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Commentators make Bills' return to 'Fright World' almost enjoyable

I may be one of five Western New Yorkers who thinks New England quarterback Tom Brady got a raw deal from Deflategate.

My unusual position was tested at a trivia fundraising event months ago when I had a decent chance to win a game in which people were eliminated by their answers to questions like the age of celebrities and other such nonsense.

But then all the remaining players in the game who believed Brady got a raw deal were told to step forward. I was the only one who did, which led to my elimination along with some boos. OK, some people laughed, too.

I only bring this up to explain why I was willing to be pelted by rain and endured the cold in the New Era Field stands Sunday along with my younger son rather than in front of my TV set to watch the Pats defeat the Buffalo Bills, 41-25.

You don’t miss the opportunity to see arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history in person. Even in the rain. Even if I had to watch the game over again on my DVR to assess the performance of CBS play-by-play man Ian Eagle, analyst Dan Fouts and sideline reporter Evan Washburn.

OK, I had seen enough at New Era by halftime. I left.

It wasn’t because I was uncomfortable watching the Bills secondary getting embarrassed. I was uncomfortable because my clothes were drenched and that made me chilled to the bone.

I joined Eagle and Fouts in progress in the third quarter, finished the game and then re-watched the interminable first half. It lasted 98 minutes, but in the rain it seemed as long as the Bills 16-year playoff drought.

CBS’ second announcing team has a nice chemistry together and doesn’t take everything too seriously.

Washburn was kept busier than most sideline reporters by all the Bills injuries, which, along with all the penalties, made the game so long.

Eagle has a good enthusiasm level, put things in perspective and added some insight normally given by analysts. Fouts misidentified some players but was quick to see things like penalties, key blocks, questionable officiating calls and Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor's inaccuracy passing.

He also had the answer to one 56-year-old football trivia question that I hope to see at any future trivia fundraiser I attend.

You’ll find that answer in my weekly highs and lows of the Bills telecast.

Ratings Time: The game had a 40.4 rating on WIVB-TV, the local CBS affiliate, which was lower than a couple of other games this season.

Bad Omen: Eagle noted that the Patriots won the coin toss, breaking a 10-game winning streak for the Bills.

Umbrella Time: As Washburn gave his pregame report before the start of the game in the rain, Eagle advised: “Try to get Evan a deal on an umbrella. It is wet in Western New York.” It is hard to see why Washburn should be allowed an umbrella when fans in the stands can’t have one.

Radio Report: On my car ride home, I heard Bills radio analyst Mark Kelso say the Bills needed to hold the Pats to three points in the second half to have a chance to come back from a 24-10 halftime deficit and win. A minute later, the Pats scored a touchdown to go up by 31-10, validating our decision to exit.

Mistaken Identity: Fouts thought Bills guard John Miller was Richie Incognito in one replay and confused Bills safety Corey Graham with a much bigger Shaq Lawson. I’m assuming that was because he misread the uniform numbers on Graham (20) and Lawson (90).

Fright World: In one of the segments that attempt to humanize players, CBS showed Bills rookies taking a group of young children for a Halloween adventure to a local haunt called “Fright World.” Bills fans have been in fright world for 16 years.

That’s Incredible! In the stands, I couldn’t believe referee John Parry didn’t call unnecessary roughness on the Pats’ Dont’a Hightower after Taylor was tackled several steps out of bounds near the New England goal line in the first quarter.  So I was glad to hear Fouts agreed when I watched the first half over. “That’s incredible that Hightower does not get a flag,” said Fouts. When the Bills’ Nickell Robey-Coleman was given a 15-yard penalty for a late hit against the Pats’ Danny Amendola in the third quarter, Fouts noted it was similar to the Hightower hit that wasn’t penalized.

Tough Hit: Fouts hit Bills back Reggie Bush for failing to catch a hard pass by Taylor for a touchdown. “It was high and hard but it still should have been caught,” said Fouts. All quarterbacks think everything should be caught.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Eagle told viewers that Brady has respect for Bills Coach Rex Ryan and his brother Rob as he demolished their defense.

