BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Stefon Diggs expressed his frustration to Josh Allen on the sideline during the final moments of the Bills’ divisional playoff loss. With a few weeks to process his emotions, the star receiver elaborated on the disappointing end to the Bills season during a series of Super Bowl week interviews.
“I will never apologize for passion,” Diggs said on the Dan Patrick Show. “Some people will say don’t be a sore loser. It’s hard not to be frustrated.”
“I show you a good loser,” Diggs added. “I show you a loser.”
The Bills matched a franchise record with 13 regular season victories. They won eight in a row down the stretch, including the wild-card playoff game against the Dolphins. But failing to reach Super Bowl aspirations made the final loss to the Bengals difficult for Diggs to accept.
“I want to give you the storybook, or the political, that sounds great, like yeah we gave it everything we’ve got, we fell short,” Diggs said on the Rich Eisen Show.
“But it is disappointing. It is very off-putting. It’s such a delicate season this year with everything that took place, and the adversity that we had to battle and it felt like the world was pulling for us. And in a way, we kind of let them down. Especially how we didn’t resolve and how we didn’t see the whole thing through.”
Diggs, who was selected to his third consecutive Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro by the AP, said his emotional outburst at the end of the playoff loss was a culmination of angst that built over the second half of the season.
“It feels like the first nine weeks of our season, we had a clear identity, we had a recipe that was working,” Diggs told Eisen. “We kind of got away from it toward the back end. We kind of figured out ways to win, but we weren’t necessarily winning with that energy we had those first nine weeks.”
While Buffalo’s offensive production began to take a downturn in the second half of a 27-17 home win against Green Bay in the eighth week of the season, it should be noted that Allen injured his elbow late in the following game, a 20-17 loss at the New York Jets. The next week, Buffalo lost 33-30 in overtime to Minnesota; Diggs had one of his best outings of the season against his former team, catching 12 of a season-high 16 targets for 128 yards.
Diggs’ production did diminish after that loss. Through the first nine games, Diggs had 72 receptions for 985 yards and seven touchdowns on 99 targets. The Bills scored 27.8 points per game during a 6-3 start. Over the final nine games (including postseason), Diggs had 47 receptions for 593 yards and four touchdowns on 74 targets. The Bills averaged 27.7 points in their 8-1 finish.
“We were creating ways to win, but just how we were winning wasn’t as smooth as the first nine weeks,” Diggs told Dan Patrick. “We had a lot of ups and downs. And individually, trying to keep things tied together, it was just some crucial moments late in the year, late in the fourth quarter, there were opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of.”
Diggs’ biggest disappointment came from not having the opportunity to make a game-changing play when the season was on the line.
“That last series, that last play, when you saw frustration, it wasn’t necessarily just that play, but those moments that built up to it,” Diggs said. “In that moment, it was fourth and whatever, I was one-on-one on the backside and I wanted to put us in a position to win.”
Diggs did not speak publicly after several games late in the season, including the playoff loss. His media appearances during Super Bowl week were part of a promotional campaign for Downy. Diggs did share his frustration on Twitter two days after the season ended: “Want me to be okay with losing? Nah,” he wrote. “Want me to be okay with our level of play when it’s not up to the standard? Nah.”
Bills general manager Brandon Beane defended Diggs during his postseason press conference.
“Stef’s a competitor. I’d rather have guys like that,” Beane said. “I’ve been around it. Steve Smith was a lot like that (in Carolina). I’d rather have guys I gotta cool off. He wants to win. I can live with that.”
After winning AFC East division titles but losing before the Super Bowl in each of Diggs’ three seasons in Buffalo, Diggs told Sports Illustrated that he will remain frustrated until the Bills reach a championship level.
“We’ve been at it for three years,” Diggs said. “So, kind of getting to that point now where, hey what are we doing now? We’ve got to try and make this thing make sense, and figure out what’s what.”
Diggs concluded he won’t be satisfied until he’s holding the Lombardi Trophy at season’s end.
“I believe I’m a champion,” Diggs told Patrick. “So until I reach champion status or champion level, I always am going to believe I’m falling short.”