The game ended, the defeated New England Patriots — yes, defeated – rushed off the field. The victorious Buffalo Bills attempted to keep their win as business-like as possible, celebrating in the middle of the field before also evacuating to get their inoffensive cliches in order.
Scouring the field for remaining blue jerseys, I saw Kyle Williams conducting a postgame interview and only one other Bill remaining. Fred Jackson had rushed over to the guy in charge of waiving the giant white Bills flag after touchdowns and obtained the pole, now waving it in gigantic swooshes as the crowd around him roared approval.
So this is what it feels like to be validated, the undrafted back must’ve wondered inside his elation. The crowd of fans felt the same.
— There was an awful lot of redemption even inside this single game. Donald Jones made up for a rough first half with some pivotal late catches. George Wilson was abused for a third-straight week before making an acrobatic interception of a drop-in-the-bucket attempt for Rob Gronkowski.
— The run defense was pretty darn good as well despite some real boners from Nick Barnett. Not his best game, but he’s 1-0 versus New England and I’ll take it.
— Shawne Merriman was near invisible and was also missing from the sideline for a good portion of the game.
— Stevie Johnson is a big-game player. When was the last time a Bills wide-out had a touchdown in each of the first three games of a season? We’ve gotta be at Moulds or even Reed/Lofton. I emailed the Bills. Same question for tight ends and Scott Chandler.
— This 3-0 start feels worlds different than the Trent Edwards/special teams/fake FG 3-0 start of a few years back, and it felt that way even before this win over New England. Thomas Chandler Gailey deserves a lot of credit for the mindset of this team and the locker room. It may have been unpopular, but a lot of the guys who are no longer in red, white and blue are players who quit on a poor season last year. Sure, it’s understandable, but it’s not to be desired. The way this schedule is fleshing out, there is reason to believe the playoffs are within reach.
— David Nelson is a smooth operator. Very good route-running (I think, I’m no expert) but also a dare-I-say graceful stride.
— Tom Brady threw a ball off his lineman’s head. This is not typical. The Patriots signal caller, however, was phenomenal in spurts. It seemed every Patriot he targeted in the first half was wide-open. The Bills have let quarterbacks go wild two weeks in-a-row, despite the four INTs this week. Lack of pass rush versus that very good New England line is an area of concern.
— Buffalo did a great job of corralling two of New England’s three “who is that guy?” running backs, but Stevan Ridley did manage to give the Bills fits late.
— Fitzmagic (SONG) bounced back from a bad pick and a Donald Jones tip-pick (catch it, DJ) to maintain an even keel and complete a whole bunch of passes. He was bailed out by the refs on the pass interference in the end zone call (Really? It was the PATS who got jobbed by the officials?!? Awesome!), but overall took his lumps and played like a man who expected to win. He’s carrying himself less like an “Aw, shucks, I’m successful” QB and more like a “I’m the starter and I’m ready” guy.
— Feel excited. The Bills are for real.
Stat line I liked…
Fred Jackson, 12 carries, 74 yards, TD; five catches, 87 yards.
– He’s granite. I’ll admit that I was wrong about him; I didn’t think he had the skill to be an every-down back. He makes up for whatever he’s missing in speed with whatever’s hiding in that chip on his shoulder. Attaboy, No. 22.
Stat line I didn’t like…
Wes Welker, 16 catches, 217 yards, 2 TDs
– His high-motor was running hot and the Bills could do nothing to cool him off.
Rian Lindell 4-or-4 XP, 2-for-2 FG, GWFG
— He’s been around for a lot of the misery, and he was true.
Folks are going to tell you that New England did not have a good day and that you can’t count on Tom Brady to throw four picks every week — and they are right — but don’t let it downgrade your high. The Bills made plenty of mistakes themselves even after digging a 21-point hole against a team they hadn’t beaten in 15 tries. Buffalo was better.
I’m not calling the Bills unbeatable, but I’m certainly not picking them to lose to the Bengals. I bet they come back to Earth a bit, though. Buffalo 20, Cincinnati 13.
— I’ll add more to this after night church, but I gotta run.