YOU GOTTA BILLIEVE. Yup. I went there.
Today was the kind of sports day that you can only dream of. I don't know many Bills fans who are overwhelming positive about the team's chances in closing out a close game, or coming from behind in the second half, and both of those scenarios happened today. But, today the Bills showed themselves to have just a little bit of magic - if not more - and will to win, and after the poise showed by Fitzpatrick, I think its fair to say that the Bills paradigm has shifted a little bit more. I think it's fair to say that the Amish Rifle might just be making a case that he is the truth and that there's no need to rush out and get a quarterback unless there's a supremely talented option that can be signed.. And, I think its fair to say that the gentlemen playing for this football team under Fitzpatrick's guidance are of a different stock that what we've come to expect and accept as fans.
They are not Champions, they are not playoff-bound, they are perhaps not even, in the end, good. But, you know what, they have the capacity of being GREAT. They've shown us "great" in the past two games - two different types of "great," but equally impressive and befuddling. Last week was dominance, top to bottom. And this week was resilience and patience.
And, the constant in both, without equal, is Ryan Fitzpatrick.
We just walked away from one of the greatest come-backs in Bills history - certainly the biggest since THE Comeback - and you have to be ignorant to all that surrounds you if you can't see Fitzy for what he really is, or at least can be from time to time: an ELITE NFL quarterback.
So long as Tony Romo, for instance, is considered elite (and maybe he isn't as much anymore), despite his moments of utter fail within every season and postseason, then you have to see that Fitzpatrick is approaching that. And so long as Fitz keeps doing it with a patchwork of talents within a largely unproven receiving corps, while other elite QBs are finding their success at the helm of an offense stacked with proven players, he must remain in the conversation.
As clutch as can be.
With the way he's playing right now, so long as you're talking only about what Fitz has done, and not what he might do, for this team, you simply cannot overstate how great this guy is playing. He has been that good.
This game was just another example of what Fitz can be, and has given us yet another memory to quietly convince us that this team's greatest success over the next few years are going to be with this Harvard guy who has won over the locker room and is now moving on to an entire region. Fitz was calm and poised, and displayed a stunning commitment to getting the ball where it needed to be (and, to be real, this is something sorely lacking in the last ten years of Bills' quarterbacks), He has turned himself into a field general with a great eye towards taking his troops into battle. With him at the helm, we have every reason to hope for a far-from typical script of Buffalo Bills football, and - God! - is this fun.
I'm sure that many will break this win down with respect to the several other positives, and I'm sure that some will choose to consider the most salient detail to be the fact that the Bills were down 18 at half. I'm not here to tell you that it doesn't make sense to shoulder Fred Jackson or David Nelson or Stevie Johnson with as much praise, or that it isn't smart to remain cautiously optimistic at best after the debacle that was the first half today. I get that we all need our own transition period to move from living with the expectation of disappointment to living with the confidence that we'll, at least, be given entertaining and competent football. What I can say, though, is that it's safe to say certain things about Fitz - things that recognize his actual greatness without over-promising on the greatness of his future.
Comforted by the win today, and the way they won today, I don't feel any reason to doubt that this team can beat any team in this league. Whether they do or not remains to be seen, but all we can do is cheer and allow ourselves a moment to believe. The Amish will take it from there.
Next week's New England. Let the week of speculation, hand-wringing and "Bill Belichick is a cheater" jokes begin.