There is always a landing.
No matter how high you jump, gravity always brings you back down. How much you prepare for that descent determines the landing, but it always comes.
Sunday afternoon could have been the crash back to earth. The Bills struggled to stop the run in the first half and lacked the fast start they had in Kansas City. Jamaal Charles went down with an injury and the score got uneven in Detroit as well.
The hindsight was inevitable. Maybe it was the Cheifs who were just that bad. (They are.) Maybe the Bills aren’t that good. (They aren’t.) Maybe Oakland really is a good football team. (Nope.)
Then Fred Jackson started running and C.J. Spiller, for once, followed suit. Fitzpatrick made better reads and Steve Johnson got involved on offense. All the things you secretly liked about the team came to life, and the scoreboard evened itself out with plenty of time left to make a game of it.
The fourth quarter was the roller coaster you forgot the amusement park still owned. Five lead changes and big plays that made all 60 minutes of a Bills home game count for once. The defense bent, then broke. Then Oakland broke back. For a while it just felt good to enjoy the proceedings for once, but soon it was clear the game was within reach. Just having fun wouldn’t be enough. It never really is.
Throwing a pass on fourth down takes guts. Having the confidence to let your fortunes ride with that ball is a terrifyingly intriguing concept. A ball hitting the turf is the crash back to earth, the incomplete completion of flight.
But it didn’t fall. Twice a Harvard graduate made fans gasp for air in the final minutes, only to find a receiver’s waiting hands keeping the team aloft. The second throw stood in the end, and one final leap from Da’Norris Searcy brought raised hands and spirits back to Orchard Park once more.
The fall to earth still looms. It may come soon, violently, and at the hands of a familiar foe next Sunday. But there is something about flight itself that keeps us going. Between the rise and fall is something perfect, a moment that makes the landing worth the effort.
Sunday may have been the apex, but it’s hard to know when you can’t see the ground.