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What's left to play for? Bills have three reasons, plus 53

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The Buffalo Bills have another losing record and missed the playoffs a 14th straight season.

We've known that for a couple weeks.

Yet they still have much to play for -- some of it symbolic, some of it tangible.

A victory Sunday over the New England Patriots would:

  • Give the Bills their first triumph in that stadium since it was built 12 years ago.
  • Give the Bills the only winning record in the AFC East at 4-2. The Patriots would be 3-3.
  • Give the Bills a three-game winning streak for the first time since September 2011.

Bills coach Doug Marrone also explained the final game of any season is more important than the others because it's the last chance for that team to play together.

Rosters go through changes each year, especially when the team doesn't win more games than it loses. Cuts, retirements, free agents and draft picks ensure turnover.

Marrone recalled the moment that sentiment was driven home for him. He was a freshman at Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx. The Mount had lost a championship game the week before, but had one more to play against Cardinal Hayes.

Mount assistant coach Frank Burke, a Notre Dame halfback in 1940s, delivered a fire-and-brimstone pregame speech about what it meant to take the field for the final time with your football brothers.

"I always think that you go through an offseason, you go through so many things together as a team," Marrone said, "and because of change in our profession and change at the high-school level or wherever you want to play, it's your last chance to go out there for each other.

"I think it's a special bond, and that's the way I look at the last game. Again, I may be different than most people, but that's how it was instilled in me at a young age and that’s how I look at it. I look at it as being extremely important."

  • Millhouse

    If the Bills have this much to play for, then SHOW EVERYONE-go up there, win the game and make a statement.

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About the reporters

Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.