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Sunday, December 19, 2004

Catchin' the Fever!

I'm going to write my usual post-Buffalo Bills game report today, since I'm not sure if I'll have much opportunity to post tomorrow. Today saw the Bills travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals, a team which used to have so permanent a status at the cellar of the AFC standings that I figured it would take an Act of Congress to lift them out of it. But that franchise has finally started turning it around, and of the Bills' three games remaining before today, I thought that this one -- on the road against a team in similar rebuilding position, also struggling for its very playoff existence -- posed the biggest threat. Especially after the Bills have been so hot lately; if ever they were due to suffer a let-down, this seemed to me to be the game when it would happen.

Final score: Bills 33, Bengals 17. And it wasn't even that close, since the Bengals fell behind 21-7 early in the third quarter, and didn't get their score to 17 points until very late in the fourth, when the outcome was no longer in doubt.

The Bills didn't get much offensive production today, but they didn't really need it, as their defense and special teams themselves contributed 14 points directly (by interception return and by blocked punt return, respectively). They created more turnovers, and they held a pretty respectable offensive team to a pretty low number of total yards. And they did it on the road, which seemed like an absurd thing to suggest they'd ever be able to do just two months ago. They did surrender a one-hundred yard rusher, but the big chunk of that came on a busted-play 31-yard run by Rudi Johnson late in the fourth quarter.

So the Bills opened their season 0-4, and since then have gone 8-2. That's pretty good. They're still on the outside of the playoff picture looking in (unless they get a lot of help), but I'm amazed that the Bills have now equaled the total number of wins I predicted they'd get before the season started, and the number that I decided they had no chance at all of attaining after the sixth week. It appears that even with a completely new roster since the Bills' heyday of the 1990s, they are still unmatched in their ability to circle the wagons.

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