If you could use two words to describe this year’s Buffalo Bills season thus far I would say: cardiac arrest. Why? It’s because the games have been so close and so exciting all the way to the end. When you think the opponents are going to run away from the Bills something happens that brings them right back. So far this year the Bills have been in one score games for all but one (Cleveland). It’s brought fans a dramatic two-minute drill victory, a dramatic game clinching interception and three types of heartache.
The good thing is that the Bills are 2-3 this year in one score games. They’ve already matched their win total from last year (2-4 in 2012), and the season is not quite half way over. But these close games reveal that the Bills are still learning how to win the close one and that the talent disparity is not as great as it was last year or before.
Considering that in 16 games in 2012 only six of those games were within one score, and the Bills only won two of those. That means the other four wins and six losses were by two scores or greater. 2012 as a whole was an up and down year until the last half when the Bills finished on a 3-6 stretch that included a three game losing streak. They were a bi polar team unable to sustain from week to week.
Turn the page to this year and the Bills have been in every game. Even the one loss to Cleveland that was greater than one score and you’ll see the Bills were trying to rally to take a lead late in the fourth quarter. It was an interception returned for a touchdown that sealed the victory for the Browns and the scoring margin.
Though the games are gut wrenching to watch, it shows that the team is being more consistent and has better coaching. They have better game plans to neutralize opponents, they are more consistent in their overall play, which allows for the Bills to be in a position to win late, and they are better at managing the clock to ice victories or buy more time. This all adds up to a more competitive team and a bright outlook.
In order for teams to win not only in the regular season, but the playoffs, they need to learn how to win the close games consistently. Playoff games are tight contests that are typically determined on two or three impact plays.
Right now the Bills are learning how to create those game changing plays, as well as overcoming them. It builds a more mentally tough team and one where a player upgrade here or there moves an average 6-10 or 7-9 team to 11-5 or 12-4 and a playoff berth. Experience matters, and as the talent level increases these lessons will progress the Bills toward not just a playoff appearance, but quite possibly into a playoff regular or Super Bowl contender.
If the Bills finish the season at or around .500 in one score games and continue to decrease their blowout losses from the six last year to two, then you’re talking about a competitive team that’s on the verge of turning into a winner. It’s what the Patriots have done for the past 12 years. Beat weak teams and win the close ones.
But if the Bills could win a couple this season by a big spread I’m sure it would make the fans feel a lot better, as well as help the heart attack crowd at the Buffalo General Hospital decrease in numbers every Sunday.