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Voice of the Fan: With bye high coming to an end, what to expect next?

In this most manic-depressive of seasons, the Bipolar Bills are on a two-week bye-high after the mind-bending 41-10 dismantling of the New Jersey Jets.

Just another manic Sunday.

In Bills world, suddenly everything is seen through a prism, and our blues now look downright rose-colored.

In what can only be akin to masters starting to look like their dogs over time, Bills fans are physically and emotionally resembling their team, going through massive, often violent, “rapid-cycling” mood swings.

The clinical definition of rapid cycling is a pattern of frequent, distinct bipolar episodes; a person with the disorder experiences four or more episodes of mania or depression in one year.

And lucky for us, the upswing happened on bye week, so our lives, and the lives of everyone who comes in any contact with us, will be that much happier for that much longer.

The offense, which was dormant if not a doormat for most of the first 10 games of the season, erupted for 41 points, 451 yards from scrimmage, a 31-3 halftime lead, and real live bombs thrown and caught on the same play! The first play.

Instantly we went from "here we go again," to "let's do that again!" Because, well, we are as vacillating and prone to violent mood swings as our team.

Robert Foster returned to the active roster and immediately changed everyone's rapid cycling mind about him. An argument can be made for Foster being the MVP of the game, doing his very best Willie Mays basket catch imitation on the game's first snap. And the stage was set for a seemingly endless series of surprises, big-chunk plays, and wonderment, three of which Foster made himself.

Matt Barkley was signed off the street, thrust into the starting lineup, and shocked everyone with his heady play. Instantly there was a run game, pass blocking, open receivers, and unpredictable play-calling, all of which had crippled the Bills in recent weeks.

Vic Carucci: Matt Barkley surprisingly keys ‘fun win’ for Bills

Likewise, diminutive Isaiah McKenzie jitterbugged his way through the Jets defense and special teams for 121 all-purpose yards on nine touches, which served multipurposes in the game and kept the Jets changing their mind on what the Bills might do next.

The speed infusion kept Andre Holmes off the field, Cam Phillips off the roster, and wreaked havoc in the Jets' secondary. The downfield threat opened up the run game, and LeSean McCoy looked like Shady of old. Instead of looking for a hole to crawl into, Shady had holes to explode through.

Disputes of his demise are greatly exonerated.

Unfortunately, all this should have been known by coach Sean McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane before the season and the uninformed, ill-fated Nathan Peterman Experience. A Pop Warner coach knows if you cannot and will not throw downfield the defense will crowd the box, take away your run game and close down half the field as if putting a bunch of orange cones and traffic cops there. It should not have taken nine weeks to change their mind.

McDermott, however, surely knows how to coach defense, and the Bills are now ranked No. 1 in the NFL in yards. It's a remarkable stat given the offensive production in most games.

Each game a new defensive player or two seems to rise to the occasion. Against the Jets, it was Shaq Lawson and Levi Wallace, who came off the practice squad to play every snap on defense, the only Bill to do so.

For most of the capricious 2018 season, any given Sunday was replaced by any given someday in 2019, when we had fresh money to spend instead of dead money to burn.

But for that one joyous, manic Sunday, everyone's play and everyone’s spirits seemed to ascend, and every Bill and Bills fan had the same out-of-the-blue euphoria, right from the get-go pattern of Foster on the game’s first play.

The manic Bills fan says this is the start of something great. The depressive Bills fan says this was an aberration and we will come crashing back down to earth like the Jets did against us. But the rapture is going to last through Thanksgiving when the Bills face the equally unreliable Jacksonville Jaguars and our old false messiah, St. Doug.

Regardless of which Bills team shows up this Sunday, Bills fans had to be grateful for the mood upswing. Thankful for the heroics of Barkley and Foster et al., however short lived they may be.

We have become used to the rapid cycling of this team, and especially this season. But the bye-high feels oh so good, and couldn’t have come at a better time for our individual and collective mental health.

Pete Rosen is a screenwriter in Los Angeles and a lifetime Buffalo fan. He may be found blathering daily at twobillsdrive.com.

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