Bills reminded there’s still a step they must climb

The Bills Report

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 15: Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals is congratulated by Andy Isabella #17 after catching the game winning 43-yard touchdown over Micah Hyde #23, Jordan Poyer #21 and Tre’Davious White #27 of the Buffalo Bills during the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Bills 32-30. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Sometimes, you’re just on the wrong sideline when the miracle happens.

Sometimes, the other guy makes a great play and you have to tip your cap. They get paid, too.

I didn’t think the Bills did anything wrong on the game ending Hail Mary. I thought they played it just about as well as they could. DeAndre Hopkins is probably the best receiver in football and he made a “best receiver in football” play. He also had some physical advantages perfect to the situation. Cole Beasley was not surprised.

“He makes big plays and acrobatic catches. That’s just what he does,” Beasley said.

Micah Hyde said he did not time his jump properly. If he says so, fine. If his jump was wrong, it was wrong by inches. Al Pacino told us long ago football is a game of inches. I can live with that.

There were too many positives for the Bills to be erased by one bad finish.

Josh Allen engineered another amazing comeback. That touchdown throw to Stefon Diggs is as good as it gets. That’s a no debate, big boy, eyes wide open emoji, gutcheck throw on the road against a pretty good team. That’s the type of throw the legends make.

The Bills defense had long stretches of incredible play–the kind of play we saw from them the last two seasons. They smothered the Cardinals in the red zone before halftime (the 5th best red zone offense in the league). They created two more turnovers, three more sacks and three chances for the Bills offense to stage that 4th quarter rally.

This is not to say the Bills were unlucky or blameless in their demise. This game, in many ways, had a strong whiff of a 2019.

Sure, Allen pulled off the 4th quarter comeback, but he was a big reason there needed to be a comeback in the first place. He had two second half interceptions and we all know he was lucky that number wasn’t twice as big. The Bills offense did not cross midfield in the second half until the final drive (their first second half TD was set up in Arizona territory by a fumble). In between the first and the last drives, Buffalo did not have a possession that moved 40 yards.

The rushing woes were back for the defense with the Cards rolling up over 200 yards and it wasn’t just quarterback scrambling. Kenyan Drake, who was a question mark to play all week, hit 100 yards on the nose.

Were it not for a super fortunate interception off the hands of Larry Fitzgerald in the fourth quarter, the story of this game might have been how the Bills had a lead, then rolled over and died instead of one of the greatest finishes in NFL history.

And let’s be fair. The Bills have received their share of breaks already this year. This is the first one score game they have lost after winning five straight. They beat the Rams on a last second penalty that was an unforced error. Justin Zimmer made a great play to force a fumble against the Patriots, but a bouncing fumbled ball is no guarantee to be recovered by the defense.

At the end of day, the Bills might still owe karma one this year. They’re no better than even.

Dion Dawkins was right when he pointed out the silver lining. “This wasn’t the Super Bowl. We still have plenty more games to play.”

This also wasn’t a playoff game. This lost won’t end the season. There’s still a chance to make sure the next game doesn’t come down to the final play, a chorus that refrained in every discussion with someone in red and blue after the game.

Last year, the Bills played cat and mouse with a host of teams from the NFL’s lower class and then got bit when they tried the same game in the postseason. This year’s team has already proven they’re much better. Sean McDermott began the season with three wins in 20 tries against playoff teams. The Bills have likely already at least doubled that (Rams, Dolphins, Raiders, Seahawks).

But are they good enough to really make a run at a championship? The world champion Chiefs have only two one score wins out of eight this season. In fact, only three of their last 16 wins (going back to last season) have come by eight points or less. They probably had a long exhale in Buffalo when Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s fumble was overturned, but Pat Mahomes followed swiftly to bury any chance for a late Bills comeback.

There’s still a bit more work for the Bills to do to reach that level. Good teams don’t waste 14 point second half leads. Good teams don’t disappear during the third quarter. Good teams don’t get torched on the ground every other week. And one more thing.

“Good football teams… can’t give up a Hail Mary to win the game,” Hyde said.

When you keep leaving the door open to miracles, sometimes you have to just stand there and watch one beat you.

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