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.
Welcome back Bills Mafia! How was your bye week? I’m pretty sure that it would have been much better for us all had we left Jersey victorious, but it’s now time for us to move on. Losing isn’t something anyone likes to deal with, but when losses occur, we as individuals have to put those losses behind us and move forward. Some losses however are just harder to deal with, especially when it deals with matters of life and death. Unfortunately for the Bills Mafia, we experienced losses both on and off the field this past week.
As most of you already know, the Buffalo family lost a beloved individual last week. Kent Hull, who was the Bills center for eleven years, and key ingredient to the no huddle offense in the 90s, passed away on October 18th at the age of 50. The loss of this great man was felt throughout Bills nation, and it was touching to hear the many stories that were shared over this past week regarding who this man really was. Hull will certainly be remembered for his excellence and professionalism on the field, but he will also be revered for who he was off the field. The Bills family could not have lost a better individual, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family.
When someone passes away, it puts many things in perspective. For some, situations such as this one will make you appreciate everything that has been provided for you throughout your life, and it makes you realize that you truly are blessed to live another day. Death also helps us recognize that no matter how much we love the game of football, in the end, that’s all it really is: A game. For most of us, the Buffalo Bills are a way of life, and a loss can ruin our entire work week as we anticipate the next challenge. However, a loss in competition pales in comparison to the loss of a human being. I’m truly finding it difficult to come up with the right things to say as I write this article, as the contents throughout may seem meaningless given this tragic event. If you take anything from this week’s article, let it be this simple idea: Appreciate everything you have, and take nothing for granted, because tomorrow is not promised. Rest In Peace #67.
The Week That Was:
Buffalo Bills 24 @ New York Giants 27 (10/16/11)
With the bye week on the horizon, the Buffalo Bills marched into New Jersey with hopes of starting the 2011 season at 5-1. The Giants on the other hand were trying to avoid going into their bye week with a .500 record. Out of the gate, the Buffalo offense got off to a great start, as they answered a scoring drive with one of their own. With the first play from scrimmage for the offense, Fred Jackson took a Ryan Fitzpatrick handoff 80 yards to pay dirt to tie the game up at 7. Later in the quarter, Buffalo’s own Naaman Roosevelt caught a quick pass from Fitz and took it 60 yards to the house to give Buffalo a 14-7 lead. Right off the bat, it looked as if this Buffalo offense was going to continue thriving, but as the game progressed, the Giants defense began to buckle down.
Early on, it looked as if Fred Jackson was going to flat out dominate the Giants defense, who had struggled against the run in the first 5 weeks of the season. While Jackson was able to make some big plays for the Buffalo offense, as the game progressed, the Giants found a way to hold their ground and contain the potent Buffalo attack. These two evenly matched teams fought right down to the wire in this one, and in the end, the Bills came up short as they lost the game 27-24. Last Sunday’s loss pushed the 2011 Buffalo Bills to a 4-2 record. This was Buffalo’s second loss of the season, and their second loss by a 3 point margin. Here are some notes from last Sunday’s loss to the Giants.
- Fred Jackson’s 80 yard TD in the first quarter was the longest TD run of his career, and the longest TD run for a Buffalo Bills player since 1990 (Thurman Thomas)
- In 2010, the Buffalo Bills scored a total of 283 points. So far in 2011, the Bills have scored 188 points, and will only need to average 9.5 points per game for the rest of the season to equal last years total.
- Naaman Roosevelt’s 60 yard touchdown in this game was the first TD of his young career.
There was a lot to like about the Bills’ performance last game, especially given how shorthanded we were due to injuries, but there are definitely areas of concern for this team of ours. The 2011 Buffalo Bills have been successful up to this point in the season largely due to the fact that the Bills defense has been able to create turnovers in bunches. These turnovers in turn have created great opportunities for our offense. Last Sunday however, the Giants won the turnover battle 2-0, and for the first time this season, the Bills were unable to take the ball away from their opponent. While I don’t think it is necessary for the Bills to create turnovers in order to win games, I do feel as if we have relied a bit heavily on those takeaways up to this point. That being said, despite the fact that the Bills lost the turnover battle this past week; they still only ended up losing the game by 3 points, and were in position late in the 4th quarter to take the lead.
Going into this game, I had a feeling that the ground game on both sides was going to dictate the outcome, and I specifically stated that Ahmad Bradshaw would be the key to this game. The running games for both teams were very effective, and for the Giants, Bradshaw’s 3 touchdown performance helped push them over the top en route to their 4th victory of the season. For the Bills, Fred Jackson had a great day, but two costly mistakes by Ryan Fitzpatrick proved to be the difference in this one. Of his two mistakes, the second interception of the day may have been the one that hurt the most.
