I know I always say this, but … this may be the one. I’m serious.
When there is a change in leadership, a fan’s relationship with his or her team is like meeting a new girl or guy. The head coach or general manager is like hooking up with someone at a party or blind date. You spend spring and summer together in hope it blossoms into true love.
Rarely – but like right now – it feels like it is more than a summer romance. It’s exciting. Passionate. You haven’t felt this way in a while and it’s intoxicating.
And there is a period of time when everything seems nearly perfect and will never get much better; because there is hope this is really it. You’re on top of the world and not just “in the hunt.”
This is what late Sunday afternoon to early Thursday evening is right now for Bills fans.
So savor these moments. Be nostalgic about what happened on Sunday. But that’s what these kinds of wins early in the new romance feel like. Genuine ecstasy – an AFC crown or Vince Lombardi Trophy – is still a possibility. We just had our seventh date. And it was euphoric.
Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane may just be the HC/GM we’ve been waiting for. Let your mind run wild with visions of parades down Delaware Avenue, because this could be the kick off to something special. Even better than that one you dated back in the ’90s that was so unforgettably great. But maybe you never even experienced that.
As far as the last play-date went, the Bills whipped the visiting Raiders in all three phases. For the second consecutive week, on offense, our no-name skill guys outhustled and outplayed their household name guys.
The OL was led by … wait for it … Jordan Mills … and Vlad Ducasse. Cordy Glenn returned to being Cordy Glenn. Shady McCoy shimmied for 151 yards rushing, including a show-stopping 48-yard dagger to make it 34-14.
In his highly anticipated return to Buffalo, Khalil Mack was shut down and nearly shut out of the box score by Mills and Glenn. Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka outplayed Mack on defense, having one less tackle but forcing one more fumble.
Tyrod Taylor stood tall in the pocket when he had to, scrambled wildly like he’s used to, and unveiled a new wrinkle – a 360 pirouette and reset to the middle of the field – where he then acted like it was a completely new play.
We’ve become so used to Taylor easily eluding unblocked rushers that it surprises us more when he is sacked than when he escapes. He wasn’t dropped once. But threw for one gorgeous score and vaulted for a second.
On defense, the Bills played a game of takeaway with Oakland without ever giving it up. A leaping tip by Preston Brown became a diving INT by ball-hawk Micah Hyde. A heady strip by Matt Milano became a KR recovery by Tonka Tolbert. A slobberknocker tackle by Leonard Johnson bounced into Milano’s mitts for a fumble recovery TD and Oakland never recovered. A centerfield catch by headhunter Trae Elston put them away for good.
This team ... this time … just feels different. The Bills players on the sideline looked like Bills fans in the stands on Brandon Tate's 24-yard first down catch-and-run. The announcers and refs thought it was a fight but it was a celebration. The team wants to win for each other and their new coach.
And like a new relationship, everything he or she says seems to work; to make sense. The littlest things are the biggest pleasures. In "Anna Begins": “And every time she sneezes I think it’s love … and oh, lord, I’m not ready for this kind of thing.”
The folks I watch the game with love my new relationship, too. Although Nick Naysayer contends that this beauty is unsustainable. And Denny Denier says it was just like that romance in 2008, when it really wasn’t like that at all.
But Gal Buffalo started to believe with the Bronco win; the eternal optimist. Henry Hype says we take the AFC East and the Pats are toast. Bill Apologist is sure every new coach is Bill Belichick, and soon thereafter is Hank Bullough. Alana Analyst is cautiously optimistic this brand of mistake-free football can win and she knows her stuff. Sammy DeStatman recalls every team that won the turnover differential this millennium reached the post-season. Jenny Creem just wants to have fun with this. And Rick Realist is rarely one; so no one listens to him. I don't even think that’s his real name.
So enjoy this win. These few blissful days before the Bills are on national television. No one knows right now if this will last. The Jets game could send us all crashing back down to earth.
You can't call this love, or even real, because it’s too early. You never know the real girl, or team, until bad stuff happens and you two must face adversity. But you can love this time, this experience, these extraordinary moments. Three hours Sunday afternoon were incredible, and the next few hours thinking or talking about it with friends and loved ones were, amazingly, nearly as good.
We’re not where we need to be. It hasn’t had time to mature. But it’s awesome right now. It feels soooooo good.
This is how life, as a man, as a fan, is supposed to feel. I can’t wait for Thursday night. I have another date; maybe with destiny. I know I always say this, but this may be the one. I’m serious.
Pete Rosen is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, lifetime Buffalo fan, and may be found blathering daily at twobillsdrive.com.