Great NFL wildcard weekend. Chiefs-Titans had so many storylines. Falcons-Rams pitted the defending conference champs against the exciting new blood. Panthers-Saints was the trilogy matchup between two divisional rivals.
But let’s be real: the most anticipated game of the weekend was Buffalo at Jacksonville. That wasn’t only the most anticipated game of the weekend, it may have been the most anticipated game of the season. Because it was the game nobody saw coming in September and everyone wanted to see in January.
The Super Bowl will have a hard time living up to the excitement of the Bills Mafia bringing their tables and their kegs down to Florida for Buffalo’s first playoff game in nearly two decades. And I wish I could tell you that the game itself lived up to the hype, but it didn’t. Unless you like two defenses just trading haymakers and a pair of offenses trying to figure out what the hell was happening. Blake Bortles and Tyrod Taylor were matching each other, crappy drive for crappy drive. About the only thing that either team had working on offense was LeSean McCoy, who battled like a stud for 119 yards from scrimmage on a bad wheel. That was a macho performance. Absolutely laid it on the line.
And speaking of Bills running backs – let me take a moment to acknowledge something – I am aware that there were photos circulating of some former Bill wearing a Bills jersey and posing with Bills fans. I don’t care. As always, just because I haven’t said anything about it doesn’t mean I don’t know about it and doesn’t mean I need you telling me about it. I haven’t said anything about it because it’s not relevant. I haven’t said anything about it because I don’t care about this guy. And haven’t since he got away with butchering those two people in cold blood. I’m aware that he was at the game. I just don’t care. So Keep moving.
And while the first half of yesterday’s clash of the titans didn’t live up to the hype, the final few minutes very nearly did. Down 10-3, the Bills got the ball back on their 37 with 1:51 left in the game. 63 yards separating them from a tie game. Find the magic here and they could advance. But on third down, Tyrod Taylor scrambled, took a huge shot, and then had his head bounce off the ground. It was a nasty moment and one that ended his day. And probably his career in Buffalo.
Then Nathan Peterman came in. And for a moment, it looked like we were going to have Peter-mania. Could you have imagined him coming off the bench on a 4th and 3 and then leading the team to tie the game and ultimately win it? For a moment, I could. Because with everyone covered, Peterman tucked it and ran. Well, ran is a stretch. More like he lumbered, but he picked up the first down and the Bills were back in business.
Then he hit Deonte Thompson for 14 yards and suddenly everyone in Bills gear was amped. And rightly so. Again, How incredible would it be for Peterman to lead this team to a game-tying score? Tie that game and you’re probably going to rip it? Rip that game and then there’s no doubt that you’re beating the Pats and Steelers and then you’re in Minnesota for the Super Bowl. Do you believe in miracles? For a moment, a lot of people did.
And then he threw the game-ending pick. Game over. Thanks for coming.
Regarding the play calling: easy for me to say; and no one likes a Monday Morning Quarterback, but first and goal, from the one in the second quarter… give the freaking ball to Shady.
If LeSean McCoy is your running back and Tyrod Taylor is your quarterback why are you calling a pass on first and goal from the one?! Is it any surprise that they were called for offensive P.I. and lost their only shot at a t.d. that day because of it?
Look, I’m not saying Taylor is the guy there. He’s not. Which I’ll get to in a minute. But he didn’t get much help. Not from his receivers who kept putting it on the ground and not from the play calling either. Calling for a pass on first and goal from the one, when you have McCoy is unfathomable. Of course, it came back to bite them in the ass.
As for you getting screwed by the refs on the Jalen Ramsey interception that ended the game, Bills Mafia: I can see how you feel that way. I can see why you’d want it overturned. And believe me, I wanted to see more Nate Peterman as much as the next guy, but there really wasn’t enough there to overturn. It wasn’t conclusive enough. And more to the point, that’s not the reason you lost the game.
A bigger reason you lost that game, was the play of your quarterback Tyrod Taylor. I’m not hanging it all on him. And it’s not all his fault. Far from it. But how the hell do you lose a playoff game when you limit the opposing q.b to 87 yards passing.
In part, because your own q.b isn’t that much better than the guy who threw for those 87. It was a great, Bills fan. It was great to see you back in the playoffs finally. But you can’t say you got jammed, because you didn’t. And you can’t say you didn’t have your chances because you did.