Players, Not Hopes Injured for Bills

Mind games don’t affect a team’s record, unless they affect how you play real ones.  Sabotaging happiness often takes the form of imagining that your team is doomed to lose.  Coping with a depleted rushing attack in a stadium where they’ve struggled against a scheming coach could seem daunting.  Regardless, Buffalo found a way to dominate even if they tried their hardest to keep themselves from blowing out a rival.  There aren’t many maddening, frustrating 20-point wins.  But then there aren’t many teams like the Bills.

The stomping in the swamp could’ve been even less close.  The Bills did their best to throw their opponent a lifesaver by running too much.  Were they out to make the game more exciting for fans than it should have been?  Or were they concerned about ratings plummeting during a pummeling?  Let CBS executives fret about that.

Too many three-and-outs after the ample turnovers made a slaughter look more respectable.  A spectacularly clueless final first-half possession didn’t help, either.  And the defense doesn’t have to let ball-carriers catch up with them before initiating tackles.  Still, nothing’s bad when the Jersey Jets get humiliated.

Seeing into the future is perhaps humanity’s most desired ability.  But you don’t need to be clairvoyant while facing Geno.  Smith’s pouting on draft night continues, as the defense predicted what fluttering half-throw he would try next with wholesale ease.  A benched EJ Manuel still has a chance to develop into a starting quarterback.  Meanwhile, the Jets might wonder if Mark Sanchez would consider coming back.

Frank Summers (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Frank Summers (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Sometimes, all it takes is getting the order right, like celebrating only after scoring.  Sammy Watkins watched Frank Summers bruise over the goal line as punishment for hubris.  It’ll be clear the dynamic wideout learned the lesson when he stops pulling up on long runs, as he aggravatingly did while jogging through the final yards during his ensuing touchdown.  Even rookies should know not to make that mistake.  Sprinting until the official puts up his arms isn’t asking too much.  Picture a healthy Marquise Goodwin in the lane next to him racing to climb the podium if it helps.

Fans can only complain so much about a big victory, although I try to surpass that threshold.  No matter the questionable moments within, the Bills exposed the Jets as a napalmed tire fire while avoiding more major injuries.  Winning at the halfway point was an upgrade from last week’s field trip to the infirmary which hurt just to watch.

The powerless feeling upon watching a player get felled is exacerbated by wondering how it will affect the team’s chances.  But healthy teammates brushing off a thinning depth chart is a sign of broader success.  Specifically, this franchise refused to use the absence of both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson as an excuse.  The Jets’ refusal to possess the ball helped.  But Buffalo still won with neither complimentary rusher available.

One of the harrowing parts of a general manager’s job is figuring how much to invest in reserves.  Doug Whaley could’ve sunk too much into running backs.  Nobody can say he was planning for his divergently talented top backs to get hurt in consecutive quarters.  But Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown turned out to be nice to have.

It’s true that replacements Coy and Vance ended up being non-factors.  But that could be due to the coaching staff’s insistence upon running in predictable situations.  Defenders aren’t going to be deceived by regular handoffs on the first two downs.  Now, the Bills have a break to figure a better balance as Jackson gets closer to action.

You may remember that Buffalo’s season was doomed in the summer.  Somehow, the Bills have a winning record halfway through a Kiko Alonso-less season.  The man who foes see as a Marvel Comics villain has been plotting his return, probably in an underground lair with a physical training room.  We haven’t heard the legend’s name as much as anticipated, as his comrades soldiered on without him.  Of course, the Bills would be better if their best offense-puncher hadn’t put unsustainably superhuman force on his joint.  And Nigel Bradham has had better outings.  But the defense hasn’t made excuses.

On the other hand, stubbornness is a self-inflicted injury.  The Bills aren’t going to win every week despite utterly conventional play-calling.  And the coach apparently really wanted us to appreciate Kraig Urbik by first playing without him.  Constancy can be overrated: one offensive line group starting every game isn’t advantageous if the same guys keep getting pushed to the quarterback.  As seen in a slightly improved effort, fielding better options is preferable to sticking with the same lineup out of fear caused by disruption.

An accumulation of injury updates on Monday can bring a fan to despair.  Not only is it too long before more games: you additionally have to ponder who will replace those sidelined.  But fans could look at this another way with an extra stupid week to wait.  Namely, the squad escaped the Meadowlands with a fifth win and without further serious wounds.

Football’s ritualistic nature leaves plenty of downtime for apprehension to fester.  Thankfully, the trifling matter of actually playing games can overcome a vivid imaginary loss.  We’re not getting ahead of ourselves to note that most offenses will fail to incessantly hand the ball to Buffalo’s defense.  But a Sunday off leaves extra time to plot and rejuvenate, which makes the cruel bye more endurable.

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy recently moved back to Buffalo from New York City and acts like he never left. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He likes getting Tim Hortons on the way to get Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.

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