I am very happy to see that the Bills didn't completely embarrass themselves yesterday. And apparently J.P. Losman is finally making some strides, ending the game going 13-for-13 passing. He started off slow but had a decent second half, including a couple of time-consuming drives. I didn't actually see the game, so maybe they did look like crap (and I'm soooo pissed I didn't DVR it) but at least the defense didn't allow any points in the second half and they only lost by one. Besides, it is pre-season after all.
I'm actually just happy to see that J.P. can actually get the offense into some kind of a rhythm, and controlling the ball in the second half is a good sign. I am more interested in evaluating the talent rather than the final score.
Bottom line: It's football season baby! And I'm finally getting excited about it! Finally seeing those red helmets made it kick in for me. I've gone without football for so long that I forgot how excited I get about it. For the first time in a while, I have not had that much anticipation for this season, but it's hitting me now.
Perhaps to exorcise the demons of the past, I am going to present the five most heartbreaking moments in Bills history from 1988 to present. I have narrowed this down from the thousands-upon-thousands from which to choose, and these are the ones that either made me cry, made me break something, or made me physically ill.
#5. Black Monday. This was the day in 2000 that the late John Butler, who was their General Manager at the time, released three Hall of Fame players -- Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith -- on the same day. These three players were the symbols of the Super Bowl years, and Butler just dropped 'em. Thurman found out about it on the news; they didn't even call him to tell him. One might say that the franchise has been on a downswing every since. You don't just drop the heart of your team like that.
#4. 1988 AFC Championship Game. This is my favorite Bills team of all time. They were 12-4 that year and would have had home field advantage throughout the playoffs (they were 8-0 at home that year) if they had won their last regular season game against the Colts. In fact, I'm tempted to say that the Colts game was actually the heartbreaker, since it cost them home field advantage.
Anyway, the Bills were so good that year. It was the year the tore the goalposts down when they won the division, and they were just great to watch. They had the #1 defense in the AFC -- the Blizzard Defense -- and all their great players were coming into their prime. So they won their first playoff game against the Oilers on New Years Day and then went to Cincinnati and just got beat up. Cincinnati's no-huddle offense was pretty potent that year but they were a bunch of assholes. I really hated that Bengals team. Douchebag David Fulcher, illiterate James Brooks, cheater Cris Collinsworth (oh yeah, he cheated in that game), flash-in-the-pan Ickey Woods. I hate them all. The Bills were so close that year and boy did that game hurt.
#3. Ronnie Harmon drops the ball. In the 1989 Playoffs the Bills were playing the Browns in Cleveland. This was the year of the "Bickering Bills," where two assistant coaches got into a fist-fight and Jim Kelly and receiver Chris Burkett got into a fight on the sidelines in front of cameras on Monday Night Football. Oh, and Thurman Thomas called Jim Kelly out on TV about being a leader and to stop pointing fingers.
So this game was really hard fought, and both teams were just trading touchdowns back and forth. Thurman had a huge game, with 13 catches and two touchdowns. But a missed extra point put them down by 4 instead of 3 points, which means they had to go for a touchdown. Late in the 4th quarter, Jim Kelly (who threw for 405 yards and 4 TD's) threw a perfect pass in the back of the end zone to Ronnie Harmon. But Ronnie dropped it. It was sickening, and a very cruel introduction to the decade of the 1990s.
#2. Super Bowl XXV. Norwood, wide right. Read about it here. I don't want to talk about it.
#1. The Music City Miracle OR The Immaculate Deception.
This is one of the most disputed plays in football history. End of the game, Bills march down the field to score what appears to be the winning field goal. Bills kick off with like a minute left, and the Tennessee Titans call a play called "Homerun Throwback," which entails a lateral throw from Frank Wycheck to Kevin Dyson. The ball is thrown from the middle of the field toward the sideline, the Bills are all caught out of their lanes and running toward the middle, and Dyson flies down the sideline for the touchdown.
You can watch the original broadcast here:
A few things about this game. First of all, it was 10 years almost to the day after Ronnie Harmon's dropped pass (see #3 above). And I have never felt more sick to my stomach after a sporting event. I remember that I was watching the game at Javen's Midler Ave house, and when the Bills scored that field goal, I was ecstatic. And when the Titans ran it back, I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach and then ripped my heart out of my chest. No single sporting event in my life hurt that much. I remember after the game ended, I just kind of left and got in my car and went home. I was in such a daze. I think I drove around the neighborhood for about an hour, just trying to make sense of it. I'll never forget it.
The other thing is that -- and I don't care what anyone says about this -- IT WAS A FORWARD PASS, which made it an illegal play. I will go to my grave with that knowledge. And if people can't admit that much, can't they at least acknowledge the possibility that it was a forward pass? I remember shortly after the game, the scourge of Western New York, Paul Maguire, said something like "there is no disputing it was a legal play." I don't think anyone would say there is no disputing it. I have wanted to put a knife in Maguire's face ever since. Wade Phillips was so stupid.
So goes the list of heartbreak. Let's hope we can avoid it this year, boys.