A Mere Mortal: That was Eagle’s assessment of Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski after he was tackled for a loss by three Bills after catching a short pass. “Gronk looks like a mere mortal,” said Eagle. “That doesn’t happen often.”

Two Thumbs Up: After a Bills receiver couldn’t make a sideline catch, Fouts noted:  “You want to have your little fingers together, not your thumbs together.” I don’t know exactly what he meant, but it sounded interesting.

Weather Report: “It is wet in Orchard Park if you haven’t got the message,” said Eagle late in the first quarter. I got the message in person.

Unhappy Gilmore: After ex-Bill Chris Hogan flexed his muscles after catching a 53-yard touchdown pass from Brady -- that was even more impressive in person -- after beating Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Fouts asked: “How happy is Chris Hogan?” Gilmore was unhappy because he got beat after reportedly missing the coverage call and mistakenly thinking he had safety help deep.

Back in Western New York, Part 1: Eagle punctuated Hogan’s touchdown by saying: “Chris Hogan, back in Western New York with a bang.”

Come Back in January: When the rain stopped in the second quarter, Eagle said: “Some wacky weather here in Erie County.”

No Offense Taken: “When Jerome Felton is your leading pass receiver,” said Fouts in the second quarter, “no offense to Jerome, your offense is in trouble.”

Eagle Eyed: As Bills kicker Dan Carpenter lined up for a 49-yard field goal attempt with about 30 seconds left in the first half, Eagle warned: “If he misses, there will be good field position for New England.” Carpenter missed and Brady proceeded to drive the Pats for a field goal that gave New England a 24-10 halftime lead.

The Turning Point? When Bills punter Colton Schmidt ran for 16-yards and a first down after dropping a snap in the third quarter with Buffalo trailing by three touchdowns, Fouts said: “This could be the turning point of the game.” He must have been joking.

Wasn’t He Cute? CBS ran footage of a very young Gronkowski while Eagle explained he grew up in Williamsville. “He was a large 5-year-old,” said Eagle. “He got bigger. Much bigger.”

Back in Western New York, Part 2: When Gronkowski caught his 53-yard touchdown pass from Brady to set a Patriot record for touchdown receptions, Eagle enthusiastically said of the once again immortal tight end: “Back in Western New York, Rob Gronkowski with a big spike.”

D-I-S-R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Eagle noted that Bills rookie Shaq Lawson got his first sack against one of the best quarterbacks ever in Brady. A little while later, Lawson was called for roughing the passer against Brady. “That was really late,” said Fouts. “He had about two, two and half steps and piles into Brady. Rookie mistake.” Fouts noted that Lawson could have been called for roughing the passer on an earlier play in the game.

Take a Seat: Fouts spoke for all Patriot fans after Brady took another big hit, saying “it was time for him to take a seat” with New England holding a 38-17 lead with about seven minutes left in the game.

Best Sign: It was a Patriotic campaign sign: “Brady/Gronk Make the NFL Great Again.” The Patriots may not be great, but they are one of the few NFL teams worth watching in the rain or on TV.

Statistics Lie: Eagle correctly noted that all the Bills rushing yards – they finished with 167 -- didn’t mean much besides the team couldn’t establish the pass.

Plum Assignment: Here’s the trivia question. Noting that the three New England quarterbacks this season hadn’t thrown an interception in eight games and that was one shy of the record set by Cleveland in 1960, Fouts made some old NFL fans smile when he said “the great Milt Plum” was the Browns quarterback back then.

Google It: Eagle noted that he initially thought something thrown on the field was a penalty flag before he realized that wasn’t it. Eagle didn't say what it was and I can't. You can head to the internet if you want to find out. It wasn’t the only X-rated thing about the game. The Bills secondary performance also qualified.

He Forgot Talent: After Eagle noted that the Patriots have won the rematch of the past six times AFC East teams have beaten them by an average of 28 points, Fouts said: “Focus. Revenge.” He forgot to mention Talent. And Coaching.

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