Well I'll be fucking damned. I slept off some Pabst and the wonderful emotion of a road, divisional win and, yep, I'm a touch hungover but still fucking amped at what we all saw yesterday. Well, not quite all of us. Some of us turned it off sometime late third early fourth quarter because, well, there really is no reason to believe that this team will win a close game. Those of us in this category are stupid, jaded assholes since, these days, there's also really no reason to believe they'll lose a close game either. Predictions are thrown out the window with Jerry Sullivan's racist testicles - legit, they're a three (three??) person hate group as per the Southern Poverty Law Center, read a book or something - and we have yet another game to show that this team can not only hang with the league's supposed best, but are capable of surprising some of those squads along the way.
Going into New Orleans next week, even if there is no reasonable hope that the Bills can pull a win out of their collective asses, this team has firmly established itself as a squad able to put together a decent game of football every week, regardless of their opponent, and keep their fans glued to the TV wondering which way the result might go.
This is fun as hell.
Things that were pretty fucking great:
1. MariofuckingWilliams. That feeling we have now? That's what we expected/hoped for last season when Mario was signed, but the guy got hurt and no one believed him because we're GD morons, and now we're seeing why he got paid.
After setting the franchise record for most sacks in a game Week 2, his stat line has been quieter, obviously, but he's remained a consistent presence on the defensive line and has done plenty to pressure QBs every game. He gets double teamed often, he gets held nearly every play, and he has bounced back from last season's wrist injury to be a consistently effective impact player for a defense that has been inconsistent throughout.
The benefit of a game like Mario had yesterday, beyond the fact that he was integral in the win with the late sack/forced fumble and one other sack, is that it shoved aside the notion that Mario is not good for the Bills. Yesterday's performance - even more so than Week 2 because of the opponent, the venue and the timing of his biggest play - should put to rest all notions that he is (a) not good, because come the fuck on, (b) lazy, because come the fuck on!, (c) has a bad attitude, because come the fuck on that's probably racist, and (d) overpaid because come the fuck on it's not your fucking money and this team never spends to the cap, Jesus.
Indeed, it was the kind of game that would convince a reputable, honest journalist who had previously questioned Mario's place on the team for any of the above refuted reasons, or others, to step up and correct the record; to admit he was wrong and say "yeah I thought he was no good and thought there 'was always something with him' that made it seem like he brought more bad to the team than good, but he's proving otherwise, my bad." The need for that kind of conciliatory statement was all the more appropriate for a guy like Jerry Sullivan, noted Mario Williams detractor and vile human being, who got a LOT of attention after, about halfway through the game, making some comment about how invisible Mario had been in a game where he had been a consistent threat. Almost as if he was spiting Sully for his bizarre expression of unjustified animosity in the form of feigned logical criticism, Mario proceeded to step it up a notch and make Ryan Tannehill his bitch. It was tremendous.
I was curious what kind of story Sully would write after such a dominating performance - after all, he gave Mario Williams' 4.5 sacks barely any notice in his admittedly positive piece about the Week 2 win, using his words instead to talk about EJ and his dad. But after yesterday? The story had to be about Mario. He got the ball back for the team when it needed it, he provided pressure on the quarterback throughout the game, and he now has 10 sacks through 7 games - a feat only achieved by 17 other NFL players since 1982, the first year sacks were counted as a statistical category.
So, Sully's story was about Mario, right? About how he's only 9 sacks away, with 9 games remaining, from tying the franchise record for sacks in a season, right?
The story mentioned Mario once, if you're curious. A simple mention of the late sack/strip. No praise. No commentary. A statement of fact about the player that put the game back into his team's hands. Even TBN's poor-quality, riddled with weird static video commentary, when coming to the subject of Mario, had Sully laughing and brushing it aside in a moment of pure intellectual cowardice and embarrassment.
I LOVE Freddy. But, get the fuck out of here. You're reaching for reasons to avoid having to admit you were wrong. You made the story about you and your gut about the player when Williams was having a tough time on the field and off - lauding your own opinion about out-of-context texts and a pretty sad breakup, for instance - and created a narrative that was oft repeated by the meatheads I call fellow fans, but now that Mario's turned the corner in an extremely definitive way, proving to us all that he's the real fucking deal, your opinions are nowhere to be found. Man the fuck up, you inveterate pussy. Write the story you need to write and be done with it.
Or don't, whatever. If I get to call you an inveterate pussy again, I won't mind.
But since we're on the topic of the banged up running back who played with massive grit...
2. Fred Jackson. Dude was hurt TWICE during the game, the first time sending twitter into a hilarious frenzy of pretend medical diagnostics, many tweeters opining on the nature of the injury and the length of time Fred would be out and the degree to which we were all pissing our pants in fear at what the game would look like with Thad Lewis handing the ball off to Tashard Choice for 3+ quarters and whether it would be more or less depressing than watching Jeff Tuel be Jeff Tuel. But then suddenly Fred was walking and refusing the cart and then playing again and basically sealing the victory with a huge first down late in the 4th. His interview on WGR this morning was great, revealing how much he really gets it and understands his role in being a leader on the team and picking up the slack with CJ Spiller sidelined with his ankle injury. To hear that Fred spoke to Mario before the second to last Dolphins drive and told Mario to just do what he does best, man. People are talking Wall of Fame for FredEx and maybe they're right, I don't know, he's certainly more deserving than at least one or two names up there, but in the meantime let's just enjoy this amazing player and keep hoping he'll give us more reasons to toss him up there with Jimbo and Thurman and Bruce and the others.
3. Doug Marrone et al. I don't know who was making decisions about clock management and field goals late - I assume and hope it was Marrone, but man. They played this right, trusted their guys on the field to do their jobs well, and got the team to a place where it could kill clock, take a slim lead and trust in the limitations of physics and time to do the rest of the work. The field goal to go within 1 point, trailing 21-20, could have been infuriating if Marrone et al. hadn't been absolutely right to have confidence in their defense to get a stop and confidence in the offense to get those last 3 points. Sure, if it had gone the other way, we'd be livid today and the rest of the week... but it didn't. That's what matters. They played the odds, minimized plays with the tendency for mistakes, and trusted the players on the field to make the late decisions look genius. The Bills are not a good team yet, but playing out a game the way they did yesterday is what good teams can do.
These are our Bills. Quite imperfect, but 3-4 and utterly capable of going into New Orleans and hanging around for the whole game. We're almost to the halfway point of the season and I don't feel close to skipping a game yet, and I doubt most of you do either. This is progress. This is undeniably pretty good. Weirdly and for a variety of significant and cumulative reasons, this is developing into a new standard of Bills football.
Let's go Buffalo.