First, let’s get the uniforms out of the way because we couldn’t get them out of our sight. The Buffalo Bills’ Thursday night jumpsuits were the same shade of red as embarrassment, although they were at least less aesthetically jarring than all-green. The photonegative look has now happened once in team history, which is once too many. A full-crimson display is slightly rarer than a primetime road win. Cherish such a moment as the team pursues an even more dramatic nighttime win their next time out. In the meantime, I have a red Doug Flutie jersey I bought at Laux off a clearance rack years ago that I may have to dig it out of the closet if it’s the cool new throwback thing.
Each school of uniform fans got to vent thanks to Buffalo’s tomato look. On one extreme stands Sportslogos.net commenters who keep track of stripe widths. Simultaneously, the “They can wear pink tutus for all I care” crew maintains a team’s outfits don’t matter. Um, they would care. Looking sharp doesn’t hurt, especially when you can instantly spot which teams are competing based on resemblance to historical laundry. A team’s on-field presentation is important for identity as they try to shape their football style. You could still sort-of tell it was the Bills. A crucial AFC East win doesn’t always have to look nice to ultimately be appealing.
How did the play look while the players’ kits looked goofy? The field fittingly resembled a Yuletide tree on Buffalo Sports Christmas. It turns out the Sabres aren’t prohibited from winning on the same day as the city’s football club. At last, Terry Pegula’s two favorite toys have okay records. If progress seems slow, remember when there was no hope instead of some. That was earlier this decade, so your thoughts don’t even have to leave the iPad era to inspire cringing. Now, both defenses are getting stops when needed. So that’s what the red represents.
As with so many Christmas dinners, the last game turned to slugging. It wouldn’t be the Bills if they made it easy. Players should know they don’t need to keep things exciting until the end, as we’d prefer a typical Thursday blowout. But a divisional road game broadcast far beyond the local markets is bound to include challenging stretches. It’s not being negative to expect Buffalo will have to travel through valleys Monday in Foxborough. Persevering despite a few questionable play calls and poor long snaps is a sign of resiliency. A few big turnovers and strikes by the offense’s most vigorous aggressors is all it takes.
Weeknight games may be unfair, but at least they’re unfair to everyone. The Jets coped with the same quick turnaround, although they did get to stay in the swamp after a Sunday home game. Actually, that does suck. But every schedule is going to include challenging stretches, even if Buffalo’s seem to last for months. Now, the franchise stands in the midst of a little extra time to prepare for the season’s biggest challenge, which we could only wish would make the Patriots ironically moan about unfairness.
Excuses are for teams that find missing the playoffs acceptable. The Bills have to go out and play whenever called upon, which they did for a majority of snaps. An imperfect win is a good sign for the future in a league and world where nothing goes right every time. The coaching staff must account for trudging through tough series until Shady or Sammy get their chances.
I again wasn’t shanked in Jets territory, which counts as a win. The football scene was unremarkable behind enemy lines on the Escape from New York Island. Living in Manhattan means ordering a pizza on game night from a place that doesn’t have wings, if you can imagine such an eerie horror. I would’ve counted the Jets apparel I had seen about town on game day if anybody had been sporting any. Intensity magnifies exponentially near venues, but most of New York City is too busy or cool to act like caring about sports is important. Having to cross state lines to attend takes its toll. The fabulous Dahlhalla did spot some Bills garments in Penn Station before the game, so there were folks displaying fanaticism as long as the particular team doesn’t count.
With the first Rex Bowl out of the way, the Bills can get back to normal enmity. They should thrive on New England’s hostile environment as their coach did upon entering his last workplace. Facing the Jets in Jersey was good practice. The coach has already dealt with the club that fired him despite back-to-back conference final appearances and fielding any sort of team at all last season. Facing down a rival clawing for second place may be the closest thing possible to mentally preparing for the league’s eternal juggernaut. While there’s no substitute for facing the Patriots, they did face down the challenge in front of them.
The sheer hatred might be missing this Monday because of the regrettable dominance of the amoral division bullies. It won’t help much, but the crowd could be patronizingly indifferent about a team they don’t fear. Even if New England’s fans can’t manage to get really nasty toward the visitors, winning again in prime time away from home will of course be even more challenging than last time. But at least they’ve proven they can do it at all.