Bills report card: Buffalo wastes spectacular defensive effort against aging Tom Brady – Democrat & Chronicle

Bills report card: Buffalo wastes spectacular defensive effort against aging Tom Brady - Democrat & Chronicle
Buffalo Bills host a wedding at halftime and a loss to the Patriots
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Josh Allen reacts after throwing an interception during the second half against the New England Patriots at New Era Field on Sept. 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, New York.

The pair entered a contest billed as the wedding of a lifetime. They – and Im using this word advisedly – won.

They motioned the guy over and quick-snapped, Hyde said, referring to Meyers. We feel like we have a chance whenever we can get Tom outside the pocket. He was rolling a little bit. My guy was in the flat. I had him blanketed so I knew that he wasnt going to throw to him. I saw his eyes going back to whoever else. I dont know who he was trying to throw to or what the route was but I tried to come off and make a play.

Former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly walked the bride down the aisle. Former lineman Kyle Williams officiated. Team co-owner Kim Pegula came out and gave the couple free Super Bowl tickets (which seemed to excite them a lot more than the wedding).

It was incredibly tacky, bizarrely touching and a journo sitting a few seats down from us in the press box yelled, I am NOT crying when she was.

Even a few weeks ago, asking someone to marry you at a Bills game would be the sports metaphoric equivalent of suggesting, say, the morgue. Or a slaughterhouse.

We talked about it before the game, Pats coach Bill Belichick said. We had good field position, theyre backed up, and they didnt bring the gunners back in. So we just brought them off the edge. I think they started bringing them back in after that.

They did lose on Sunday. But this was Tom Brady and it was close. Buffalo even had the second-half momentum until its new cult hero, quarterback Josh Allen, had his bell cracked at midfield. His backup was (checking the stats line) terrible. It ended 16-10.

Bills cornerback Kevin Johnson was the gunner on the far left of the punt formation. New Englands J.C. Jackson, the man lined up to block Johnson down the field, left his outside position and ran to a punt-rush position across from the Bills left tackle spot.

So, if not amazing, not bad. Perfectly acceptable against what has been and still might be the greatest NFL outfit in history.

I felt like I had some good separation on the DB, Jones said. I broke across his face. Ill have to watch the film to see what was happening. As the ball was in the air, Im having to slow back down to it and my momentums carrying me one way.

The Bills are 3-1 on the season, and it was the one loss, rather than any of the wins, that may have convinced you they are for real.

We have to get back to work. Try to do a lot better than that, Brady said afterward, sounding relieved. Nearly grateful.

Actually, the Pats had 10 rush men against eight Bills blockers. The Pats wide man on the other side of the field, Jonathan Jones, also rushed, just a bit more delayed than Jackson. That left Bills gunner Siran Neal, on the far right, uncovered.

For a long time now, even if you know nothing about football and have never watched the NFL, you have known the Bills are the worst. For one generation, they are visual shorthand for the choke. For the next, they represent a special kind of sports hopelessness that is beyond losing. The Bills represent total surrender.

How little have the Bills mattered lately? They still have O.J. Simpsons name up on their Wall of Fame and no one has bothered to boycott them.

4. Off balance. Allens second interception was a throw off his back foot 40 yards downfield for Zay Jones. J.C. Jackson picked off the underthrow at the Buffalo 10. Maybe Jones could have deflected it. Call it 90%  Allens fault.

How bad has it been to be a Buffalo Bill at any point during the past two decades? One of Bills head coaches quit to take a job as an offensive-line coach. In Jacksonville, Fla.

For the entirety of this century, this team has been known for two things – failing badly at jumping through folding tables and failing badly at football.

In the 1990s, when things were rolling, Ontario was home to every Johnny-come-lately, front-running Bills fan on Earth. Just about every single one of them began abandoning the team 10 seconds after the ball went wide right. Most have spent the intervening years pretending the nineties didnt happen.

A few years later, as the team foundered, Toronto began wooing the team. It invited the Bills up for a visit every year. Although every one of those visits was an unmitigated disaster, it started flirting with the idea of making that arrangement permanent.

Said Matthew Slater, who picked up the blocked punt and scored the touchdown: My eyes were huge! You dream of being able to score as a kid. At 34 years old, and Im still a kid, so I can dream.

When it came out that Jon Bon Jovi was the prime mover behind the incipient Toronto bid for the team, that concentrated minds.

Because it would be one thing to lose your NFL team. It would be quite another to lose it to a man who thinks a 50-year-old can wear leather chaps.

Buffalos Patrick DiMarco was left trying to block two rushers coming off left tackle – Brandon Bolden to his inside and Jackson to his outside. It was an impossible task.

Now that its (relative) boom times in B-Town, the energy around the field feels a little different. Just as hyped up, but with less of a Mad Max meets Leaving Las Vegas vibe than it had in the past.

2. The INT that kept Bills alive. The play of the game for the Bills was the end zone interception by safety Micah Hyde that thwarted a 16-play, 93-yard New England drive.

At 10 a.m. on Sunday, the parking lot was already boozier than Fleet Week, but it was a fun drunk. Lots of kids and families.

Hyde was in man coverage on receiver Jakobi Meyers along the far right sideline when Tom Brady was flushed out of the pocket to the right by Jerry Hughes.

The aspiration of the fancy dress is all-world. Its funny how the more macho the sport, the more camp it is as well. Something about safe spaces, one supposes.

I dont want to get into much, said Bills coach Sean McDermott. We do play them again, so just poor execution on our part.

I watched one guy walk in face paint, cape, enough Mardi Gras beads to sink a raft and – the piece de resistance – a gigantic, quite clearly handmade Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes fur hat. He sat down, primly placed the hat between his feet and put on a Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes headband, complete with horns.

The team took longer than the crowd to settle. New England went up 13-0 early. The Pats were a few feet from making it 20-zip. But then the tide shifted.

1. Special teams touchdown. Give the Patriots credit for noticing a weakness in the Bills punt protection and scheming up a block.

Brady has won more games in Buffalo over the past 18 years than any Bills quarterback. Let that one wash over you. Buffalo has for a long time.

The Patriots blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown proved to be the decisive score in the Bills 16-10 loss.

But, by Bradys standard, he was fully contained on Sunday. The Buffalo defence was stiff. The offence was varied and occasionally efficient. No one did anything incredibly stupid.

Brady was looking to the back of the end zone for Julian Edelman when Hyde abandoned Meyers and undercut Bradys throw.

Buffalo looked like a team that, were you to see it in the postseason, youd think, Id prefer not to play against it.

On the long list of reasons why Belichick is the greatest coach of all time is his special-teams record.

The Bills havent won a playoff game since Bill Clinton was U.S. president. Think about how long ago that feels. So this is a change. Its fun to see all that civic pining finally rewarded with competence.

An hour after the game ended, the couple whod married were back on the field. The groom was throwing the bride passes into the end zone (she remained in a wedding gown and heels; he was doing her no favours with leading passes; she caught more than a few).

Everyone sat there grinning goofily as they watched them, and not one person thought to make a joke about signing them up.

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