Second-half collapse sends Bills into offseason looking for playmakers

HOUSTON -- For 2½ quarters, the Buffalo Bills appeared ready to end a 24-year drought without a playoff victory Saturday against the Houston Texans; they'll have to wait at least one more season after an early exit from the NFL postseason.

Buffalo blew a 16-0 lead over the Texans in a 22-19 overtime loss in the AFC wild-card round -- just its second loss under coach Sean McDermott when leading by at least two scores. The blown lead set a new franchise playoff record for the Bills, who also blew an 11-point lead against the Chargers in 1980.

With the 2019 season over in western New York, Buffalo now must assess what went wrong and how it can improve in the offseason. The starting point must be to add weapons on offense. Rookie running back Devin Singletary often carried this offense out of necessity, but he won't be able to do so by himself in 2020 once defenses have a full offseason to prepare for him.

Wide receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley had career-best seasons in their first year in Buffalo, but the Bills would be wise to add a home run hitter -- a player who can score from anywhere on the field. The lack of explosive playmakers handicapped Buffalo's offense throughout the season, and the addition of a dynamic threat or two would open things up and keep this unit from another pedestrian year in 2020.

Describe the game in two words: Not ready. Buffalo started hot but ultimately played like a team that's not ready to win in the playoffs. Scoring field goals instead of touchdowns wasn't enough to put Houston away, and the Bills paid for it.

Pivotal play: On third-and-8 in the second half, quarterback Josh Allen lost a fumble at midfield, giving an energized Houston offense the ball with a short field. It took the Texans just six plays to score on a 41-yard field goal and essentially capture momentum for good.

Silver lining: Obviously, this ends the Bills' best season since the turn of the century, but there are reasons to be optimistic about the future. Allen took noticeable strides in his second season, and Singletary looks like a budding star. Buffalo also will enter the offseason with a surplus of draft picks and roughly $90 million in salary-cap space. The 2020 season was originally the target year for the Bills to officially turn things around under McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane, and with an ahead-of-schedule playoff appearance, that goal still appears to be on track.