Sunday, I visited my friend, Everett, a Dolphins fan, to watch the game between the Bills and the fish. His father (from Florida and also a Phins fan) joined us. We made chili cheese dip, had some brews, and were all set for what was sure to be a meaningful game.
The first quarter was stale. The Miami offense could do nothing, even with a turnover giving them the ball in good territory, and the Bills offense looked stagnant … no, hesitant. But after points poured down like lake effect snow on Erie County, I turned to my friend who had a familiar look on his face. It was that face of astonishment he and I both would get when the Bills or Dolphins took on the Patriots and were hopeful to win. It was that face I made when Stevie Johnson dropped that touchdown and lamented,
“I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!!” he tweeted late Sunday afternoon. “YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…”Stevie Johnson after the loss to the Steelers backups
I imagine Everett and his father may have questioned the big guy upstairs after the game. His father left early (after the game was decided), and who could blame him. But Everett, like the veteran he is, soldiered on and watched his gutsy and tough team burn like Rome in July, 64 AD.
There was no smack talk. There was no teasing or cajoling. No, we watched the game in near silence with the occasional hushed comment as though we were at the funeral wake of a dear friend.
Truth be told, I kind of wanted the Bills to lose that game. I wanted the Dolphins to be in the playoffs for my friend, for the classic rivalry between the blue-collar Bills and the spicy Dolphins, and because I wanted our boys to face this team in the playoffs.
It wasn’t funny anymore. And even I couldn’t have imagined the beatdown the Bills would lay in Orchard Park on Sunday afternoon. We parted ways quickly after the game (not usually our style). It was quiet, and I could see the disappointment I’d felt so many times before on his face. There were no words.
Jokes will come later. He will not escape this, but now is not the time, and I can truly say that this is the first time in a long time I felt like the Buffalo Bills were scary. They destroyed the Dolphins will to play, destroyed the heart and character that typified them all season, and, in the process, nearly broke the scoreboard. This was an arrogant game. It was like I could hear Sean McDermott shouting like Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia: “NO PRISONERS! NO PRISONERS!”
In case you somehow missed this game and don’t have a weak stomach, here are some highlights:
Here are 10 things I think I think about these Buffalo Bills entering the playoffs.
1. Isaiah McKenzie said, “Cole who?”
Who would have guessed that the first Buffalo Bills Special Teams return TD would not have been done by Andre Roberts? Not me. The Bills lose Cole Beasley for an undetermined amount of time with a leg injury, and Isaiah McKenzie stepped in to show that he is not just a gadget guy. Mckenzie finished the game with six receptions for 65 yards and three touchdowns (two receiving and that punt return). McKenzie isn’t just fire on Twitter. He’s fire on the field right now, and he seems dead set to prove that he can do more. He broke the Dolphins’ spirit Sunday, and it’s fair to wonder how Daboll and the offense will use Lil’ Dirty in the games to come.
2. Tremaine Edmunds, like a car with no coolant, is running hot!
The Kaiju is playing great down the stretch, matching his offensive counterpoint. He played less than three quarters but led the team in tackles once again (what you want to see from your ILB). He finished with nine tackles, one and a half tackles for loss, and a sack. He’s screaming across the field and thumping runners, and he seems to be playing with a confidence right now that we may not have seen yet. He is certainly part of the reason the underrated Dolphins rushing attack could only manage 3.5 YPC on Sunday, and it’s good to see our giant monster of the middle playing his best as we enter the Wild Card round.
3. The refs … well, helped the Bills on Sunday.
OK. I know we in the Mafia are used to feeling jobbed by the zebras on Sundays. But against the Dolphins, we had a lot of calls (or non-calls) go our way. Matakevich absolutely tackled a guy during McKenzie’s punt return, and Wallace and Norman could have (and maybe should have) been called for a few more PIs during the game. What does it say about a team when the refs start to give them the calls? Is it the assumption of good play? Is it some sort of NFL conspiracy to finally make up for the MMM? Who knows? But we’ve been getting some calls lately, and … well, I’ll take it. There’s a whole lot to make up for, Mr. Goodell.
4. If Josh Allen was the killer, Antonio Williams was the undertaker.
I saw a whole lot of people on my timeline talking about playing Williams over Moss and Singletary. Let’s (as the old proverb goes) take a chill pill. Luckily, it’s now OTC! But I’m not going to take anything away from Williams either. I didn’t see how he fared in Special Teams, so I don’t know that he can take Taiwan Jones place, but Williams looked good against this surprisingly pedestrian Dolphins defense. He finished the day with 63 yards on 12 carries (5.3 YPC), and toted in two tuddies! It was nice to see from the practice squad guy. He ran hard, smashed through would-be tacklers, and had a nice showing for himself. It’s good to know he’s there, and who knows? Will he get any reps in the playoffs? Could the Bills consider a three-headed rushing attack? We shall see …
