By Mary Pesarchick // @HeyMom418
Bills 23 – Falcons 17
“You are about to enter another dimension.
A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.
A journey into a wondrous land of imagination…”
It began after the final second elapsed on the Bills 23-17 win over the (formerly) undefeated Atlanta Falcons. All around Western New York, a low murmur of voices were expressing wonderment. Disbelief. Excitement. Almost every caller to the local radio post-game shows began their comments with, “I know there’s a lot of the season left, but do you think…?” Or, “I know I shouldn’t be getting my hopes up yet, but…” Or, “The team wasn’t supposed to be any good this year. How do you explain…?”
It does feel as if we’ve entered the Twilight Zone. Staring at the AFC East standings, seeing the Buffalo Bills, 3-1, all alone at the top of the heap, is nothing if not surreal. The previous week’s win over the Denver Broncos was a terrific accomplishment for coach Sean McDermott’s team. But getting a win on the road, against last year’s NFC Champions is something else altogether.
The Bills secondary had another impressive performance, led by safety Micah Hyde, who intercepted quarterback Matt Ryan twice in the second half. Defensive end Jerry Hughes was a consistent presence in the Falcons’ backfield, and had another spectacular day. In the third quarter, Hughes hit Ryan as he was about to throw, knocking the ball from his hand. Cornerback Tre’Davious White, voted the NFL rookie defensive player for September, scooped it up and ran it back 52 yards for a touchdown.The play was reviewed and the touchdown was upheld, putting the Bills in the lead. The “bend, but don’t break” defense managed to contain Ryan for the rest of the game, limiting him to a below-average 242 passing yards. They also came up with a huge stop on 4th and 1 at the Bills’ 10 yard line with under a minute to play to clinch the win.
As for the offense, quarterback Tyrod Taylor had a efficient, yet unremarkable, day, going 12 of 20 for 182 yards and one touchdown. Running back LeSean McCoy continued to rebound from his dreadful production in the first two games of the season and accounted for 108 yards of total offense. Tight end Charles Clay was outstanding again, pulling in five catches for 112 yards, including a 44-yard reception.
And then there was kicker Stephen Hauschka. Oh, my. Hausch-Money connected on all three of his field goal attempts, including two from 50+ yards. He has now made 10 consecutive field goals from beyond 50 yards and is closing in on the record of 11 straight. His field goals, all in the 4th quarter, gave the Bills the points they needed to hang on to the win.
Without a doubt, the Bills had some help from the football gods. Both Falcons wide receivers, Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu left the game in the first half with injuries which significantly limited Ryan’s targets. And the two questionable rulings made by the refs, the White fumble return for a touchdown and Hyde’s second interception in the 4th quarter, went in the Bills favor. The fact that, not just one, but both calls went the Bills way gave fans reason to wonder if there wasn’t something supernatural about this season.
So, now, in the words of the immortal Bill Belichick, “We’re on to Cincinnati.” Unfortunately, the Bills sustained a few injuries of their own, most significantly to a member of their already perilously thin receiver corps. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews and backup linebacker Ramon Humber require thumb surgery and will be out for at least a month. Safety/Special Team player Colt Anderson will undergo surgery on his forearm and was placed on IR. Meanwhile, the Bengals, off to a slow start, have gained new momentum since replacing offensive coordinator, Ken Zampese with Bill Lazor, and beat the Browns handily 31-7 for their first win of the season.
If the Bills can get another road win, and a second one over an AFC opponent, whispers of the “P-word,” –playoffs– will undoubtedly get louder. They’ll enter their bye week at 4-1, and, since New England looks like they might be human after all, the Bills may be able to enjoy the view from atop the AFC East for at least couple more weeks.
Rod Serling couldn’t have written it better.
Talk Bills with Mary on Twitter // @HeyMom418