The Bleached-Out, Fiery Crash Back to Earth

by Ryan

I wasn’t alive when the Challenger Space Shuttle blew up. My parents weren’t alive when the Hindenburg went down. Always start with facts.

What we watched in Orchard Park on Sunday afternoon was bound to happen, really. The Bills had navigated the 2011 campaign without getting truly outclassed by an opponent. It didn’t happen in Cincinnati or at the Meadowlands, but it happened against the New York Jets at the Ralph. The score was 27-11 and it felt much worse.

The looming dread of the Bills falling back to earth was hard to ignore this week. The Bills were bound to fail at some point, why not at home against a division rival? Forget the records and white jerseys and gimicks, Buffalo needed a strong defensive performance and answers on offense against Rex Ryan’s defense.

They got the former, but the latter came far too late.

There are good reasons why the Bills are 5-3 right now. They’ve made mistakes late on the road and it’s cost them twice. Their third loss is startling in that it offers a new kind of failure for the team this season, something that echoes so much of the failure the team has experienced over the last decade.

Out-coached, outplayed and over-matched; Buffalo just wasn’t good enough this week and it probably won’t be the last time that’s the case this season.

Something new doesn’t have to be surprising, though. The expectations for this team have risen with every win and many will point to this loss as proof the Bills just don’t have what it takes to be a great team. They’re probably right, but the Bills can only fix the things they can control.

There is no excuse for being out-coached. Chan Gailey has proven himself an intelligent playcaller that can plan to the strengths of his personnel on offense. If the Bills are going anywhere this season, that needs to continue. The Bills have found ways to compensate for their flaws against good teams this season. Most notably, the Patriots. Wins like that are rare, and the cumulative failures against the Jets show just how easy it is to get embarrassed in the AFC East.

Few Bills fans had their eyes set on a division title in August but, as the league hit the turn this season, there it is up for grabs. That’s something to build on, I guess.

Just like Sunday is something to shake off.