Every Monday* I try my very best to write a rational recap of the latest Buffalo Bills game. For last week’s recap, CLICK HERE!
*Except the bye week and the Thursday night NFL network shit show against the Cleveland Browns.
Last week, after the Bills lost to the Patriots in heartbreaking fashion, I decided to cool down before I wrote about the game. I was concerned that what I would write would end up reading like the rantings and ravings of a madman. This week after the Bills beat the Panthers, I decided to cool down as well, despite the fact the Buffalo Bills didn’t screw up.
Why you ask?
Well, I think my column would have sounded too much like Humbert Humbert’s obsessive manuscript. Realizing this, I decided to speak to my friends who weren’t having good NFL-related days.
Hearing about their misery gave me the perspective I needed to avoid getting too excited about one win against a talented team with an inferior coaching staff (yes, I just said inferior coaching staff). What came out was a perfectly rational and reasonable recap of the week 2 showdown between the Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers.
Despite their rookie quarterback’s struggles, the Buffalo Bills beat the Panthers on a last-second touchdown from EJ Manuel to Stevie Johnson. Manuel’s heroics were instrumental in completing the game winning drive. However, that was the first touchdown of the game for Manuel. The real hero of the game was the Buffalo Bills defense.
The Buffalo Bills defense kept the Panthers to two field goals on two 4th quarter turnovers. (care of EJ Manuel’s fumble and interception). Despite having to defend the Panthers deep in their own zone on both possessions, the Panthers failed to capitalize, largely because of the Bills multi-faceted defense.
The pass rush was the most obvious strongpoint of the defense, largely due to the day’s standout performer Mario Williams. Since last season, fans calling into WGR550 have criticized Williams for not living up to his 100 million dollar contract and what was a perceived lack of effort. But after 4.5 sacks (a personal and team record) in one game, moron fans will have far less to gripe about. Hopefully there will be no questioning his motivation moving forward–Williams was on Newton’s jock all day, as if Newton was hiding his engagement ring.
Beyond the pass rush, the Bills showed an impressive ability to contain the Panthers running game. In particular, Cam Newton’s scrambling ability was kept in check, despite the fact that the Bills were blitzing Newton throughout the game. The defensive scheme the Bills designed ensured that their would be coverage once Newton escaped the pocket. As a result, Newton rushed for a paltry 15-yards.
Thanks to the strong performance of the defense, the Bills still had a chance at the end of the game. It was almost all for naught because of the EJ Manuel’s turnovers–a fumble and an interception in the 4th quarter.
Driving down with 1:38 left in the game, EJ Manuel completed several dump-off passes to his receivers and running backs eventually getting to the Carolina 31. After 5 safe passes, Manuel decided to take a shot downfield and was intercepted by Colin Jones. Or, so we thought.
The interception was called back on a pass interference call on the “great white hope” Luke Kuechly. Seeing that he had no chance covering Stevie Johnson–despite the fact that he apparently has coverage skills, according to scouts–Kuechly grabbed him hard enough for the referee to notice. The penalty set the Bills up at the Panthers 11.
After a scramble by Manuel that stopped the clock and got the Bills set-up at the 2-yard line. With only a few seconds left on the clock, Manuel was definitely going to have to find the end zone on the next play. And, that he did. In what amounted to a hilarious play call, EJ Manuel soft-tossed a baby-of-a-football to a wide-open Stevie Johnson in the left corner of the endzone.
What exactly made the play hilarious? Well, the fact that Chris Hogan, who has yet to catch a pass, or actually even get targeted for one this season, managed to distract Panthers defenders enough to get Stevie Johnson wide open. This is the same Stevie Johnson who has had three 1,000 yard seasons in a row, compared to Hogan who has gained 0 yards from scrimmage in his career.
I believe Stevie Johnson said it best in his post-game press conference: “With Hogan in there, you gotta respect it,” he said trying to contain his laughter, “When he come underneath, you better jump on 7-11.”
After the Buffalo Bills game, I turned on the Broncos/Giants game to take my mind off the big win. After the Manning’s played a spirited round of smacked bottom, I tried to start writing this post. But there was a problem. There was no darkness fueled rambling manifesto in sight. Nor, was I producing writing that was akin to a
poor man’s homeless man’s rendition of Nabokov. The problem was that everything I was writing actually sounded a little too much like a fan letter to Justin Beiber.
“HC Doug Marrone OMG LOVES HIM. STEVIE i HEART YOU. GIVE EJ A BJ.” (Ed. Note: Slight paraphrase.)
What I’m trying to say is this: It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about avoiding sounding like a Belieber.
To see EJ Manuel shirtless, click here.