ORCHARD PARK (AP) — Linebacker Nick Barnett refuses to go as far back as last season when adding up the Buffalo Bills’ string of road woes.
To him, the count stands at 0-1 — and not 0-8 for a team that’s not won away from home since its 2011 season-opening 41-7 victory at Kansas City.
“I don’t know what eight games you’re talking about,” Barnett said, as the Bills (1-1) prepare to play at Cleveland (0-2) on Sunday. “It’s a new year. Things that happened in the past, happened in the past. For us, we did lose this first road game, and not in a good fashion.”
Barnett’s at least right about that in referring to how the Bills bumbled through a 48-28 season-opening loss at the New York Jets on Sept. 9. And if Barnett and his teammates intend to play up to their high expectations in becoming contenders this season, then there’s no question they must be much better than they’ve been on the road this year — or for much of the last one.
“Whatever it is that we need to turn around, this is the week to do it,” he said. “We’ve got to be focused.”
That would be a start, because the Bills have been dreadful away from home.
It’s a losing streak in which they’ve allowed 35 or more points five times and have been outscored by an average margin of 36-18. The streak is tied with Cleveland and Tampa Bay for the NFL’s second-longest active drought behind only Indianapolis, according to STATS LLC. The Colts have lost nine straight road games.
For the Bills, it’s tied for their fourth-longest road losing streak, and their worst since losing a franchise-record 22 straight from 1983-1986.
The Bills look ahead to traveling to Cleveland as a chance to build on the momentum coming off a 35-17 win over Kansas City.
“We lost the first one, but we bounced back and we got the second one,” receiver Stevie Johnson said, referring to the team’s 1-1 start. “Hopefully we can keep it going.”
As for what’s gone wrong on the road, Johnson has difficulty coming up with an explanation.
“I can’t really put my finger on it,” he said. “I think our away games, we come out more flat than how we do at home. Maybe that’s it.”
Coach Chan Gailey wasn’t sure if Johnson’s assessment was accurate.
“If I think we’re flat, then I’ve got to do something about it,” he said. “I’ve never felt that way.”
Gailey, however, had difficulty pinpointing what’s gone wrong.
“If I knew the reason, I’d solve the problem. I don’t,” he said. “We haven’t played well on the road, and I don’t have an answer to that one.”
They can start by looking at turnovers.
Since last season, 20 of the Bills’ 34 giveaways have occurred on the road. As for takeaways, Buffalo’s defense has forced just 10 of its past 35 away from home.
“That’s not a good stat. I think it’s obviously been too long,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “That’s something which hopefully we break in a hurry, because if you don’t win games on the road, then you’re not going to be very successful.”
Barnett said he usually enjoys playing on the road because of the challenge it presents.
“We’ve got to have that mentality of going to someone’s home and going in the refrigerator and drinking all the milk,” Barnett said.
“It could be soda or whatever,” Barnett added, with a laugh. “But milk, when you don’t have any milk and you want milk, that’s a problem. You can get water out of the faucet, but when the milk is gone, there’s no more getting it back.”
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)