It’s week four, Buffalo Bills fans, and we’ve set up camp for our second-straight home game before making the long trip south to Kansas City next weekend. We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. Every game is a big one, and we have a familiar opponent knocking at our gate on this chilly (I assume) October afternoon. The Houston Texans have come to town for the first matchup since that fateful 2019-20 Wild Card game, but we’ll get into that later. Let’s instead start at the beginning, with the brand new franchise coming into the AFC.
Expansion Team Debut
It was 2002, and Houston had started their first-ever season off right with a win over Quincy Carter’s Dallas Cowboys. Still, it would quickly turn into a lost season, as every expansion year inevitably does. By week six, Houston had fallen to 1-4 and played host to Drew Bledsoe’s Buffalo Bills.
Things started off relatively poorly for Buffalo. Still, by the beginning of the second half, they had regained their footing. With most of the credit going to Travis Henry for his unyielding rushing, evening the score at 17-17 halfway through the third quarter. Houston took the lead to start the fourth. However, Eric Moulds responded immediately. Hauling in a 23-yard grab for six to break even for the last time before a Peerless Price touchdown put the game away. For all of the misfortune of the drought, Buffalo would not add losing to an expansion team to that list.
The Betweener Years
We won’t lie. There isn’t very much to tell here. A mix of bad-to-mediocre Bills teams taking on a mix of bad-to-mediocre Texans teams throughout fifteen or so years hardly made for prime-time entertainment. There were a few moments of true interest for Bills fans, and one of them came early. Eric Moulds’ first game against Buffalo since being traded for a 5th-round draft pick in 2006 was exciting, but not for him. JP Losman made a case for a long-term starting role, posting a whopping 340 passing yards on 26/38; We can’t fail to mention that 265 of those came on 11 catches by Lee Evans. Evans’ back-to-back 83-yard touchdowns in the first quarter put some fear into the NFL, but after letting Houston back in, the Bills needed a late Peerless Price TD to seal it once again. Sound familiar?
From then, the series took a turn for the worse, with Buffalo shedding three-straight losses to the Texans by a combined score of 75-36. Tyrod Taylor, Sammy Watkins, and LeSean McCoy pulled off an upset in 2015 to break the streak. Ultimately Houston became relevant, and Buffalo had long since disappeared into obscurity. Tying the series 4-4.
Rookie Josh Takes On Texas
The league had failed to hide their laughter at the selection of Josh Allen at 7th overall in 2018 and, despite flashing at times, he’d given them very little to eat their words about. He brought some boom on a southern October afternoon, but his offensive line hadn’t done the same. He was taken out of the game by a vicious late hit by Whitney Mercilus underneath his throwing arm. Nathan Peterman was exactly as good as we all expected, and it was this game that ultimately led to the signing of our one-time beloved ‘renegade,’ Matt Barkley.
A Wild Wild Card Game
Tragically, this series would be remiss without one of the most exciting (and heartbreaking) games in recent history. Josh had brought everything he could to this game, making the most of a sloppy offensive line and poor play-calling all around him, coming out with a 13-point lead at halftime. The open touchdown drive, followed by two mid-range field goals, wasn’t enough. After a confusing and improperly overturned second-half kickoff touchdown was rejected, we led a field-goal drive to make it 16 before crumbling in epic fashion.
The team was their own worst enemy and the unfortunate emergence of DeAndre Hopkins midway through the game made for tough sledding. Still, we had the chances to win and couldn’t take advantage of them. At best, the play-calling was still mediocre. A few mistakes on defense and poor execution on offense ultimately doomed us. However, there was another opportunity as Buffalo drove into field goal range in overtime for the win.
On a scramble drill outside the pocket, Cody Ford was called for an illegal blindside block on a defender, forcing Buffalo back out of field goal range. This ended up costing them the game. This was inarguably a bad call. The NFL would apologize for the mistake and use the clip of the block in an instructional video for referees on what constitutes a clean block, but that doesn’t do Bills fans any good, does it? The team and its supporters had a potential playoff win stolen out from under them.
Where do we stand now? The Texans have been trending down ever since, sliding down an ever-slipperier slope. That final game may have been the fuel our team needed for its record-breaking 2020 season. Josh Allen developed into the QB we all know and love today, and our offense stepped up to the league-topping unit we’ve grown to expect. Now we’re back to win it all, and if it comes down to a judgment call again, let’s hope the NFL’s officiating team can get it right this time.