Goddammit. This may be a ruse, again. It may be the same old Bills sent to Orchard Park to fool us into some unsettled sense of optimism, who am I to predict the future, but, fuck. This team of ours is really enjoyable. Even when losing.
Yesterday went exactly how I sort of dreamed it would, to the extent my dreams are always, when no one's looking, tempered by a solemn acceptance that sports are simply sad. The Bills played out of their minds, kept an undefeated team in check, and ultimately lost because, well, just because. The lingering legacy of a snake bitten franchise appeared on the field yesterday and it meant a loss. Predictably, I suppose.
But this team, as shackled by apparent fate as it is, and as injured and beat up as it is, plays unbelievably fucking hard. They come prepared, they play balls out and it's a joy to watch. CJ Spiller was playing on one good leg and still broke defenders' ankles throughout the game. Fred Jackson remained a work horse and constantly broke tackles against a highly rated defense. Marquise Goodwin amazed us with his speed, again, as he continues to creep up the depth chart. The defense was as sturdy as they've been all season, arguably. And Jeff Tuel, well... he was ok.
And that's where the season remains an overwhelming positive, while at the same time requiring overwhelming patience from a fan base jumping out of its shoes with excitement at the prospect of cheering for a winner once again.
Jeff Tuel, of whom we all expected so little, played well. He was a disaster on the pick 6, and was pretty bad at other times with overthrown balls and missed open targets, but he was ok. More to the point, he was exceedingly better than advertised and feared. Playing within an offensive system built to move the ball by runs and passes, while giving the quarterback the option to make reads at the line and exploit defensive schemes, Jeff Tuel was pretty successful and, even accounting for the two interceptions, outplayed Alex Smith on the other side of the ball. Tuel has been getting a lot of shit from fans over the past 22 hours, and most of it is deserved, but to lose sight of the good things he did is to lose sight of the complete disaster that reasonable thinking fans were expecting from him.
Tuel's game yesterday, mistakes included, was the kind of surprise we've gotten used to with this season's Bills team. Players generally playing above our expectations, sometimes exceeding even the most homer of Bills fans' hopes for their play. Mario Williams. Leodis. Robey. Lawson. Aaron Williams. Bobby Woods. Kiko. Goodwin. Choice. Marcus Easley. FRANK FUCKING SUMMERS. CJ and Freddie. Even TJ Graham sometimes (but not really, let's be honest). This is a team of overachievers - players who've been representing the franchise well on the field, working hard for a full 60 minutes, and putting together a Buffalo Bills product that is remarkable.
And that's why we love them after Week 9 - after the sixth loss of the year - because they're showing us something to remark upon; something we haven't seen in a long fucking while. Sure, they're losing just as "same old Bills" have lost year after year, but we can see and know and love the difference, right?
I'm still all in, bitches. Go Bills.