It probably is not a shocking revelation, but I am under 25 years old. This means my car insurance is high, and I don’t remember nearly enough about the Buffalo Bills’ four Super Bowl appearances.
Some people would consider this a good thing, but I hate the fact that I missed out on a significant part of the team’s history. There are clips and a few fuzzy memories, but very little about those four years has stayed with me as I’ve grown up. I’ve seen the NFL Films version of those four miserable football games, but nothing can compare to watching that kick sail wide in real time.
What I do remember, however, is the silence. I remember it from the car ride home after the last Super Bowl, and no matter how young I was I remember what it meant. Something terrible had happened, and we were supposed to be sad.
Since then I’ve encountered this silence countless times. On the couch, at the stadium, or on the car ride home. Game Five against Ottawa. Aaron Boone. The last two Monday Night games. My life as a sports fan has been marred with silences like this, and so I’ve become prepared for such moments. You can never really expect it to happen, but in the back of your mind you know it can.
Tonight my living room was filled with that silence, but none of us were Cardinals fans. Instead it was a half dozen Bills fans who knew exactly what Cardinals fans were feeling. It’s a special kind of sympathy, as only a few teams truly fit the model these days. Arizona was getting its first real taste of losing in the spotlight, and in the worst way possible.
You have to wonder if it would have been better for them to lose big. When the score hit 20-7 they could have just folded, placing this Super Bowl into the vast collection of blowout wins against inferior teams. After all, it’s Super Bowl XXV that fans remember most out of all those Bills games. Losing big would hurt, but it’s the getting close and falling short that hurts even more.
When Arizona did fight back, it was hard to remember that they could lose. If you were writing a movie, this was the part where the underdogs get a few bounces and win the game on the strength of their star. Larry Fitzgerald shook the Steelers defense and proved he is the best receiver on the planet. That catch on the fade route was absolutely phenomenal, and outrunning the entire Steelers defense on the second touchdown shows exactly what he’s capable of.
But there was time left, and we all know what happens to a team like Arizona when there’s time left.
The game was fantastic, and you have to be happy that Arizona made it exciting to the bitter end. Still, it’s hard to completely forget about how similar this felt to a Bills game. We all know the last time there was a safety in the Super Bowl, and the history a team like Arizona has puts both groups of fans in the same boat. Tonight the number of teams without a Super Bowl victory remains the same, but another team has had victory ripped away from them.
It’s hard to hate the game, but you sure do hate that silence sometimes.