Editor’s Note: Almost immediately following its official inception during the first week of August, the #BillsMafia movement has had followers naming/renaming their Twitter handles using the term “Bills Mafia.” One of the first to do so was @BillsMafiaDon, the self-appointed “Don” of the movement. An active, vocal member of the #BillsMafia community, @BillsMafiaDon has been offered the opportunity to blog here at BillsMafia.com in a special weekly column.
It was very early Sunday morning as my friends and I were preparing to take the 5 hour trip out to Orchard Park for the game between the Raiders and the Bills. The original plan was to sleep a little bit, wake up at 4 AM, and then make the trek to lovely western NY to see our beloved Bills take on the boys in silver and black. Just hours before, I had finished watching Sal Capaccio‘s “Out of Bounds”, which to my surprise was actually being shown in my area. This even furthered my excitement for the game, and the anticipation of actually being in the Ralph for the home opener was growing by the second. I eventually came to the realization that I was way too excited to sleep, and my friends and I decided at 2 AM that it would be a great idea to just leave right then and there.
The drive out was extremely boring; even more so than usual, but I honestly didn’t care. The 2 friends who made the trip with me slept the whole way, and as I drove through the thick fog and darkness, blasting various styles of music, I couldn’t have been happier. I was on my way to see the Bills open up the Ralph in style. New uniforms, new turf, and a new swagger were on the horizon. I couldn’t help but to replay Marv’s encouraging words in my head “Where else would you rather be than right here, right now?” My answer to that question would be: “Nowhere.”
My friends and I finally arrived in Buffalo at about 6 AM Sunday morning, and to say that I was fighting off exhaustion is an understatement. To be completely honest, I don’t even know how I was functioning, but I somehow mustered up enough strength to chow down a French toast special at Denny’s. After we ate breakfast, my friends and I drove around aimlessly looking for something to do to kill the time, as per the new parking rules, the stadium lots didn’t open until 9AM. I had told my one friend Mo about the family, and even expressed to him that I was looking forward to meeting some of the family members at the Coffin Corner tailgate. Unfortunately, this never happened. At 8 o’clock, we decided that we were just going to park in a lot that wasn’t stadium owned and operated, as we were just about fed up with driving around trying to kill time. After we parked, that was it for me. As soon as I put that car in park, I put the seat back and closed my eyes.
Hours had passed with very little tailgating for yours truly, but it didn’t really matter to me, as we were about to make our way into the stadium with kickoff just under an hour away. As we approached the gate, my friend Jeremy turned to me and informed me that he had lost his ticket. At first, I thought he was joking, but no: He seriously lost his ticket, lol. Luckily, the nice kid at the guest services window was able to look up the season ticket information and give him a new one. I was hoping that this wasn’t going to be a sign of things to come as we finally walked through those gates. Little did I know, we were about to witness one of the best games to ever be played in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Now before I forget, I just want to give a big thanks to all of you who read the first article. The feedback that I have been getting from you all is greatly appreciated, and I just want everyone to know that I’m open to discussion about anything I write within these rants of mine. I also want to share that if you have any questions, comments, or just feel like sharing an opinion that is more than 140 characters in length, you can email me at BillsMafiaDon@BillsMafia.com. Without further ado, here is the week that was.
The Week That Was:
Oakland Raiders 35 @ Buffalo Bills 38
For the second consecutive week, the Buffalo Bills faced a rushing attack that was at the top of the league rankings in 2010, and for the second straight week, the Bills held a premier runningback to less than 100 yards on the ground. After a convincing win in Kansas City, the Bills were up against a strong running team lead by Darren McFadden, who in his first game of the season, ran for 150 yards in a win against the Broncos. On Sunday, the Bills were effectively able to contain Darren McFadden, holding him to just 72 yards on 20 carries (51 of those yards in the first half). While this is a somewhat modest performance for McFadden, he still had a tremendous game, as he also added 7 receptions for 71 yards, and scored a total of 2 touchdowns (1 rushing, 1 receiving). In the end however, the Bills showed the world why this team is different than people are used to, as they came back and won the game in dramatic fashion pushing their record to 2-0. The old Bills would have found a way to lose this game.
Here are some quick notes from the win against the Raiders.
- The Bills are 2-0 for only the third time in 10 years, and the first time since a 4-0 start in 2008.
- Sunday, the Raiders allowed the most points in a loss since a 43-37 defeat to Seattle back in 1998.
- There were 5 lead changes in the 4th quarter of Sundays game.
- The Buffalo Bills scored a touchdown in all 5 of their possessions in the second half.
- On the final drive in the fourth quarter, David Nelson caught 5 passes, including the game winning TD.
- The Raiders have now lost their last 4 games when they’ve had to travel to the East Coast.
- Brad Smith has run the ball out of the wildcat formation 6 times this season. All 6 went for first downs.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick has 17 pass attempts in the red zone thus far this season. Of those 17 attempts, 6 of them were touchdowns.
- So far this season, Ryan Fitzpatrick has a 120 Quarterback Rating in the fourth quarter.
