The Bills latest loss leaves reason for hope

Yup, the Bills blew a gift wrapped upset in usual Bills fashion, by dropping the winning touchdown pass in overtime. Victory literally slipped through the hands of the home team on Sunday.

It's the bitter pill we've become accustomed to gulping. Been there, done that ... lost in every gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, migraine-inducing way imaginable. Stevie Johnson became a lot like our 2-year-old son: the misbehaving little jerk breaks an expensive glass lamp, but a few hours later we still love him because, at the end of the day, he's an unexpected standout in a family full of underachieving siblings.

Maybe I've chugged the proverbial Kool-Aid, but I'm not too discouraged by the OT loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes, losing like Buffalo did was yet another brass-knuckled uppercut to the nose, but I believe (or, at least I hope) the setback was the latest
in a series of small, but deliberate, baby steps back to organizational legitimacy.

Before we continue to curse Johnson, second-guess everything Chan Gailey does, and continue—in the face of mounting evidence to contrary—to dismiss Ryan Fitzpatrick as a career backup, let's pause for an influx of perspective: isn't what we've seen for five weeks a much, much better product than the Keystone Kops impersonation we witnessed in September? I mean, by leaps and bounds?

I don't know whether it's Fitz's leadership. Or Gailey's game-planning and offensive chess moves. Or possible sightings of the Mothman in Orchard Park. Nor do I care. What matters is this team is fun to watch again. Face it: you were looking forward to seeing how they'd fare against this group of Steeltown bullies, weren't you? The Bills play hard, for themselves and their coach. They suddenly have a multitude of ways they can score on the opponent. A few bounces, big plays and calls that don't get blown ... and they're on a six-game win streak and (gasp), in the AFC playoff hunt.

OK, that's a major leap into insanity, I know. This Kool-Aid is pretty tasty and potent. I don't think this team is a playoff-caliber group. Nothing comes easy to the 2010 Buffalo Bills. If it did, Johnson would've caught that pass. But this collection of nobodies has been in a position to win every single game it's played since nearly stunning the host Baltimore Ravens on October 24. This, after openly wondering whether they'd go 0-16 and taking four hours on Saturdays to watch Andrew Luck play for a glimpse into our future. I'd call that significant progress.

Looking at the big picture, a November loss to an NFL powerhouse doesn't mean a whole lot. In a weird way, the fact that Buffalo pushed the Steelers to the brink of a major upset does.

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