5. Tyler Bass proves that George Michael was right.
Gotta have faith, bro. Tyler Bass didn’t just rebound from a weak beginning to the season, he broke Bills’ records! With his eight extra points yesterday (Yes, I said eight.), he broke Steve Christie’s Bills scoring record of 140 set in 1998 with 141 points to end the season. Bass is kicking with no fear, and he’s got just a dab of that swag dripping from him so cold. (Allen let him borrow some of his swag cologne.) And speaking of special teams …
6. Corey Bojorquez is dropping bombs on opposing teams and haters!
Was there anything more gorgeous yesterday than Bojo’s coffin corner punt against the fish yesterday? He’s on fire. The mustachioed man finished the season with an average yards per punt of 51 yards! That’s amazing. He is the least used punter in the NFL, which helps, but he is now 4th ALL-TIME because of this season in terms of yards per punt, and hats off to the guy so many used to love to hate. McProcess has patience, and it has paid off with so many players. Bojo and Bass and playing cocky, and I like it. Maybe it’s time to start a Bojo apology form and have the haters fill it out … Steve!
7. Dean Marlowe should be given the nickname, “Next Man Up”.
Dean Marlowe is aptly named because he was solving the Dolphins offense yesterday like Humphrey Bogart’s character, Marlowe, solved crimes in The Big Sleep! No Hyde? No problem. No Poyer? Forget about it! Marlowe picked off Tua Turntheballova twice yesterday in relief duty. This guy is the epitome of a lunch pail dude, and he epitomizes what it means to be the next man up. Great job, man. Hopefully, we don’t need him in this playoff run, but if we do, I feel confident that he can ably come in and play.
8. Tyler Matakevich: tackling machine.
Despite the obvious hold during McKenzie’s return Matakevich got away with, this man is playing great. Do you know who else was a special teams ace before he got a real chance to play? Lorenzo Alexander. Tyler is smashing dudes out there. He finished the game with 40 snaps and finished second on the team in tackles with six. He also had two passes defensed and nearly reeled in a pick! I don’t know about you, but if we go against one of these rush-first teams (Baltimore or Tennessee), I wouldn’t mind seeing this tackling terminator on the field next to Tremaine “The Kaiju” Edmunds and Matt “Cosa Nostra” Milano. Would you?
9. Sean McDermott is coaching hungry but not so humble.
Humble and hungry. Humble and hungry. Humble and hungry. We hear Mr. Process repeat this mantra in every postgame speech, but is he humble? His teams have been hammering people this last quarter of the season, and when they are comfortably ahead, they have been dropping bombs down the field and showing no mercy. As he did with Belichick, McDermott met Coach Flores at midfield after the game, leaned in, and doing his best Shang Tsung impersonation, whispered, “Your soul … is mine!” Humble, Sean? I don’t know. You’re starting to be a bully … and me gusta!
10. Josh Allen makes his final MVP case.
If Josh Allen doesn’t get the MVP award this season, he should be #2 in votes behind Rodgers. Rodgers has had a great season with 51 total TDs, 4,448 total yards, and only five interceptions. That’s pretty exceptional, and I can’t fault the voters for craving cuddles and gentle neck kisses from the man from Green Bay. But Allen has finished the year in astounding fashion: 45 total TDs, 4,965 total yards, and 10 interceptions. One could make a fair argument that Allen has been more important to his team than Rodgers, as he has accounted for more of his team’s scoring, and he is coming into the playoffs hot, seemingly scoring at will. Rodgers has truly had an historic season, and he does not have the pass-catchers Allen has, but yesterday, Allen stayed in until halftime to make one last stand for his MVP credibility, and anyone using the eye test could see how easily this guy is taking over games. Congratulation to Allen for his Bills record-setting season (beating out Bledsoe for most yards and Kelly for most TDs in a season). They’re not going to give you the MVP THIS season … but remember that. Remember it well. Remember it into February.
- Kevin Harlan is hilarious. That PSA on flossing during the game was absolutely forking amazing.
- Stefon Diggs led the NFL in receiving yards and receptions. He finished with 1,535 yards on 127 catches with eight TDs to boot. Thank you very much, Minnesota.
- Does anyone else chuckle when Lee Smith is split out from the line and standing like a slot receiver? It’s amazing. You have to wonder what opposing CBs are thinking.
- Good to see no serious injuries on Sunday. There was a scare with Milano and Johnson, but both seemed fine. [Adam knocks on wood.]
- How about Dolla’ Dolla’ Bitcoin Barkley? It takes him a second to warm up, but he’s not a bad backup, and that guy can drop a deep ball down the shoot.
- Shoutout to Gabriel Davis for getting over the century mark on two long bombs from Barkley on Sunday, one of which he reeled in for a TD. Nice job, kid. But next time Allen throws you a bullet down the sideline, be sure to show some effort and come back to the ball. That INT should be on your stat sheet as well.
Thanks, y’all for reading! Happy Wild Card week, and I hope you enjoy seeing us play the Colts at 1 pm on Saturday! If you have any questions, comments, or feedback about me hurting your feeling during the Writer’s Room on the BF Tailgate Pregame show, please hit me up at @adamnannini
Be safe this week! Relish being at the stadium, and let’s go tame some horsies! And let me ask you something: Where else would you rather be than right here right now?