Watching the Bills in Buffalo is novel for some of us. Visiting home is a welcome advantage for those expatriates who miss the immediate excitement generated by a team that remains ours. And this was the perfect Sunday to venture to the homeland. The team provided the chance to enjoy the crucial final moment: the clock gives you 3,600 seconds, so you may as well use them all. They even left two to spare. The adrenaline spike was worth it.
Those of us who left Buffalo for the filth, rudeness, and iniquity of New York City sometimes head back west to remember what courtesy and lawns are like. The experience of seeing the area’s football squad in action is enthralling even for us slugs who wake up at noon and stroll to Tim Hortons as our version of tailgating. Enjoying the game through the intermediary of television is a more rewarding experience when you’re in your gang’s territory.
This is more than just any city hosting some team. It’s not just a matter of being in one’s hometown but in this supremely loyal jurisdiction. The joyous camaraderie felt throughout the television audience reflects the Mafia’s infectious aspects. You can experience it everywhere. Honking and waving from motorists who noticed a pedestrian’s Bills shirt is as fun as hearing cheering from nearly every property if our boys score. Other places are watching football while Buffalo lives it.
There’s something comforting about knowing adjacent households were also apprehensive about the game’s initial choppy tone. Tense neighborhoods were waiting for that dynamic element to manifest itself just before the clock expired. The Bills elected to take their time, which was fine as long as they got the work done.
Its nice being in an area code where everyone knows what you mean when you, say, wonder aloud how Mario Williams can disappear for a bit before suddenly becoming quite visible. And it’s comforting knowing how many people feel relief that C.J. Spiller was back to taking the openings he found. Those you pass on the sidewalk are similarly happy that Leodis McKelvin is playing his best when it’s needed most while cringing that he’s still being exposed by returning punts. And everyone allows everyone else to take back all the things said after one missed attempt about the kicker who still has the hologram sticker on his jersey.
Most happily, innumerable area residents are watching a quarterback grow up rapidly. We saw a few mistakes from EJ Manuel, as one would expect from a 23-year-old who’s barely into his first job after college. Backers have been bracing for bouts with inaccuracy or the occasional carelessness with retaining possession. But leaders overcome errors, in this case by noticing when Stevie Johnson confused the secondary.
And nothing unites locals like a common enemy. It’s too bad Carolina is in the rival conference, as this mostly obscure team is fun to hate. It was especially sweet to top a contentious foe who engages in lots of chippy play and chirping. Most notably, Steve Smith is an unpleasant tree stump who uses his production as an excuse to throw tantrums. As for the man who sometimes delivers passes to him, Cam Newton is stupendous depending on the play. But grab a lager from the fridge and return to discover a blind man wearing the same jersey. At least black and teal looks sweet, as long as you’re wearing a Starter jacket two decades ago.
As for the team that played through the whistle, the Bills simply had to recover from their heartbreaking opener considering that the league gave them home-field advantage for the first eighth of the season. Failing to get at least a split would have been intolerable, especially when even casual fans are cognizant of the playoff miss rate for teams who begin 0-2.
Losing twice before hitting the road would have made a young season seem very long. The
prospect of winning maybe 10 of 14 to make the postseason with only 5.5 more home games left would have been as unlikely as a rookie leading an 80-yard touchdown drive in 96 seconds. Thankfully, only the latter scenario came true. Credit a drama with a most satisfying conclusion for granting everyone at supermarkets in Tonawanda and offices in Lancaster a few days of euphoric moods. The Bills enjoyed home-field advantage as much as I did.