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I’ve been a Bills fan for 62 years. This year I’ve noticed that, for the first time in my life as a fan, the losses don’t bother me much more than watching say, the Broncos lose. My family and friends offer condolences, but I don’t need them. It’s just a football game. It wasn’t always that way – I used to agonize over each of the 492 losses.
I’m not sure exactly when, or how, this happened, but it happened. I can watch the Bills fail at the end of the game against the Titans, I can watch them fail again against the Patriots, but I don’t get upset. (Okay, when they lose to Jacksonville, that’s different.)
So, if you’re looking for angry postgame ravings about who should be cut and who should be fired and how Diggs should have gotten the interference call, you’ll be disappointed here. The Bills lost in overtime to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a nationally televised game Sunday afternoon. It was disappointing, but it was just a loss.
Fans see the Patriots’ running game gash the Bills’ defense, and they want McDermott on the next stage out of town. They see the Buccaneers annihilate the Bills in the first half, and they want the offense torn down and rebuilt.
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What did I see? I saw the Bills play two of the best teams in the league even, six days apart. They played them even. Against the Patriots, they failed to get a touchdown in the red zone at the end of the game, and they lost. Against the Bucs, the reigning Super Bowl champions with a good shot at repeating, the Bills got only a field goal and a tie in the red zone at the end of the game, and they lost in overtime. If they’d made two plays, they would have had two wins.
The Bills went to the AFC Championship game last season. They were a good team. This was the season Bills fans expected them to take the next step. They haven’t. The Bills still are a good team, but they haven’t figured out how to win games. They looked better in 2020 than they have so far in 2021, but they really aren’t much different. Defense is better but still has letdowns, offense isn’t as good and still can’t run the ball. The little things that went right last season aren’t going right this season, and the Bills are losing some close games that they didn’t lose last season.
Still, the Bills are a good team. They held the Bucs under their league-leading points per game average. They limited their long-time, all-world nemesis, Tom Brady, to one field goal-drive in the second half, and one first down in all of his other second-half drives. The stats for the game were practically dead-even. The Bills just didn’t win.
© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Things I saw:
1. Josh Allen is still my quarterback. I wanted to be on the sidelines, shaking him, screaming at him, after he threw that God-awful interception. My goodness! Make a great escape like that, still under pressure, THROW IT AWAY! Turns out, the interception cost the Bills nothing, and the rest of the game, Allen was borderline brilliant. Great throws, powerful runs. The guy’s a great player, has some things to learn, and he’ll keep learning them.
2. Brian Daboll showed off some offensive creativity against the Bucs, finally. Devin Singletary got some running room. There were some clever routes to Dawson Knox. Cole Beasley returned to a meaningful role in the passing game.
3. Is patience paying off with Harrison Phillips? The guy has become a presence in the middle of the defensive line.
4. Tremaine Edmunds seemed confused on the game-winning touchdown. Was his drop too shallow? Or was it more? Did he fail to understand that Perriman was his man coming across the middle? Something was wrong, and it was on Edmunds. And give the Bucs credit for the play design. Every other Bills defender had run away from the play, leaving Edmunds on an island or, rather, five yards off the island, drowning.
5. As I suspected, the game didn’t turn on what Dane Jackson did or did not do. This is a team defense, and Jackson’s a team player. The Bills could have won with Jackson. That’s not to say Tre’Davious White might not have changed things – a play here or there, and who knows?
6. Seems like Gabriel Davis needs a bigger role in this offense. He’s a poor-man’s Mike Evans, and Mike Evans is a baller.
7. The fake punt seemed to have no chance whatsoever. Any one of three defenders might have made the tackle. That’s a lousy fake punt. Either the Xs and Os were simply wrong, or the Bills didn’t have players on the field who could execute them. Either way, the coaches should have known they were running a play that wasn’t likely to succeed. The Bills would have had a better chance just going for it with their regular offense. Still, the play didn’t cost the Bills.
The 2021 Bills have been disappointing so far. They clearly haven’t taken the next step, at least not yet, and it feels like a big step. There are four games to be played, and three wins should get them into the playoffs. The playoffs is where next steps are truly important.
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