Buffalo Bills: Believe it!
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
|Buffalo Bills cornerback Drayton Florence (L) jumps into the stands to celebrate an interception and touchdown, with linebacker Shawne Merriman (R) against the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter of their NFL football game in Orchard Park, New York September 25, 2011. REUTERS/Doug Benz
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - He has been a Buffalo Bill for six seasons now, so George Wilson understands the community he works in.
He gets what Sunday afternoons in football season mean to his neighbours, how they rise and mostly fall with the fortunes of his team.
He understands their pain and loves to share their passion, on the rare occasions he has had the chance.
So when Rian Lindell’s 28-yard field goal split the uprights as the clock ran out Sunday and the Bills shocked the world with a 34-31 win over the New England Patriots, Wilson soaked in the magic of the moment.
Not only did the Bills move to 3-0 and in first place in the AFC East, they knocked off might Tom Brady, intercepting him four times in a memorable second-half comeback that will be the talk of the football world for the next seven days.
It was bedlam at Ralph Wilson Stadium, perhaps not the biggest win here, but the most meaningful in a long time.
“We’re playing in a blue-collar city and we look at ourselves like a blue-collar football,” Wilson, the Bills safety, said. “They always come out and support us in the past few years when we haven’t played so well.
“Now our fans can go to work on Mondays with the sweet taste of victory in their mouth. They probably won’t be getting much work done tomorrow.”
No, they’ll be reliving every minute of this one.
The comeback, from trailing 21-0 in the first half, came hard on the heels of last week’s 18-point comeback against Oakland. According to STATS Inc., it is the first time any NFL team has roared back from such a hole in back-to-back weeks.
Sure, Brady might have thrown for 387 yards and four touchdowns, making it look so easy, but his four picks matched the total for all 16 games last season.
The Bills scored 24 points off those miscues, the last of those a 27-yard return for a touchdown by Drayton Florence with 10:22 remaining to give the Bills their first lead.
By the end of the game Brady, who is on pace for more than 6,000 passing yards, looked rattled and almost ordinary.
“Any time you turn the ball over, it’s never good for your psyche,” said Patriots receiver Wes Welker, who had 16 receptions and two touchdowns. “It’s never good for the team and it’s never good for scoring points.”
Once again, the Bills remained poised despite finding themselves in a deep hole, this time against a superior opponent. It’s only three games, not even a quarter of a season, but you get the feeling something is building here.
In Week 1, they destroyed a sorry Kansas City squad. In the home opener the following Sunday, the Bills defence struggled but the offence made up for it with a second-half surge. And now this, against a Patriots team that came in to the Ralph as nine-point favorites and riding a 15-game win streak against their division rival.
“When you put everything into it, the whole comeback thing, the streak, a lot of it happened when guys weren’t here,” said Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw for 369 yards and two TDs. “In terms of what it means for the city of Buffalo, it’s the biggest win since I’ve been here for sure.”
At the least, the win restores some credibility and even more cause for optimism given that they will likely be favoured over the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday. By now, there isn’t a Bills fan who hasn’t reached for the schedule and figured out how many games their team will win in the remaining 13.
“It’s the first time in my career we are on top of the division and the first time we have beaten New England,” said Bills running back Fred Jackson, whose one-yard TD plunge in the fourth quarter tied the game at 24.
“It’s just one win. We’re 3-0, we didn’t win a Super Bowl. We DID beat a good team, I don’t want to take anything away from that.”