I found this ticket in a stack of stuff in my old room while visiting home last month. Pure nostalgia.

The worst NFL game ever played was on Sunday, December 16 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio featuring the Buffalo Bills vs. the Cleveland Browns.

I was at this game with my dad, the only Bills away game I’ve ever seen live, and while the game was horrendous with the final score being 8-0 Cleveland, it was a memorable experience with my dad and one I’ll likely never forget. It was cold, with the temperature starting in the low 30s and creeping down to the 20s as the game went on. Humidity was around 80% and the windchill had to be at least 20 degrees with the stadium sitting right on Lake Erie. I remember when we left my coat had become a frozen shell of refuge around my body. The snow was so thick by kickoff it blanketed the entire field and obstructed vision to the point from where I was sitting I could barely make out the Buffalo players in their white away jerseys.

We arrived in Cleveland the day before to check out the NFL Hall of Fame, and the morning of the game the weather was normal. We tailgated in a parking garage (Cleveland doesn’t have many options being downtown and on the Lake) and with a nice layer of alcohol and meat product warming our blood, my dad and I headed inside. That’s when the snow started coming down hard. We sat in the uppermost level, nice and high, which didn’t help our field of vision.

The game saw two Browns field goals and a safety when Buffalo punter Brian Moorman fumbled the snap or something and ended up kicking the ball out his own endzone. Clearly he was being reactionary and the white glaze may have gotten to his head to do something like that, but yeah, it was a difficult game to watch both literally and figuratively.

And I have to say — Browns fans were not nice people. One would think a game with weather like that would bring fans of two North Eastern teams together in the spirit of football, but no. We were being blasted with snowballs the entire time and on our way out people would say things to my dad and I like “Hope your drive home takes forever,” or “Hope you get in an accident” and other shit like that (the drive did take us around 6 hours to get back, roughly double what it should have). More snowballs and ice chunks found their way towards us, too, as we exited the stadium. This all pissed me off because Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. was one of the few owners who backed Cleveland when the Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 and became the Ravens. I’ve heard, but have not been able to confirm via the internet, Wilson even went as far as to shuttle hundreds of Browns fans to Buffalo to watch the first ever Bills/Ravens game in Western New York. If that’s true… jeez, Browns fans.

Believe me — I’m all about taking a sound ribbing for the teams I cheer for, it’s a given being a Bills fan in today’s world, but wishing death on someone over a sport is asinine. I had a great time — don’t get me wrong — but I have a marred view of Browns fans in their own house.

I understand why they’d be angry, though. People think the Bills are bad, but damn, the Browns have a history littered with only bad. They’ve never been to the big dance, the Super Bowl. At least the Bills have some tasty sprinkles in their history — like four Super Bowls in a row and a decade of solid play (come back 1990s!). Woof woof.

What makes this loss even worse is the following season on November 17, 2008 the Bills had a chance at redemption, playing the Browns on Monday Night Football at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. I was at that one too and the Bills lost 29-27 on the final play of the game — a field goal.

Total suck.

Snapped this from the parking lot of the Ralph, walking in for MNF!

From our seats in the 300 level. 0-0. Back when anything was possible.

The word is out; the Buffalo Bills will meet the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium to signal the start of Monday Night Football on September 14, 2009. Bills fans knew that the addition of Terrell Owens would bring the team more attention in the national spotlight, but who would have thought the season premiere of Monday Night Football was in the cards!?

As expected, Buffalo fans have mixed emotions about the announcement. Here are some immediate reactions on the pros and cons of the situation:

tom_brady_doucheCONS

-The game is in New England.

-While Owens and Brady will be the talk of the game, inevitably the broadcast is going to turn into a Tom Brady love fest. With this being his first game back from suffering a knee injury in week 1 of the 2008 season, and Brady’s return taking place in New England the stage has been set. Also, it’s almost a given that somehow Teddy Bruschi will be highlighted as well. (I hate those guys.)

-Owens would probably very vocal after a blow out…

-The major con really boils down to this; the New England Patriots have totally dominated the Buffalo Bills over the last decade. From the Bills defeating the Pats only once in the new millennium (September 7, 2003/31-0), to the disaster that was Drew Bledsoe, to embarrassing prime time losses, the Patriots have slapped an “owned” label on Buffalo. Check out these depressing facts:

  • The Bills are 1-17 against the Patriots in the new millennium.
  • Buffalo has played New England 4 other times on prime time TV over the last 14 years. Here are the results:
  1. Monday Night, October 23, 1995 @ New England: 14-27 loss
  2. Sunday Night, October 27, 1996 @ New England: 25-28 loss
  3. Sunday Night, November 14, 2004 @ New England: 6-29 loss
  4. Sunday Night, Nov. 18, 2007 @ Buffalo: 10-56 loss (the worst defeat in franchise history)

-To continue with the history lesson, the previous two Monday Night Football appearances by Buffalo were some of the worst moments in recent Bills history. The 25-24 loss to the Dallass Cowboys on Nick Folk’s last second field goal in 2007, and Rian Lindell’s wide right kick in last season’s despicable 27-29 loss to the Cleveland Browns(tains), have become this generation of Bills fans’ Forward Lateral and Wide Right. (This humbled writer was present at the Cleveland game and, wow. What a bummer.)  The Patriots now have the opportunity to send Buffalo packing for the third straight year on Monday Night Football.

terrell_owens-2PROS

-Well, the reverse angle of this is that, hey, the Bills will be on Monday Night Football three years in a row! What fan doesn’t want to see their team get a prime time slot? Given how the Bills closed out last season, this is a boon for the team and it’s fans (especially since before T.O. appeared, the prospect of a Buffalo prime time game was all too laughable).