- Fred Jackson currently leads the league in rushing with 229 yards. Darren McFadden is second, with 222.
- 6 different Buffalo Bills players have scored an offensive touchdown in 2011. (Scott Chandler (3), Steve Johnson (2), Fred Jackson (2), David Nelson , Donald Jones, and CJ Spiller each with 1)
Going into this game, I knew we could be in for a treat, but I had no idea just how good this was going to get. My prediction given to you all last week was a 17-14 final, and I couldn’t have been more wrong with my expectations. This game was an absolute shootout, and both passing defenses were not as solid as I expected them to be, and this is primarily due to the fact that both offenses did a tremendous job protecting their signal callers. One key to this game was our ability to contain McFadden, and I am very happy with our defenses performance against the run thus far this season. This game was a true test for our run defense, and I expect us to get better against the run as the season progresses.
In the first half, the offense just couldn’t get things rolling as they struggled to capitalize on the opportunities that were given to them. The Raiders jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead, and I couldn’t help but to think that perhaps last week was a sign of how bad the Chiefs were, rather than how good we were. My outlook was negative at this point, to the point where I didn’t really take in what I was seeing at the half, as one of my childhood idols had his number put on the ring of fame at the Ralph. While I did pay attention to the ceremony, and cheered Phil Hansen in appreciation, my mind was too distant to truly appreciate what I was witnessing. Then the second half started, and everything changed.
As the second half rolled on, the spirit Hansen showed during his halftime speech carried over to the play on the field. The Bills offense came out of the half with a confidence and efficiency that we have not seen in Buffalo in quite some time, dismantling the Oakland secondary en route to a 38-35 victory. I will admit though, we definitely got away with one this past Sunday. Late in the game, there were some huge penalties on the behalf of the Raiders, and without those penalties, we wouldn’t be 2-0 right now.
Before we talk about the Patriots game, I just want to make it known how big I think Donald Jones was in this game. While his production may not show greatly in the boxscore, he is definitely the unsung hero in my opinion. In the final drive of the game for the Bills, Jones made 3 huge plays for us. First came the huge first down just before the 2 minute warning, giving us a new set of downs to start our 2 minute drill with. Jones also converted a huge fourth down for the Bills late in the game, and knocked a would-be interception out of the hands of Chris Johnson. Not many people are talking about Jones this week, but without him, we would not have won this game. Another guy who isn’t getting much play this week is CJ Spiller, who showed us that he is definitely getting better as he gets more opportunities in his second year in the league. In the end, I feel blessed to be able to say that I was fortunate enough to have witnessed this game in person, and I can honestly say that this may be the best football game I have ever been to. While the performance wasn’t flawless, I have to give out another A+ for this one. Now it’s time to make a statement.
The Week That Will Be:
(2-0) New England Patriots @ (2-0) Buffalo Bills – 9/25/2011
Ralph Wilson Stadium
It’s been quite a long time since the Bills have beaten the New England Patriots, and I will never forget the last time we did, as we trounced them on opening day back in 2003. This was the first Bills game I had ever watched with my girlfriend at the time (who is now my wife), and this is a moment that we still talk about today. While I don’t expect to beat the Patriots by 31 this Sunday, I do think that it’s quite possible for us to win this game.
Tom Brady and Ryan Fitzpatrick are off to great starts as they both have tallied 7 TDS and 1 INT up to this point. These two QBs are currently tied for the most TD passes in the league, and this Sunday’s game has the potential to be a shootout just like we saw a few days ago. Neither team has shown an ability to stop the pass on a consistent basis in 2011, so I definitely expect this game to be similar to the first time we played the Patriots last year. Our front 7 definitely needs to get in Brady’s face, because if he has enough time in the pocket, he will pick us apart, and defensive stops will be scarce. I am of the belief that in this game, we match up extremely well with a team that most believe should handle us pretty easily come Sunday. My prediction for Sunday’s outcome is a victory for the Buffalo Bills, as they beat the New England Patriots 33-28.
Quote Of The Week:
“We’re giving this game ball to Mr. Wilson, you know, it’s the first time he’s missed an opener in a long time, and we’re sorry that he couldn’t be here, but I hope he’s proud of what we did on the field today” – Ryan Fitzpatrick
Calling Out A Hater:
As Fitz continues to thrive within Gailey’s offense, I definitely would be justified to keep calling out John Clayton as I did last week, but with the risk of sounding like a scorned lover in doing so, I’ll try to keep my selections a little more diverse. This week’s “hater” is the entire Raider Nation, or at least those who came at us in the family leading up to Sunday. I won’t call any of them out by name (or Twitter handle), because giving them any attention individually is really not worth our time, especially given some of the ignorance we witnessed last week. For those tweeps out there who had nothing but negative things to say about us as individuals, and about this team, all I have is one word: Scoreboard.
Until next time….
Peace and Blessings La Famiglia
Sean (aka “@BillsMafiaDon”)
Bills Mafia Blog