Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen said the team has a "sense of urgency" heading into Sunday's road game against the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bills have lost three of their last five games and dropped to the No. 7 seed in the AFC, putting them on the playoff fringe in a year they were expected to seriously compete for a championship.
Allen discussed the team's mindset ahead of a marquee clash with Tom Brady and the Bucs:
"We're extremely hungry. I think there obviously is a sense of urgency of what we need to do, but there's no panic in our locker room. We're extremely united right now with what we need to do. We've had a couple of really good days of practice and walkthroughs, and we're looking forward to going out there and getting a chance to play against the defending world champs and arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game."
Buffalo looked ready to meet expectations during the first few months of the 2021 season, highlighted by a four-game winning streak that featured a quartet of lopsided victories, including a 38-20 triumph over the two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs.
The Bills have lacked any semblance of consistency since that hot streak, however, as they've alternated wins and losses over their past seven games.
On Monday, they lost a crucial AFC East game to the New England Patriots, 14-10, as both offenses were neutralized by a windy Buffalo night. Some questionable decisions by head coach Sean McDermott and his staff also helped the Pats pick up a key divisional win.
Between the mediocre play and, as the Buffalo News' Jay Skurski put it, "some signs of internal strife," the Bills are a team that could desperately use a statement win.
A clash with the Buccaneers (9-3) provides a chance for exactly that, but Allen and Co. must significantly elevate their level of play.
The 25-year-old signal-caller, who finished second in NFL MVP voting last year, has thrown nine touchdowns and seven interceptions over the team's last five games. That ratio isn't good enough to carry a team that leans so heavily on its passing attack.
Facing a Bucs defense that ranks 20th in passing yards allowed per game (248.4) should present an opportunity for Allen to get back on track.
"We want to go out there and prove what type of team we are, not to you guys or anybody else, but to ourselves because we know the type of guys that we have in this locker room and the team that we can be," Allen said.
Tampa Bay can also provide some hope to Buffalo based on last year, when Brady's squad was 7-5 through 12 games before rattling off eight straight victories to win the Super Bowl.
On the flip side, if the Bills lose they'll be 7-6, and given the crowded nature of the AFC wild-card race, they'll be in serious danger of missing the playoffs altogether. It's a result that would represent one of the biggest disappointments in franchise history.
So while Allen isn't ready to push the panic button quite yet, that outlook could change if the Bills don't produce a strong bounce-back performance Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.