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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Oh-and-one

Normally I'd write my postmortem on a Bills game on the following Monday, but I'm going to do so now while the game's really fresh on my mind. The Bills lost to the New England Stupid Patriots, 19-17, but the game was just as tight as that score indicates, and for everyone who has been predicting a disastrous year for the Bills, I have to draw a great deal of hope for this team's future.

Now, given the Godless MSM's adoration for All Things Brady, I'm sure the coverage of this game will focus on how the StuPats mounted a courageous comeback and how they showed amazing poise and how they overcame adversity in their own park and blah blah blah, as opposed to the team in disarray going on the road to the reigning dynasty's house, very nearly beating them, and making them look frankly ordinary in the process.

The Bills are still a losing team. Losing teams have chances to win and fail to convert. That's what the Bills did. But there are still distinctions to be made there: teams that are really downright bad just flail about and never look competent at all, but losing teams that have some pride, work hard, and are really trying to improve at least create a few chances along the way. I've been listening to a bit of the talk radio reaction over the past few minutes, and it's all the same old "They had their chances and they blew it!" stuff. But there's the rub: the Bills made their own chances today, in a way that they never really did last year.

The Bills lost this game because they weren't good enough to overcome a few dumb mistakes (Robert Royal's block in the back was a killer) and, in one extremely important play, simply weren't physical enough to make the smashmouth stuff happen. Today, they were nearly good enough to play with New England in New England. Who thought that would be the case yesterday? Last week? Last spring? At the end of last season? Who would have predicted JP Losman completing sixty-five percent of his passes in a season-opening road game against the StuPats, with no interceptions, several big third-down conversions after escaping pressure, and showing genuine awareness of the field most of the time?

In my NFL predictions post, I noted that I expected the Bills to lose more often than not this year, but I also noted that I hoped that their losses would be of a type where the teams that beat them come away knowing that they very well could have lost, and that they had to play a full game in order to win. That's what the Bills gave today. So even though they lost, call me optimistic for the team in the long term.

And for all the New England lovers out there, just think: they've got a lot of better teams than the Bills ahead of them. It wasn't Losman who completed under fifty percent of his passes today; that was the great Tom Brady, against about as green adn inexperienced a defense as he's likely to face. And when's the last time anyone heard the StuPats getting booed by the hometown faithful, as they were at halftime today?

Pick on the Bills while you can, NFL, because a few more games like today's might just indicate that their days in the darkness may be numbered.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

OK. While I'm a Giants fan (been watching since I was 10), I can get behind the ONLY NEW YORK STATE team.

Oh, the word verification this time was uglaa, which sounds a bit like the game you described.