Did you think the Bills were really going to win on Sunday? Did you really think they would pull a huge upset and get their first win? Did you think you would finally have a good Monday and stop hearing about how the Bills are the absolute bottom of the NFL barrel? Yeah, me neither…
Gone are the days when the Bills won games they had no business even being in. Gone are last second game-winning drives. A culture of losing has been cultivated in Buffalo, and it has grown strong.
Losing teams somehow find a way to lose, and no team serves as a better example that the Bills. Admittedly the past decade has made me bitter and cynical as a fan, but I’d guess there are countless others like me. As I watched the Bills go up on Baltimore by 14 points all I could think about was what painful way the team would find to come home losers.
Ah yes, soul-crushing turnovers and questionable calls by officials – things that have plagued the Bills for years. Nothing turns the momentum and the score as quickly as a turnover, and in the span of about 14 minutes the Bills turned the ball over twice and gave up 3 unanswered touchdowns. For the game the Bills were -2 on the turnover ratio, recovering 2 fumbles but yielding 2 fumbles and 2 interceptions.
It’s amazing how quickly things go from excited and happy to dark and gloomy when you follow the Bills. Nothing is more illustrative of this than when the Bills clearly intercepted a Joe Flacco touchdown pass in the endzone – the only problem was that it somehow wasn’t an interception. In true “it only happens to the Bills” fashion, Reggie Corner caught the ball well within the endzone but landed on the receiver rather than the turf and never got his feet or another body part down before going out of bounds – incomplete pass. Through the years I think the Bills have found every last bizarre way to not get a turnover and this was no exception – according to the rules it was the right call, but in your gut you know it should have been Bills ball. Seriously, does any of this stuff ever happen to teams other than the Bills?
While I am willing to say that the officials got the interception call right, I am more than willing to complain that they completely blew the fumble call on Shawn Nelson in overtime. Nelson caught the ball and was mobbed by Ravens. Bills also converged on Nelson and a scrum ensued. When it was all over Ray Lewis had stripped the Ball and the officials ruled a fumble with Baltimore recovering. What the officials clearly missed was that Nelson’s forward progress had been stopped well before the ball was stripped and that should have been the end of the play. The refs sat on their whistles as Nelson was literally held in the air by a group of Ravens – his feet in the air reminding me of the time I was in the first 5 rows at a 1988 Metallica show when the crowd started getting ugly and pushing. The point is that Nelson wasn’t even capable of forward motion, but because there was no whistle the fumble was allowed to happen and the Bills went down to defeat.
As much as the Bills find ways to lose, winning teams somehow find ways to win. Later in the afternoon the Patriots escaped with a victory in San Diego when an ill-timed false start penalty pushed a game-tying field goal just out of range. All I could do is watch and shake my head. In the same situation the Bills could have come up with dozens of bizarre and painful ways to lose in San Diego and somehow New England found yet another way to steal a win.
I’m not necessarily blaming the Bills for the loss on Sunday, I’m just trying to show that there seems to be some sort of karma in the NFL – the Patriots cup runneth over with good karma and the Bills seem to have none. I think it’s certainly linked to attitude and culture – New England has a culture of winning and Buffalo has a culture of losing – both seem to be self-perpetuating.
I know plenty of Bills fans are actually somewhat pleased with Sunday’s game. Indeed, there are positive takeaways from the game – a Bills quarterback who threw for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns, two 100+ yard receivers, putting up 34 points against one of the NFL’s most heralded defenses and a team that showed it wasn’t ready to quit. These are encouraging, but as Rhett Butler famously proclaimed, I don’t give a damn. Bottom line is that the Bills are 0-6, and that’s really all that matters. Whether they lose a close game or a blowout, a loss is a loss and I’m too tired of losing to care enough about sorting things out between “good losses” and “bad losses” – somebody wake me when we start winning games.
I’d like to say I’m satisfied with the Bills playing pretty well and showing some signs of life. I’d like to say that the game had me on the edge of my seat wondering how it was going to end. I’d like to say I think the Bills will start winning games soon. The truth of the matter is that I can’t. The Bills are experts at losing and by now I’m an expert of watching it happen.