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Performance and No Excuses from Buffalo Bills

Photo from www.opptrends.com.

Photo from www.opptrends.com.

Getting to .500 has never felt better. An ostensibly unremarkable NFL achievement wasn’t an unexceptional battle victory like blasting a Stormtrooper: Darth Vader’s been spun out into deep space. The hero’s arc is enjoyable because it’s so improbable.

It wasn’t too long ago that Buffalo Bills fans were wondering if the Pegulas added Tom Coughlin as a contact, not to mention if an old-school curmudgeon like him would even own a cellphone. But Rex Ryan wasn’t kidding when he said he would change. Unexpected modesty is quite the blessing.

The sweetest wins are expected by exactly no one. This club can only try to reverse a decade and a half of ineptitude against the division’s king one game at a time. Finally engineering all the breaks was a fantastic start. Set a personal goal to be no more than half as insufferable as Patriots fans when your team wins.

The specter haunting the game shouldn’t scare anyone. Unlike New England’s Super Bowl wins, there’s no asterisk attached to beating the Patriots while Tom Brady frowns in his den. Any delightfully frowny New England fan claiming the loss is somehow tainted because their third choice for quarterback couldn’t lead them to points should note the Devil’s favorite player was being punished.

He was unavailable for good reason. Like Julian Edelman’s non-touchdown to open the game, there are repercussions for committing penalties. If their starter wanted to be there, he should have avoided cheating. Their frustration should be directed at Mister Gisele for misbehaving, even if they’re only able to amorally muster disappointment that he was caught.

Coping with whoever is not there is an omnipresent factor. It only seems like devastating injuries to core players are worse for the Bills because they’ve been poor at compensating. They finally looked like they could improvise with greatness sidelined.

The jazzy interlude in Sammy Watkins’s absence proved they can overcome the normal personnel challenges of a brutal sport. Getting by without the services of a supernatural talent feels like Paul McCartney leaving Wings. But they didn’t let Sammy’s screw screw them over. Treat the last name you want on injured reserve as a chance to remember Robert Woods exists and is really good at catching footballs himself.

Photo of WR Robert Woods from bills.buffalonews.com.

Photo of WR Robert Woods from bills.buffalonews.com.

The Bills now face a team whose fans have had less to cheer about since the mid-’90s, even if only by default. There worse things than having a bad club, namely not having one at all. The last season in Los Angeles was the first Fox broadcasted games, which is a long time to go without complaining about play. Fans think they wouldn’t miss the chance to be disappointed, but the reality is surprising.

A West Coast business trip takes Buffalo from an all-too-familiar opponent to a stranger.  The era of irregular scheduling means they’ve only faced the transient franchise 11 times.  The Bills and Rams played on six measly occasions while the latter were based in California, with exactly one game against them at the Coliseum.

If you’re upset about memories of the Rams winning on December 15, 1974, you can probably let it go.

Treat playing in a stadium older than New Era Field as an adventure. Crossing the nation should be seen as a chance to impose their will in a different kind of hostile environment than Foxborough. Instead of carping about having to eat dinner later, this franchise can make this winning streak a trend by creating a third example. Firing a coordinator may not have been the reactionary last gasp of a fading coach.

Oct 2, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan shake hands after the game at Gillette Stadium. The Bills defeated the Patriots 16-0. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 2, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan shake hands after the game at Gillette Stadium. The Bills defeated the Patriots 16-0. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports.

The Bills don’t know what to expect in Los Angeles. The same can be said for this season. In August, you may have believed they’d start 1-1 in the division, but you’d never accept how it’d happen. A letdown against the Jets before dominating the Patriots was the fool’s bet. So, that’s why they play the games.

An upset isn’t enough.  Instead of getting fat and happy like Buster Douglas, the aftermath of an improbable triumph is a time to face new challenges. The first meaningful win in New England since Doug Flutie connected with Jay Riemersma has to be treated as a beginning, not a culmination.

Buffalo can’t act like beating their bête noire was their own personal playoffs. Continuing to spread the ball among non-Sammies will help them maintain momentum on a trip to a different planet.


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Anthony Bialy

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy lives in New York City and acts like he's still in Buffalo. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He knows every bodega in Manhattan which sells Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.

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