The Buffalo Bills Outsider: A Fluke and a Moment of Clarity

Sometimes sporting events end in flukes. One team has seemingly done enough to defeat the opponent when all of a sudden the other team hits a half-court shot or a routine ground ball goes through the shortstop’s legs. The Bills played far from a perfect game. After taking control of the game in the 3rd quarter, the Buffalo began to unravel. Terrible turnovers, a shanked punt, and several inexplicable penalties helped the Cardinals go on a 17-0 run. But as he’s done so many times before, Josh Allen shook off the mistakes and led his team down the field when it counted. Buffalo’s final drive ended with an absolute picture-perfect, frozen rope from Allen to Stefon Diggs. There aren’t many people on the planet capable of making that throw. 

What happened next was one of sports’ great flukes: the Hail Mary. Inexplicable joy for one team, heartbreak for the other. If you’re looking for someone to be angry at or second-guessing how the Bills played that final play, just stop. It was a prayer. Three Buffalo defenders were in position, but DeAndre Hopkins just went up and made an unbelievable play. Ninety-nine time out of a hundred, that ball falls harmlessly to the turf. Sometimes, you just gotta tip your cap. 

I’ve been there before. In fact, I’ve witnessed it in person. The year was 2015, and my Detroit Lions were hosting the hated Green Bay Packers in a Thursday Night game. With five minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Lions held a 20-0 lead and were in complete control. With under four minutes left in regulation, the lead was still 23-14. Green Bay scored a TD, but the Lions were able to milk most of the clock, punting the ball back to Green Bay with 24 seconds left. From their own 21 yard line, Aaron Rodgers fired two incomplete passes leaving only six seconds on the clock, 79 yards away from the end zone. The Packers tried a bunch of laterals that went nowhere. The ball ended up back in Rodgers’ hands, and he was tackled to end the game, except for that little piece of yellow cloth on the field. The Lions were called for a bogus facemask penalty (Rodgers’ shoulder was grabbed, not his facemask), and the referees placed the ball at the 39-yard line with time for one untimed down. Here’s what happened next:

It’s been five years, and I’d be lying if I said I was over it. I’ll probably never be over it. It sucks to lose on a fluke.

Three Unbiased Opinions

1) Josh Allen is Clutch

No matter what mistakes Allen makes along the way, when you have two minutes left on the clock and need a score, there aren’t many quarterbacks in the league right now that you’d rather have. On the final offensive drive, he hit several big throws and made some plays with his legs. The touchdown throw to Diggs was a thing of beauty. To make that throw in that situation was huge. This kid has ice water in his veins. Yes, he needs to continue to grow. There were two turnovers yesterday and a couple of times where he just tossed the ball up to avoid a sack and was fortunate it didn’t result in an INT. But there’s no denying the unbelievable growth this young man has shown since he entered the league. Despite some erratic play at times, the dude is a stone-cold killer in the clutch. 

2) I Loved the Play Calling…About Half the Time.

I may be an outsider, but I’ve certainly picked up on the fact that Brian Daboll is always a source of controversy and discussion for Bills fans. Daboll’s best moments are really good. The reverse pass back to Josh Allen was reminiscent of last year’s playoff game. The WR screen to John Brown has been used a couple of times this year in the face of a heavy rush. He does a good job of calling plays that get his best playmakers involved. However, there are some things that leave me scratching my head. First, you have to run the ball. Even if your team isn’t great at it, it keeps the defense honest and will only help your passing game. The reason the Bills have been more successful in the first halves of games is that in the second half, teams are just teeing off on the passing game. With Singletary, Moss, Josh Allen, and some jet sweeps (Where have those gone?), you should be able to move the ball on the ground enough to keep the defense honest.

I have one other gripe from yesterday’s play calling. I despise when coordinators waste great play calls. Early in the 4th quarter, the Bills spent a drive tripping over their own dicks. They got themselves backed up into a 3rd and 33. You know you’re going to get soft coverage from Arizona, so just pitch the ball over the middle, pick up 15 yards, and punt. Instead, Daboll calls a play that brings Diggs in jet motion for a fake handoff, Allen rolls slightly the opposite way before turning and firing back to Diggs. He now has a convoy of OL in front of him and he picks up a huge chunk of yardage, though still short of the first down. It was a beautiful play design. Why exactly are you calling that on 3rd and 33? This play should have been used earlier in the second half on a play where you’re anticipating a blitz (which, from Arizona, was quite often). If you catch the Cardinals in a blitz on that play, it’s a huge play and maybe a long TD. Instead, you call it against a prevent defense on 3rd and 33? Come on, Brian. 

3) I Was Wrong on Tyler Bass

I blasted the Bills for using a draft pick on Bass. After Week 1, I declared the kid a bust and said they should cut him before he costs them a game. After today, I can admit I was wrong. Three FGs of better than 54 yards? Bass was money, and he was as important as any other player on the field. Bass is proving to be a weapon. Anyone with three 50+ yard field goals in one half deserves a nickname. I’m open to suggestions but here are a few to get the discussion rolling: 

  • Tee Bass (fellow BF Adam Nannini’s preferred choice)
  • Tyler “Big Balls” Bass
  • Tyler “I Caught You a Delicious” Bass
  • Tyler “Let’s Go Kick Some” Bass
  • TB2
  • Tyler “Taking Names and Kicking” Bass

Feel free to share your suggestions. But priority number one during the bye week should be securing a proper nickname for this young fella. 

One Last Thing…

Last week, I was struggling with my relationship status concerning the Bills. Yesterday was a moment of clarity. I was certainly rooting for the Bills to win, and I was psyched when Josh Allen hit Diggs for the go-ahead touchdown. But when Hopkins caught that ball, it was not the same crushing feeling I felt five years ago in Ford Field. A true fan would be heartbroken over such a devastating loss. I was not. The hard fact is the Lions are my team, and sports relationships are like a marriage. Sure, it’s an unhappy one at times with plenty of infidelities (Don’t hold my Tom Brady love against me!). But for better or worse, they’re my team…and it’s usually for worse.

 But the Bills make a pretty nice mistress.

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