In football at least, Buffalo is the place where dreams go to die. Some don’t even let their imaginations run too wild at this point. As with any team that’s suffered years, decades or even centuries of misery, there are arbitrary starting points for that pain, signature losses and heartbreaks that are impossible to overcome.
For the Bills, there are too many. Their last playoff appearance was 1999, and even that season ended in the most Bills’ fashion possible with the benching of Doug Flutie after he led the team to a 10-5 regular-season record, sat and watched Rob Johnson play a meaningless season finale against the Colts, then watched as head coach Wade Phillips name Johnson the starter for their wild card playoff match-up against Tennessee. It was a mess that also ruined the Flutie Flakes brand in the process. And so, this being Buffalo, concrete jungle where dreams aren’t made up, that playoff game ended up with the Music City Miracle.
Since 1999, the Bills have had just one winning season, a 9-7 finish in 2004. Of course, that was the season when they lost a home game to Pittsburgh in Week 17 against the Steelers’ second stringers when a victory would’ve sent the Bills back to the postseason. So even that silver lining of a winning season isn’t remembered well. There’s been the Drew Bledsoe era, the J.P. Losman experiment, the Trent Edwards whatever you want to call it, the Ryan Fitzpatrick momentary ray of hope situation, and now, it’s new head coach Doug Marrone and rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel.
Forgive Bills fans if they’re a little tired of starting over at this point, of throwing out the phrases like development, progress, moral victories and hope for the future. And forget about all that, when in Week 1, they led the New England Patriots in the second half, while the entire world waited for the inevitable late-minute heartbreaker, which of course came signed, sealed and delivered in the final seconds.
But there were the Bills yesterday, driving with no timeouts, down 6 points at home in the final minute. Goal to go. Six seconds left. Manuel rolls out and throws it to the corner of the end zone for Stevie Johnson. And there he was, all by his lonesome, the ball falling right into his arms. Touchdown. Victory. And on the television screen, as the clock showed double zero after a Cam Newton sack on the final play of the game, I saw a single confetti fall down on the field. It was so appropriate.
No one thinks this Buffalo win meant anything but what it meant in the moment yesterday. But in the moment, for just a few minutes or even a whole day, this was not the place where dreams go to die.
Onto the winners and losers for NFL Week 2, and also, get well soon, Malcolm Floyd.
I write about sports in my spare time, which is all the time. I try to get the Popeyes three piece for $3.99 daily deal on Thursdays even if my fiancee’s cooking dinner at home. I’m looking for a Michael Dickerson Vancouver Grizzlies jersey so if you have one, let’s be soulmates.