Shortly after the game, there were many tweets suggesting that Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t any good, and some even went as far to criticize our front office for not brining a quarterback in this past offseason. The negative tweets that were being spewed by Bills fans triggered some really bad memories for me. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I absolutely despise the negative outlook when it comes to our Bills. While I can appreciate passionate statements in regards to our team, whether negative or positive, the one thing that really gets to me is when fans use the past to make an argument about the present. Every situation is unique, and there is no reason that our recent futility should dictate our future aspirations and expectations. With that being said, I apologize to any of you who may have been upset by my remarks post game. Emotions can get the best of me, just as they can you. We are all human.
In the end, losing this game is not the end of the world, but it certainly should be used as a learning curve for the rest of the season. The performance all around was a bit sloppy, so I have to dish out a grade of C+ for our boys in red white and blue. If not for the two costly mistakes by Fitzpatrick, and some costly penalties on the defensive side of the ball, we could have come out of this game victorious. I will not put all of the blame on Fitzpatrick for this loss. Fitzpatrick should have made both of those throws, and he knows it, but there were other factors throughout this game that contributed to the final outcome.
The Week That Will Be:
(3-3) Washington Redskins @ (4-2) Buffalo Bills
(at the Rogers Centre in Toronto)
The Buffalo Bills return from the bye week with an important game against a banged up Washington Redskins team. The Redskins, who currently sit at 3-3, not only have lost Hightower and Cooley for the season, but also have uncertainty looming at the quarterback position. As of right now, it looks as if John Beck will be the starter this week, and he will have to go to battle without one of his best weapons in Santana Moss.
For the Bills, it was announced earlier this week that they will be without LB Shawne Merriman for the remainder of the 2011 season. While Merriman may not have put up great statistics up to this point in the season, his loss is not encouraging news for a defense that desperately needs to figure out how to get after opposing quarterbacks. The younger defensive players will need to step up in Merriman’s absence, particularly Arthur Moats and Kelvin Sheppard. To make matters worse for this defense, it looks as if the Bills will be without Kyle Williams for the second straight game. Williams, who is dealing with a nagging foot injury, is not certain when his return will take place.
Despite the injury concerns for both teams, this matchup seems to favor the Buffalo Bills on paper. The Washington offense is struggling, and this might be just what the doctor ordered for this Buffalo Bills defense. The Buffalo defense has allowed 400 plus yards in 5 straight games, and is hoping to put an end to that streak this Sunday. The Redskins defense however is very solid, and will be a great test for the Bills’ offense. Washington’s defense goes into this game ranked 6th in the league in points against, and 12th in yards allowed; two categories the Buffalo offense ranks highly in (3rd in points scored and 10th in yards gained).
This game will come down to our ability (or inability) to score on this Redskins defense. While I expect the Buffalo defense to bounce back this week, I feel that there is a very real possibility that we may score under 20 points for the first time this season. However, given that the Bills average 31 points per game thus far, I can’t find it within me to predict a score along the lines of 17-10. With that being said, I feel that we can come out of this game victorious, and I believe that we will. My prediction for the Bills this Sunday is a victory, as they defeat the Washington Redskins 28-14.
Quote Of The Week:
“This is NOT a home game. It’s an international game that counts as a home game.” – George Wilson
Calling Out A Hater:
Canadian sports columnist Cathal Kelly put out a reactionary piece early Thursday morning, in which feelings were shared based on George Wilson’s recent comments regarding the game that is about to be played in Toronto (see above). If you haven’t read the article, please do, because reading it may allow this next rant to make a little more sense to you.
Firstly, I’d like to point out that the Buffalo Bills and their fans do not owe the Canadian/Toronto community ANYTHING. While it is true that some great Bills fans exist in the area, it doesn’t change the fact that the Buffalo Bills are OUR TEAM! What has taken place here is a desperation deal that was made by our owner in an attempt to expand the brand, and with hopes of generating more revenue for our smaller market team. The deal with the Toronto group was nothing more than that, and financially, it has worked out greatly for our organization. Don’t be bitter– you got fleeced here.
This piece by Kelly absolutely infuriates me, because Kelly is missing the point in all of this. THE BILLS ARE OUR TEAM!!!!!!! They always have been, and they always will be, and the closing statement is a prime indication of how much Kelly just doesn’t get it, as an idle threat is made: “Keep talking. It’s going to seem less and less like a home game with each passing press conference.” Really?!? REALLY?!?!
Peace and Blessings,
Sean (aka “@BillsMafiaDon”)
Bills Mafia Blog