like hell to win our last six games,” Bowles said.
New York started 39-year-old Josh McCown in place of injured rookie Sam Darnold, but he couldn’t prevent the Jets from their fourth straight loss in front of a frustrated fan base that booed lustily throughout.
McCown was 17 of 34 for 135 yards with two interceptions, and the Jets finished with just 199 total yards.
“That’s the first time I felt like somebody really smacked us,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said, “and we didn’t do nothing about it.”
Barkley certainly didn’t look rusty, launching a 47-yard pass to Robert Foster on the Bills’ first offensive play. Foster, just promoted from the practice squad, beat top Jets cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who had missed the previous five games with an injured quadriceps.
On the next play, Barkley handed off to McCoy, who scored his first touchdown of the season with a 28-yard run that gave Buffalo a 7-0 lead 49 seconds in.
Barkley and the Bills took a 14-0 lead midway through the opening quarter on a fluky play. On third-and-7 from the 11, Zay Jones caught a pass and took it 10 yards before fumbling as he reached the goal line. Tight end Jason Croom recovered in the end zone for a touchdown that was upheld by video review.
The 14-play, 73-play drive was prolonged by a fake punt on fourth-and-6 from the Bills 47 when the ball was snapped directly to tight end Logan Thomas, a quarterback at Virginia Tech. Thomas then completed a 19-yard pass to Foster for the first down.
The Bills outgained the Jets 186-1 after one quarter, and added to their lead less than two minutes into the second quarter on Stephen Hauschka’s 54-yard field goal that made it 17-0.
If there was any doubt as to where this game was headed, the Bills added in some trickery — and embarrassment for the Jets — on their next drive.
Dawkins lined up as an eligible receiver on first-and-goal from the 7. Barkley, of course, found the 6-foot-5, 320-pound lineman wide open for a touchdown.
The Jets had another brutal sequence on their next possession, when they had three — yes, three — holding penalties called on one play. Then McCown, facing a blitz, threw the ball up down the left sideline and Matt Milano picked it off.
Seven plays later, McCoy ran it in from the 1 — moments after it was ruled he was down there and had a TD reversed — to put Buffalo up 31-0.
McCoy surpassed 500 career points, and vaulted into 26th place on the career yards rushing list. He also topped 100 yards rushing for the first time since gaining 156 in a 13-7 overtime win over Indianapolis on Dec. 10.
“It’s like that big monkey’s off my back a little bit,” McCoy said.
McCoy has 10 career games with at least 100 yards on the ground and two rushing TDs, joining Adrian Peterson as the only active players to do so.
Bills CB Taron Johnson left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and didn’t return. … Milano left to be evaluated for a head injury in the fourth quarter. … The Jets reported no injuries.
Bills: Bye. Home vs. Jacksonville on Nov. 25.
Jets: Bye. Home vs. New England on Nov. 25.
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Bills coach: QB Allen will regain starting job when healthy

By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott says rookie quarterback Josh Allen will reclaim the starting job should he be healthy when the team returns from its bye week off.
McDermott made the announcement Monday, a day after journeyman backup Matt Barkley threw two touchdowns in a 41-10 win at the New York Jets. As well as Barkley played in his first start in two years and two weeks after signing with Buffalo, McDermott stressed Allen is the starter and his continued development is important.
Buffalo is 3-7, and is off until hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars on Nov. 25.
Allen has a 2-3 record and missed the past four games since spraining his right throwing elbow. The first-round draft pick began testing his arm on Nov. 2, and spent all of last week practicing on a limited basis. He wasn’t ruled out from playing against the Jets until Saturday.
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