Bills just can't get it right

Bills running back Fred Jackson is upended by Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in Baltimore,...

Bills running back Fred Jackson is upended by Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in Baltimore, Maryland on October 24, 2010. (JOE GIZA/Reuters)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:50 PM ET

Is there a tougher passion to follow than being a fan of the Buffalo Bills?

They don’t make it easy.

Even when they finally unload a guy such as Trent Edwards, who is better than any football player on the planet at draining the game of every possible drop of excitement, they find a way to make it tough to love them.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is everything Edwards is not. He’s fearless, both with the football and his own well-being. He’s a risk-taker and more concerned with giving his team a chance to do something special than worried about how he looks doing it.

And, for an entire half on Sunday, in Baltimore against the tough Ravens, all of those traits served Fitzpatrick and the Bills well.

And then, the football gods, who, for whatever reason seem to take great pleasure in giving the Bills and their followers something, only to cruelly pull it away, did just that as the Ravens ralled to win 37-34 in overtime.

This one wasn’t just pulled away from the Bills once. That wouldn’t be good enough. Twice, they had it yanked from their grasp.

By rights, the Bills should have gone into the locker room at the half with an 11-point lead.

Instead, they went in leading by four. Even with the 11-point bulge, savvy Bills fans were well aware this one was far from over. But when the Ravens somehow survived a Bills interception in the end zone that was ruled a non-catch because the would-be interceptor, Reggie Corner, rolled/was pulled over the body of Anquan Boldin and out the back of the end zone with his right foot failing to touch the turf.

Typically, the Bills came out after the break and appeared to have left whatever game they had in the first half back in the locker room.

Fitzpatrick threw an interception from just outside his own end zone and, one play later, the Bills’ lead is gone as Boldin hauls in a pass from Joe Flacco after a flea-flicker for the go-ahead score.

Normally, this is the cue for wizened old Bills fans to turn the channel or turn over on the coach and start the afternoon nap.

But Fitzpatrick wasn’t done. While the Bills defence tightened up after giving up 24 points on four consecutive series, Fitzpatrick rallied the troops and managed to erase the 10-point deficit and force overtime.

It was the anti-Edwards in operation.

Fitzpatrick finished the day with 374 yards passing and four touchdowns. He threw two interceptions, both of which turned out to be costly, but at least he was trying to do something. All of this against a Ravens defence that is third-ranked in the NFL and full measure for it.

Ravens head coach Jim Harbaugh was left speechless at times as he watched Fitzpatrick march the NFL’s 30th-ranked offence up and down the field against his vaunted defence.

It took a scathing Ray Lewis lecture to his fellow defenders while the Baltimore offence was on the field to get them settled down, but even after that, Fitzpatrick brought the Bills back.

His emergence, along with a two-touchdown afternoon from Lee Evans, had even the most jaded Bills fan thinking that maybe this time would be different.

Then came the second gutting, this one in overtime as Fitzpatrick again had the Bills driving. A completed pass to Shaun Nelson at the Buffalo 45 had seven different Ravens converge on the receiver. While six held him up, Lewis muscled the ball out of his hands for a fumble recovery.

A few plays later, Billy Cundiff kicked the game winning field goal as the Bills dropped to 0-6.

It was a wildly entertaining game, the second (around a bye week) that the Bills have played, both of which have resulted in losses.

Fitzpatrick’s play alone will keep the loyal Bills fan coming back for more, but for how much longer?

Perhaps the Bills might start by addressing their third-quarter problems. They have now been outscored 77-14 in third quarters this year.

Get that under control and they might actually give their tortured fans something to celebrate.

For now, they’ll have to settle for a quarterback who actually looks like he wants to win.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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