ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. --Jason Avant has been an Eagle since 2005, and has been among the most reliable players this franchise has ever had. He catches everything thrown his way. He plays hurt. He never complains.
And he doesn't give the football away.
Until Sunday in Buffalo.
Avant's third-quarter fumble led to three critical Buffalo points and a fourth-quarter pass thrown his way was tipped, bobbled and then intercepted to end the Eagles' final offensive gasp in a 31-24 defeat. Avant had fumbled exactly twice, one lost (2006 season) prior to Sunday.
That didn't ease the pain he felt one bit after the loss to the Bills.
"It's not a good feeling," said Avant. "On the fumble, I thought I had the ball secure and the guy got it out. On the second one, they got us in a good defense and as soon as I caught it they took it out of my hands. They had a good call. It was a good play by them. They got it out.
"It's disappointing. I felt I was in a situation that caused the outcome of the game. You never want to be on that side of it. You want to make the play to help the team win. I take the responsibility for it. I didn't play my best game today when it came to ball security, and I'm sorry for it."
Avant caught a career-high 9 passes for 139 yards, but it wasn't enough. The Eagles turned the football over five times, continuing their season-long stretch of poor ball security.
"It's a costly loss. They all are," he said. "It doesn't feel good. I feel like we're better than this, but we're 1-4 and we have to dig out from it."
Avant's fumble came late in the third quarter after a 35-yard gain bailed the Eagles offense out of terrible field position at their own 2-yard line. Safety Jarius Byrd ripped the ball loose and recovered it, and Buffalo scored on a field goal.
The second turnover wasn't really Avant's fault. Cornerback Drayton Florence raked the ball out of Avant's hands on a third-down pass as the Eagles mounted their final drive, and the ball popped into the air. Avant reached up and tried to make the catch, but linebacker Nick Barnett swooped in for his second interception of the day.
It was a particularly galling way to lose once again.
"We have to keep on playing hard and taking it day by day," said Avant. "That's what we're going to do."