-More media attention for Buffalo and it’s Bills is always a good thing.

-If somehow the Bills can get over the hump and actually defeat New England, talk about a way to start off the season! What a momentum surge: poo-pooing on Brady’s return to the Pats, at home, and on national TV. Kick. Ass.

-If the Bills were to win, one can only imagine that Terrell Owens would play a major role in the victory. That would be a great way for T.O. to make his Buffalo debut by burning New England at home and helping to erase Buffalo’s 11 game, 5 and a half year losing streak to the Pats.

-The Pats and Bills will be donning their throwback AFL jerseys for the game. This should mentally return Bills fans to a time when Buffalo dominated New England. Happy days.

For the Bills, the 2008 season ended with a gutless 13-0 home loss to the Patriots. They have now been given the opportunity to make a statement to themselves, their fans, and the rest of the NFL that the Buffalo Bills are back and ready to compete. Brady, Welker, Moss, and Maroney had better watch out, because here comes Edwards, Evans, Owens, and Lynch!

Oh, and to the T.O. haters who are speculating why he has missed the first few days of a voluntary training session set to last 12 weeks with the Bills, chill out. Owens has been preparing for his appearance as an honored guest at the Alzheimer’s Association 6th Annual Gala in Washington, D.C. this evening. So chew on that.

Go Bills!

It’s the same old out of tune song for Buffalo sports fans:1112866

Wide right to lose the game. Where have we heard that one before?

For two straight years the Buffalo Bills have allowed the Cleveland Browns to hack a severe gash in their playoff hopes as the Browns beat the Bills 27-29 on Monday Night Football.

I have a lot to vent about, so brace yourself.

The report card: 

Best Performance in a Losing Effort: RB Marshawn Lynch. Finally, Lynch broke the 100 yard mark this season getting 23 carries for 119 yards. He was also Trent Edwards go to guy pulling in 10 catches for 58 yards and a TD. Lynch stepped up his defensive play by doing a great job blocking for Edwards and picking up the blitz. It’s too bad that his best performance of the year ended up being meaningless due to the atrocious play of his quarterback.

Most Drunk Award: Bills QB Trent Edwards. The guy looked horrendous, terrible, god-awful, [insert adjective here]. It seems for the past four weeks now we Bills fans have been thinking ‘that was Trent’s worst game all season’… well, that thought continued on Monday night. In his last four games Edwards has thrown only 3 TD’s and 8 interceptions. He hasn’t looked the same since suffering a concussion in week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals. He looks scared. In the first eleven and a half minutes of play Edwards threw three interceptions, effectively taking the crowd out of the game. Granted, the first pick wasn’t his fault as the ball was tipped at the line, but the next two were bone head throws that looked like something our old pal J.P. Losman would have done. Speaking of J.P., it appears as though Edwards has been taking notes from the former Bills starter. Edwards displayed Losman choreography all night long: three step drop, no steps forward, and unerring happy feet. The worst part about Trent’s horrible performance is that the excuses we were making for him the last four weeks were fixed in this game; a lackluster run game and a bad offensive line. Well, last night the run game had its best performance of the season and the O line gave Edwards all sorts of time to make a play. After the three picks, Edwards looked scared to throw the ball, going with his ‘panic’ option and tossing short passes to Lynch on the line of scrimmage… which leads me to the next award.

Biggest Head Scratcher Award: There were so many head scratching moments in this pathetic loss by the Bills it’s hard to pick just one. I suppose I’ll go with the most obvious, frustrating fact of the game: Lee Evans 0 catches for 0 yards. This stat is not the fault of Evans but of his scared, wussy quarterback, Trent Edwards. After the first pass of the game was tipped and resulted in an interception, Edwards threw zero balls to Evans. Zero. How the hell do you expect to win a game when you never throw a ball to your biggest play maker? The worst part about this statistic is that Evans was open all the time. This is not an overstatement. On nearly every route he ran, Evans was wide open. Half the time Edwards didn’t even check Lee and how he missed seeing him the other half of the time blows my mind. The head scratching has turned into hair pulling. Come on Trent, grow some balls and play. 

