So close, yet so far... The Buffalo Bills were minutes away from a week 1 victory and then Brady and the Pats became Brady and the Pats and the Bills became the Bills. For what it’s worth, neither team played good football. Turnovers and penalties were the theme of the day for the Bills, who showed why being good and being young in the NFL are not as harmonious of a duo as last year’s NFL tried to make it seem.
Stevie dropped a crucial third-down pass after the Bills decided to sling the ball around the field, with a rookie at QB & a one-point lead over one of your most hated rivals in the 4th quarter… I get Marrone’s philosophy and I’m all for taking risks, but there’s a difference between playing on the edge and making smart football decisions. Not utilizing Fred and CJ in that spot was infuriating, frustrating and predictable all rolled into one. This is a new team, a new coaching staff with a renewed sense of hope, but in the end it was the same old Buffalo Bills.
One of the biggest gripes that people seemed to have with Chan Gailey over the years, was his innate sense of calling plays that had no business being called. 3rd and 1? Why not drop back and throw it 20-yards down field. Today was like one of those bad dreams where you can’t stop yourself from falling. It was as though every single Bills fans could see the game unraveling in front of their own eyes. We all knew it was coming; yet no one could stop it. The same defense that kept the Bills in the game all day long just couldn’t manufacture one final stop. You give Tom Brady enough chances and he WILL make you pay, there’s no doubt about it.
Losing sucks, but what sucks even more is the fact that this fan base feels as though we need to overcompensate. Were there bright spots throughout the game that show a promising future for this team? Sure, but who cares, we still lost. As a coping mechanism it’s a natural response to look for good when the final result is bad. “The team will learn from this and be better for it in the long run!” Does anyone REALLY believe we’re better off because we lost? No. Just something we say to make ourselves feel better. “This defense showed it could hang with Brady and the big boys!” Did they, or did they show they could cause turnovers against a passing attack that was without it’s top 3 receiving weapons from last year?
I’m not trying to be pessimistic and the bearer of bad news, but as Brady and Co. showed, good teams find a way to win and bad teams make excuses. At the end of the day the Patriots are 1-0 and the Bills are 0-1, doesn’t matter how or why, they just are. If you think I’m being stonehearted lets think about it from the players perspective. I can guarantee you not one player was jumping around the locker room celebrating EJ’s first TD pass following the end of the game, because as happy as you are for the guy in the moment, this was a game that could have easily been won. As fans we think because this is an emotional game that made for movie storylines affect players way more than they do. The simple fact is that this isn’t little league and giving it your all isn’t what matters, what matters is winning.
The focus now turns to getting back to .500 against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. I would put money on the fact the Marrone will have a few choice words for his team in practice this week, about taking an absurd amount of dumb penalties vs. New England. Two things you cannot do if you want to win in this league are turn the ball over and commit penalties and the Bills were the ideal case study for that today. I’m all for the rah-rah “let’s go get them next week” approach as long as we actually go out there and get them next week. The more realistic roadmap indicates a lot more losses this season with a lot more turnovers and a lot more dumb penalties. This team is young, inexperienced and doesn’t yet know how to win. While many of us expected this to be a learning year that doesn’t mean we need to baby the team along the way. 23-21 or 23-0 a loss is a loss is a loss. There are no consolation prizes in football and the sooner we accept that, the better off we’ll be.
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