Teams strive to be known for something other than missing the playoffs as regularly as a Baker Mayfield commercial airs. We should be grateful for the possibility to blow a meaningful game. To show how far they’ve come, the Buffalo Bills broke hearts on a grander scale.
I don’t want to review the maddening squandered chances from their lone playoff outing, as our brains will do that for us automatically for as long as they function. Shellshocked backers stop strangers on the sidewalk and ask them to judge the tone of a breakup text.
“You had him.” We’ve all been chanting the same thing since a missed sack that defines the difference between euphoric dreams and horrid reality. Oh, it’s just a maddening play to regret forever. Plan to mutter how this game was winnable to retirement home nurses.
Any Buffalo supporter can rattle off a million examples of avoidable errors that caused catastrophic athletic meltdowns. Trauma is easier to remember than a Social Security number.
The offseason has begun, which is jarring in its unpredictability. Traditionally, the Bills finish along with the regular season. But the finale was not the final. This mysterious postseason left only a few days to plan for the knockout stage. The poor team didn’t even know who they’d play until a few days before. You’re telling me this occurs every season? Don’t players get stressed out?
Josh Allen didn’t realize the Joker was the bad guy. Chaos may be a bit overrated. A rather unpredictable quarterback reversed his usual routine by going from calm international spy to agent of disorder. The first half featured him sipping a cocktail suavely at midnight. But he dared you to fight after telling you he loves you at last call. Allen is quite the rusher and receiver. I wonder if he can throw.
A player with plans as grandiose as Max Fischer needs to focus on what actually functions. If Allen doesn’t want to spend eight months being reminded about ball security, then he shouldn’t try to throw it into a wormhole.
Our beloved star-crossed franchise still endures playoff droughts even though they only went two measly years between bonus games. Buffalo did end the touchdown dearth that began during Bill Clinton’s second term, but they still haven’t won since his first. There will be at least seven presidential elections between Bills playoff wins. I wish for a constitutional limit.
Present players don’t want to talk about losses continuing brutal history that began before many of them were born. But questions about eternity and what we did to provoke agony through it will continue. Like our woe, the legacy is endless.
This team finished strongly in the same sense I can be trusted to operate heavy machinery at an open bar. It turns out only being up by two scores deep into the third quarter of a game they dominated was insufficient. Acting like they had already advanced prevented it from happening.
We want to be worried, as it means we have something about which to care. It’s easier to live without stress. Doing so also guarantees a wholesale lack of excitement. Watching our favorite side misplace what should be an insurmountable lead is an assumed risk of cheering.
The roster failed their most extreme elimination challenge. A more prominent implosion is an improvement in its rueful way. Bills fans shouldn’t keep having to conduct shower debates about whether it’s better to stay obscure playoff outcasts or feel disappointed by missing the elite eight.
The postseason isn’t just about making appearances. There should be no Oscars red carpet-style blather about being happy to be there. Contentedness with the equivalent of a nomination might have been tolerable during the previous playoff cameo, but not with a better cast. A defeat after being up 16 should hurt no matter how improbable a fifth seed was just one coach ago.
Mournful personal events overshadow a tough game’s circumstances. My father died last week. His funeral was one day before the game, and the Bills dutifully let him down like pallbearers.
A distraction turned to aggravation. I was hoping for the small comfort of finally having a playoff win after suffering loss. Instead, the result added mild frustration to massive disconsolation. I had an exponentially more afflictive moment with which to cope and didn’t need the symbolic athletic setback. There are easier ways to be reminded sports are ultimately irrelevant. But wretched finishes can still sum up life a bit too well.
Some things aren’t passed along. Take my personal rabidness about hometown teams, which I did not acquire hereditarily. My father was more likely to ask the score and curse than participate in my zealous routine. I lock onto the screen like the play provides an antidote for poison I just consumed. Meanwhile, Dad rolled his eyes at both the game and me.
Despite his relatively casual approach to fandom, my father took peculiar comfort in complaining about teams he grew accustomed to expecting to lose. I should thank the Bills for continuing that legacy.
His life lesson of bracing for misfortune is essential. I didn’t say it was a nice one. I appreciate enduring examples Dad provided as I’m bereaved of far more than a game in Kansas City. For the Bills, progress means missing a bigger opportunity.
Editor’s babble: Our heartfelt condolences to Anthony after his father’s passing. We’re right by your side, Anthony. Thanks for all the witty, acerbic and truthful commentary throughout the season. We are so grateful for your many contributions to our blog. You can find Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyBialy.