Memories of Pats torment make Bills' win more enjoyable
"Oh, how sweet it is," once uttered silver screen legend Jackie Gleason, in the haze of alcohol's soft middle age. Mr. Gleason, from your lips to Buffalo Bills fans' ears. How sweet, indeed.
I keep thinking Sunday's stunning 34-31 triumph over the New England Patriots is a fanciful dream, that at any moment I'll be pushed from my chair, and from my slumber, into a full bathtub for the "kick."
Who expected this? Certainly not me, and I owe the Bills an apology for all of my uninformed vitriol and scathing criticism. I take solace only in that I wasn't alone in my skepticism. Few expected a .500 record; even fewer a playoff berth. No one would've predicted the dubious losing streak (20 of the last 22 contests, and 15 straight) to end.
While it would be fun to look forward to a possible playoff spot—OK, how about meaningful games in December?—we can enjoy the moment even more by looking back on some of our near-decade worth of misery, suffering and despair at the hands of these villains and the dreaded Hoodie. (I swear, this will be cathartic ... you'll see):
• December 27, 2003—Patriots 31, Bills 0: On a cold, choppy day in Foxborough, Tom Brady and his crew slowly, surely dismantled a Buffalo team clearly running for the bus. In just under five months, the jubilation of a 2-0 start, including a 31-0 drubbing of New England on opening day, gave way to the merciful conclusion of a lost season. It was Gregg Williams' last game with Buffalo. It probably should've been Drew Bledsoe's last, too.
• October 30, 2005—Patriots 21, Bills 16: The Kelly Holcomb-led Bills (yeah, that happened) were so close to a win you could taste it on a brilliant Sunday night in which we poised for celebration. But, as we know, it wasn't meant to be. This was an era where Mike Mularkey's troops found ever-so creative ways to lose, and this night was no different as a seemingly commanding lead evaporated in the final ten minutes. It made Bills fans want to punch a priest (OK, well maybe it was just me, and luckily there were no priests within striking distance).
• September 10, 2006—Patriots 19, Bills 17: It would've been a nice surprise to knock off the Pats at home on Opening Day, and the J. P. Losman-led (!) Bills were actually well on their way. On the very first play from scrimmage, Takeo Spikes throttled Brady as London Fletcher scooped the loose ball and ran in for a touchdown. After being booed off the field at halftime, Brady and his troops awakened and Buffalo, true to form, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Does anyone remember Dick Jauron's decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the Pats' 3-yard line? How about Willis McGahee forgetting what down it was the play before? Ecch.
• November 18, 2007/ Patriots 56, Bills 10: I had a chance to score tickets for last Sunday's win but passed on them. Yet for this absolute turkey, I had seats at midfield. Brady and Randy Moss played catch and dealt the Bills one of their worst losses ever at home; it was like watching the varsity play the modified team. This was the worst one of all, being a national Sunday night
broadcast. New England outscored Buffalo that season 94-17. Limping away from Ralph Wilson Stadium that night (just after halftime), a victory over our tormentors seemed further away than ever. A low point? You bet. Rock bottom? Not yet.
• September 14, 2009/Patriots 25, Bills 24: A 24-13 with 5:32 left should be insurmountable. But a lengthy Pats touchdown drive was just a primer for Leodis McKelvin's fumble on the ensuing kickoff. It was the kind of loss—once again on a national TV broadcast—that was worthy of projectile vomiting. (Just me again, eh?)
There, there! Don't you feel even better now? I'll feel great if the team can move to 4-0 over Cincinnati next week. If this Bills team is truly for real, they ought to beat the teams they ought to beat. Count the Bengals among them.