Worst Stat: Rian Lindell, wide right from 47 yards to win the game. Guh. Thank you history for throwing that one back in our face. Add it to the fact that last season on Monday Night Football Buffalo lost to the Dallass Cowboys by a last second field goal. By missing that kick, it’s unfair to make Rian Lindell the scapegoat of the game, and you can’t blame him for the loss.

Seriously!? Award:  However, you can blame Bills head coach [Limp] Dick Jauron and offensive coordinator Turk Schonert for the Bills loss. Especially for calling three poop-in-the-pants plays in a row preceding the potential game winning field goal. The three running plays were terribly executed, gaining 2, 2, and 1 yards respectively. The coaching staff did nothing to try and confuse the defense; no play action, no quick pass for a few extra yards, nothing. Let’s not forget that these plays were preceded by a 22 yard hook up of Edwards to TE Robert Royal to put the Bills in field goal range. Why not stick with what had just worked? Cleveland used all three of their timeouts in-between those plays, and the coaches couldn’t think of anything better to call than three lackluster runs? At the very least go in shotgun formation and give the ball to RB Fred Jackson, a play that worked against the Browns all game. But no, three lame, uninspired runs were used to set up a 47 yard field goal. Hey Dick [Head], history tells us that 47 yard field goals aren’t a gimme. Just ask Jim Kelly why he has no ring on his finger.

Lack of Common Sense Award: The coaching staff. In addition to all of the points I made above it bears mentioning that the Bills wasted four of six timeouts in this game due to not being prepared with a play. Three of these wasted time outs were absolutely inexcusable: 1) In the first quarter the Bills had a 3rd and 1 on their own 10 yard line and lined up with an empty backfield. Edwards looked confused [surprise!] and called a time out. Now, one would think that after calling a time out, you would adjust your play to what the defense had shown you. Well, that didn’t happen and the Bills lined up in the exact same formation and Trent threw his third pick of the day! 2) When in the third quarter, the Browns had a 3rd and 10 and the defense called time out. After the time out, QB Brady Quinn tossed a 23 yard pass to WR Braylon Edwards for a first down because [gasp!] the Bills faked a LB blitz! How typical. 3) This one is the game’s worst waste of a time out, and it came when the Bills were on offense. With 2:35 left to play Marshawn Lynch broke a 28 yard run to put the Bills on the Cleveland 1 yard line. Now, one would expect the Bills to rush to the line of scrimmage and keep the defense on their toes or at least enact their hurry up offense. But no. They didn’t. They called a time out. How the #$%* do you not have a play ready in that situation!? How? The Bills had an extra day to prepare for this match-up and they looked like a bunch of confused high school kids. Pathetic.

Biggest Mouth Award: CB Terrence McGee. Before the season began he promised a Bills playoff game this year. Seems like Terrence McGee is a lying sack of crap. I must admit, he did play well in this game, defending against six passes… Oops! I forgot about how he was playing 15 yards off of his man during Cleveland’s game winning drive. All the Browns needed was a field goal to take the lead in the final minutes of the game, and McGee is playing that far off of his man. Come on now Terrence. Come on now.

How in the Hell…? Award: Goes to the Bills offense. They (and by ‘they’ I mostly mean Trent Edwards) negated a great game by the special teams unit. The Bills average starting field position was on their own 35 yard line. That’s pretty darn good. Even better was that the offense commenced six drives from at least their own 41 yard line. This is how those six drives went: punt, field goal, field goal, punt, TD, wide %#&@ing right. Nice work offense. About the special teams, I have to give props to kick returner Leodis McKelvin who ran back a 98 yard kick off for a TD. Too bad on the ensuing kick off Lindell booted it out of bounds at the Cleveland 43, giving them great field position which turned into a Browns field goal. 

What The Hell Do You Get Paid For Award: Goes to the referee who failed to see Braylon Edwards mauling Terrence McGee on the first play of the fourth quarter. On this play Browns RB Jerome Harrison broke a 72 yard TD run. He was able to do this mainly because McGee was trying to not get raped by Braylon Edwards who was holding onto him like a psycho obsessive girlfriend. If not for this blatant hold, Terrence would have caught up to Harrison around the 30 yard line. This all happened right in front of the officials big fat face who was too busy watching the bouncing buns of a sprinting Harrison instead of catching an obvious holding call. Add this to the crap ‘unnecessary roughness’ call on Kawika Mitchell on the Browns next drive, and you have a duo of blind, patty-cake officials. Hey, it wasn’t Mitchell’s fault that Harrison lost his footing while being shoved out of bounds and smashed his head against a wall. Seriously, it wasn’t.

The Final Word: Mathematically the Bills aren’t out of the playoff hunt, but they will need a lot of help if they hope to make this season memorable. In the AFC East they are in last place at 5-5, with the Pats and Dolphins at 6-4, and the Jets are in first with a 7-3 record. It is very clear that the Bills need to start winning and other teams need to start losing for a playoff hope to exist. Trent Edwards needs to mature, and quickly. The fact that Bills couldn’t beat the Cleveland Brown stains doesn’t give me much faith. 

But faith is still there… somehow.

Billieve.

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