Well, that was embarrassing. The Buffalo Bills, in their beautiful all whites, got gang-greened on national television in the NFL Thursday Night color rush game.
The Bills were on a kimmelweck roll after consecutive impressive victories. The pregame got fans nervous, like relative few games have this century. The Bills, coming off a Halloween Week thrashing of the spooky Oakland Raiders, looked scary good.
But we were either in a bubble or balloon — and would either burst or soar. No one knew which. Even those that say they did; didn't.
Bills fans, who often reflect the team, went into this game overconfident. Many if not most believed the hype. But Live from New York, we were the not ready for prime-time players. We stayed too long at the fair.
The game changed on turnovers. Murphy’s Law prevailed. The Bills dropped the ball and our hearts sank with them. Nick O'Leary, whose grandmother played lacrosse at Harvard, lost his mind and the football after a big-time reception. Jordan Matthews and Leonard Johnson just dropped it for no reason. The team played dispirited and we instantly felt the same.
Fans and players both thrive and often die on emotion. Jerry Hughes threw one too many f-bombs and the embattled ref threw his hankie. As fans, we were Jerry Hughes the entire game, relentlessly shouting and swearing at the refs. But we get no 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for that. It might not be polite but it’s very sportsmanlike. And we expect if not demand Jerry not do it.
And then we berate him for not being smart enough to not berate the refs we were berating.
They are the pros; they get paid for this not us. Most, if not all of the stuff we demand of players and coaches and team, we never demand of ourselves, such as consistency, toughness, and heart. Shady will cut on a dime, fans will turn on one. And maybe turn on him if he doesn’t stop dancing soon.
Our allegiance is to the laundry, the team, but it's fickle.
Against the Jets, the Bills were playing scared and getting manhandled but still in the game. Then late in the third quarter, down 24-7, just trying to make a play on third-and-10, Tyrod was tomahawked from behind and fumbled. We all got the collective, familiar sense of dread, the crud, the schoolboy sadness of learning you’ve been cheated on.
And all because of the fear we were no longer this dream team, we were back to being The Bills. Imposters. Pretenders to the AFC East throne. Jettisoned to also-rans.
Lightning-rod Taylor will fuel more outrageous arguments at water coolers, dinner tables, message boards and Twitter. Half the fans say he only looked good in garbage time and was hot garbage the rest. The other half will quickly point out he had the same good stats before the game got ugly.
Taylor was one of few bright spots. Zay Jones caught everything, including an intentional stray leg from Buster Skrine, a dirty cartoon character name if I ever heard one. It first looked like it caused a serious knee injury but now appears as if we may have dodged a bullet or at least ACL surgery.
And now we are left to wonder and argue is this an aberration or the real team. Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane seemingly were different — and then under the bright lights and big city they were the same ol' Billsy Bills. We've seen the lights go out on Broadway before.
We witnessed, experienced, and felt the horrible disorder of it all. And now we doubt ourselves and even our favorite players. Maybe even doubt what we see and believe. And it's still a week of more restless, annoying days until we find out what happens next. In the age of binge watching, that is much too long.
Games like this we have to put behind us like we expect the players to. Don’t hide. This is the time to wear your Bills hat, tee shirt or hoodie, especially if you live in NYC or other cities around the country.
Play The Blame Game with your friends, colleagues and family if you must. But the BBFS, Battered Buffalo Fan Syndrome, needs a culture change like the team you root for does.
There is as good a chance this is not the same ol’ Bills as it is. It's not all doomy-gloomy. At 5-3, at this pace, we make the postseason.
I, for one, am excited to see the offense with Kelvin Benjamin, the new Zay Jones, a healthy Jordan Matthews and Charles Clay, along with Deonte Thompson, Nick O’Leary and Andre Holmes.
Bills fans have been impatiently waiting forever. But Any Given Someday may still have arrived.
Pete Rosen is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, lifetime Buffalo fan, and may be found blathering daily at twobillsdrive.com.