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Bills, Bright Lights Still a Match Made in Hell

On Sunday or Monday, or even Thursday nights, it’s as if the rest of the world stops. No matter who you are a fan of, whether you like either team playing, it’s a night game and you just can’t fight it. Because no matter how hard you try, the remote will always bring you back to the game. Every first down is bigger. Every mistake is more scrutinized. Family and friends are there and you want to perform well. But for the Buffalo Bills, playing at night under the prime time spotlight has been nothing more than repetitive failure, each failure magnified more than the previous failure.

This past Thursday night was unfortunately much of the same for the Bills under the bright lights. Sadly it’s nothing new, nothing we’re not already accustomed to. If for some reason you’re in need of a crushing, season-changing-for-the-worst loss at night, contact the Bills. They’ll be sure to point you in the right direction.

The Monday Night collapses against Dallas, Cleveland, and New England. There was that beauty of a Sunday Night trouncing at home, 56-10, during New England’s beatdown tour in 2007. There was even an early Christmas present back in 2005 on a Saturday Night against Denver when the Bills were typically in the midst of another free fall. Buffalo lost to the Broncos 28-17, making the Bills losers of five in a row and seven of eight. In ’05, the Bills were plagued by quarterbacking issues and doomed by self inflicted penalties and mistakes. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Then there was this past Thursday night, arguably with the Bills at one of their biggest crossroads in franchise history. And the boys in red and blue laid another egg. This time it was twice as bad. It was a nationally televised game (OK, well for those with NFL Network anyways, but you get the idea) and it was the second game in a five-part series played in Toronto designed to keep the Bills in Western New York rather than losing the franchise to Canada altogether.

If it hasn’t sunken in yet or if you think I’m just blowing a lot of sunshine in places where you don’t get a lot of sunshine I’m not; there is still far too much left to play for Buffalo. The Bills are in search of a new head coach and hopefully some brand new personnel people to help clean up the mess in the front office. Every week it’s a chance to impress potential prospects, and with a night game in prime time, there’s no better place to shine. Instead, however, it was as if Buffalo gave any and all potential future head coaches every reason in the book to steer clear of One Bills Drive.

At night, the losses seem a lot worse. The next morning seems extra crummy, the coffee tastes bitter. Even the way the cashier hands you your change at the local grocery store gets on your nerves. No, the Bills got the weekend off to bad start. And their problems they’ve endured all season were on full blast under the bright lights.

The defense gave up 249 yards rushing; in two games against the Jets this season, the Bills have allowed the Jets to rush for 567 yards. The offense might as well have not even passed through customs. The Bills managed 4 first downs and less than 50 yards of total offense in the second half. Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t resemble Superman anymore, and come to think of it he didn’t look like Clark Kent either. Fitzpatrick completed only 9 of 23 passes for 98 yards. Terrell Owens was shadowed by Darrelle Revis and managed just three catches. The Jets had the ball for 35:10. The Bills, in typical lousy Bills fashion, were terrible on third downs converting 1 of 11.

This was a setback for Perry Fewell, the luster of the win over Miami wiped completely away by New York. I wrote in the days leading up to the game that Rex Ryan and the Jets would play with vengeful eyes and sometimes I hate being right. The Jets were the better team in the every way and they played as if the loss to the Bills in overtime back in October might as well have happened the previous day. They hit better. They caught better. They tackled better. They drank water better. You get the idea.

There’s no use crying foul because it was the same circumstance a year ago, but I for one sure hope it changes, and soon. The Bills exchanged cold, dreary and unfriendly Orchard Park weather in December for a climate controlled even playing field in Rogers Centre. If I’m Fewell, I know I’ve got to be politically correct in the media, but deep down I’m ticked off having to play an AFC East foe on neutral territory instead of at Ralph Wilson Stadium. I’d probably be more ticked my defense can’t stop the run and the Jets have nearly rushed for 600 yards in two games this season. Note to Bills: if they can tackle and stop the run, they better be on the draft board come April.

Given the chance to show off to prospective onlookers, once again the Bills made us hide our eyes. Maybe the bright lights are too bright for this group. After all, I can only think of 3 names who have actually experienced winning at night: Terrell Owens, Marcus Stroud and Geoff Hangartner. Maybe the NFL schedule makers knew what they were doing, giving the Bills just 2 prime time games this season. I thought adding Terrell Owens would’ve given Buffalo 3 games for sure. Now, I’m glad they didn’t.

The evidence presents itself: if the Bills can’t win in prime time, then we shouldn’t expect to land a prime time coaching candidate or prime time front office personnel. You shouldn’t be surprised if Mike Shanahan or Bill Cowher pass on coming to Buffalo. I know I won’t.

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