This will be the last time for awhile that Bills Fans will have the privilege to celebrate Fred Ex, and we shouldn’t take it lightly.
Fred Jackson is Buffalo. You wouldn’t recognize him on the national stage and yet he is as good or better than anyone on it. He wasn’t given a chance but then took it anyway.
He’s the Bills’ third-leading rusher behind you-know-who Nos. 1 and 2. In 2010, he had the fifth most all-purpose yards in NFL history. In 2011, in 10 games, he was third in rushing with 934 yards, at 5.5 yards per carry, and also had 39 catches for a ridiculous 11.3 yards per reception. Then he got hurt, which pained us all.
It’s funny that we fans cringe at the thought of Tyrod Taylor running all the time, because, I guess, people think he will get hurt. And yet he is the exact same size as Fred Jackson – 6-foot-1, 215 pounds – who for most of his career we thought was indestructible.
Jackson was and is a true Buffalo treasure. Just like the city, no one really understands or appreciates just how good it is.
And the game on Sunday against the archrival Miami Dolphins was the quintessence of Fred Ex delivering one more time.
The Bills played better than expected, did little spectacular but a lot of very good all around, and made the fans stand up and cheer, proud of the heart, soul, guts, unwavering spirit, surprising strength and unappreciated talent of the team.
In other words — Fred Jackson.
In the best first half of the season on offense, Taylor spearheaded three long 75-plus-yard TD drives right into the heart of the Fins, including an actual two-minute drive that ended where it is designed to, in the end zone.
The line actually gave Tyrod a pocket on a bunch of plays and he just threw good passes for positive gains. Who knew?
LeSean McCoy played like vintage Fred, not a great day rushing, nor receiving, but total it up at the end and you have almost 100 yards and two touchdowns. Travaris Cadet once again proved the better option than healthy scratch Mike Tolbert, and had several sizable carries or catches.
On the other side of the ball, Buffalo returned to its “Gumby Defense,” elongating the field, stretching but not snapping, and then coming up with timely turnovers.
The Bills’ D forced Jay Cutler to be Jay Cutler, who threw a wild assortment of pop-fly balls off his back foot, three of which were caught by our boys in blue. For most of the game, Cutler had time to smoke a few Virginia Slims in the pocket, but it wasn’t until last call, er, the two-minute warning, did he catch fire. And by then it was too late.
The Fins did manage to put a small scare into the fans’ hearts with a late surge, helped by a harebrained penalty by Adolphus Washington, erratic coaching decisions by Sean McDermott and Rick Dennison, and a late case of temporary insanity by Preston Brown charging an onside kick and, as a member of the all-hands team, handing it back to Miami.
But Tre White was tres bien once more, against the run and pass, and iced the game with his fourth interception, tied for best among NFL rookies. Tre could have had uno-dos-tres.
The game was emblematic of the whole season, with flashes of brilliance, opportunistic defense, huge turnover differential, head scratching time management, lack of separation from wide receivers, Tyrod running for shelter, and Shady being the real McCoy.
But the Bills ended their home slate at 6-2, the best in seemingly forever, and kept their playoff hopes firmly alive and meaningful games surrounding Christmas and New Year's.
So here is a Christmas cheer to the man whom many fans felt embodied the team more than anyone perhaps in its history. The game, ultimately, was a tribute to the man who led the charge, Fred Jackson, who for almost his entire career, was Buffalo, and buffaloed anyone who doubted him.
As a player, teammate, ambassador, role model, citizen, it was an honor to watch him, root for him, and cheer for him.
Fred Jackson was truly great.
Like no other.
Like this city.
See you on the wall.
Pete Rosen is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, lifetime Buffalo fan, and may be found blathering daily at twobillsdrive.com.