Steelers 19, Bills 16 in OT. Sigh….
Well, once again, the Bills lose but they do it in such a way that leaves a weird sense of potential optimism for the team’s future. Usually when a team gets really bad and has to start rebuilding, they go through a progression of phases. First they’re the bad team that everybody wants to play, because they’re terrible and an easy win. (This year, the Carolina Panthers seem to be fitting that role.) But there’s a phase that sometimes gets overlooked, and that’s when you’re the bad team that nobody wants to play. That’s the Bills this year. Their record is awful and they’re still on pace for a pick in the top five of the draft, but damn, they work so hard and play so hard and they just don’t make it easy for anybody to beat them.
But they usually get beaten anyway. That’s because, right now, the Bills’ level of talent just does not match up to their level of heart. When it does, look out. But for now, it’s one painful loss after another.
The main goat today is apparently Stevie Johnson, the Bills’ certifiably “great story” of the year — the seventh-round pick who has blossomed in this, his third year, as he puts on fine receiving display after fine receiving display. But today, in overtime, he was wide open for a long pass, a 40-yarder, that Ryan Fitzpatrick put right in his hands as he entered the end zone. He catches that pass, the game ends right there, 22-16 Bills. Instead, Johnson drops the pass, and then just sits on the ground, in stunned disbelief. It was a clutch situation, and he dropped the ball.
Now, Johnson still has a ton of talent, he’s still having a great year, and he’s still a young player who can learn a valuable lesson here about what it means to be really clutch. And I hope all that happens, because you can’t be considered a great receiver if you drop that pass. (For my money, the worse gaffe was Leodis McKelvin’s fumbled punt return in OT. The Bills recovered the ball, but they lost about twenty yards on the fumble. Those yards might have been the difference between the drive ending in another punt and the drive ending in a field goal attempt. Oh well.
Anyway, the Bills came close to knocking off one of the NFL’s best teams. But instead, once again, it’s Pie Time for Bills fans!