I'll make this quick because I'm pretty drained after yesterday and I'm also going on about 4 hours sleep. So, here it goes…
It was pretty ironic that prior to tailgating, most of the crew I was with thought the Bills were going to get pulverized. And with that, I thought to myself..What would be worse, if the Bills got their asses handed to them or they kept it close and lost in #becauseitsBuffalo kind of fashion? Most said keeping it close and why wouldn't you want that? If you keep it close against one of the best in the game, it is obvious progress, right? However, heartbreaks are what really leaves us the most drained after a loss like that. You are more angry if the Pats beat you by 30 than if you lose in the final seconds.
When you lose in the waiting seconds it is way more deflating because there are so many emotions you go through during the game. I had extreme highs during it and just some devastating lows during the course of the game. It is feels like Michael Corleone telling his family, "Just when I was out, they pulled me back in." You aren't vested into the game at first because you expect the worse. Then they keep it close and you turn from just hoping to keep it close to doubling up on wanting to win. That's why it sucks more when you lose like that.
Give the Bills credit, they played their asses off. I didn't think they had it in them. I was shocked how well their defense played. I mean, at one point in the 4th quarter Tom Brady had completed only 50% of his passes. When the hell was the last time I was excited about Leodis McKelvin on defense? How about EJ Manuel not barfing all over the field?
And yet..they lost.
It gets a little tiring having these moral victories against the Pats, doesn't it? I'd like to sit here and tell you we are going in the right direction and maybe they are…However, I've seen this movie before against NE. I remember before the opener against the Pats in 2006 and 2009, no one gave the Bills a shot in those games. Yet, when the final gun sounded, had Leodis not fumbled the kickoff or JP Losman didn't get sacked for a safety, the Bills would have won.
I remember the same narrative being written afterwards by fans and media…MORAL VICTORIES! They kept it close with the Pats and were this close to winning. Grey sky were going to clear up and the Bills were going to be on the right track. Oh, they got on track alright, as there was a locomotive heading towards them.
So, while there are things to build off here, I think it would be smart not to have some sort of epiphany in saying the Bills are going in the right or wrong direction. No one is an expert after week 1 of any NFL season. It is a very long season and dare I say I'm not sure if this is a stepping stone game or just another stepping stone that falls on our face. Playing the Pats tough has never been the hardest part for them, it is trying to build off those moral victories which has escaped them.
—I couldn't be more wrong about the Bills defense than yesterday. Yes, they gave up over 450 yards in total offense and at times couldn't get off the field. However, when you hold Brady to a QB rating of 76.4 and the only other times you did that against him was in 2009 and 2003, you have to give them credit. They were in Brady's face for the majority of the afternoon and the DBs looked great. Pettine's hype almost lived up to the lofty expectations. They showed a number of different looks with going 3-4 or 4-3 and disguised their blitz packages on numerous occasions. I know Mario Williams didn't get to Brady, but don't tell me he doesn't make the likes of Jerry Hughes look better because of his presence. Maybe my excitement has to do with me expecting the Pats to drop 40 on them and just the lowering of my expectations, but McKelvin, Rogers, Searcy and some guy named Robey looked good. Searcy was a fricken beast yesterday. I think if you don't have him covering and instead have him play close to the line of scrimmage most times, he can make some good plays.
—Fred Jackson will not die! I swear, when he runs and looks good doing it, you may not be able to find a happier fan than I. Yes, we can all act like CJ Spiller is the next OJ and 2,000 yards are coming to a theater near you. However, I still have a small part of my heart that is still dedicated to Fred. The underdog story and just the way he runs..HARD. He outplayed CJ yesterday, who seemed to try and kick too many runs to the outside, where NE defenders were waiting for him. Fred, on the other hand, was running hard between the tackles and he looked like vintage Jackson. So, don't kick dirt on Fred's grave yet. The guy still has game and he always brings his best against NE. In 8 out of his last 10 games against the Pats, Fred has gained over 100 yards in total offense.
—EJ Manuel played a great game for a rookie. Yes, my expectations will always have the asterisk of being a rookie next to it, but 2TDs and a 67% percent completion percentage? You take that for a debut. He showed a lot of poise and didn't try forcing too many throws. I mean, he had a better debut than Wilson and Luck did last year. In fact, I kind of wish the Bills would have gone more through the air than trying to run CJ into a brick wall.
—Mad props to the Bills for playing the Flash Gordon theme whenever Marquise Goodwin is set to return a kickoff. Too bad kickoff returns never seem to happen anymore. BTW, I was shocked to say I didn't see any punches thrown or shitty Pats fans ruining the day. Everyone seemed on their best behavior.
—I'll make this quick: I'm totally fine with the Bills being aggressive and going no-huddle on their last drive. Everyone and their mother knew that when the score was 21-17, the Bills were going to have to score more points. Everyone in the building knew that. You needed first downs, not an extra 30 seconds to kill the clock. The Pats were already slowing down and milking the clock with about 1:30 left because the defense couldn't stop them, so it wouldn't have mattered if we kept the ball for another 30 seconds. So, shut up and find another thing to argue about.
—I love Stevie and I'll probably have something later this week about his performance and no-show with the media, but that is a killer fricken drop. No excuses. Just awful on so many levels.
Final word: It sucks to lose but sometimes you just have to put things in perspective and realize the Bills are rebuilding. They aren't going 10-6 this season and sadly moral victories matter matter when you are rebuilding. Hopefully they will build off this valor effort and fix some of things that plagued them yesterday (Penalties, drops and CJ's ineffectiveness). I mean, hey…I'm picking them against Carolina and I wouldn't have done that 24 hours ago. Progress?