Primetime. Rivalry. Do or die.
There was a lot riding on Thursday night’s game. The primetime, national coverage usually gets Bills fans fired up, especially when a rival like the Miami Dolpins are in town. What made the game even more important was because the Dolphins were 4-5 coming into the game, and the Bills 3-6. With a weak AFC, either of these teams possibly could get to the playoffs with a string of wins. A loss for the Bills effectively guaranteed the Bills would rack up another season lost with no chance at the playoffs.
I attended the game, and there were plenty of pregame festivities that you didn’t see on t.v. The Bills orchestrated a tribute to veterans. Fans were given cards to hold up, which read “Thank you Veterans” and “Thank You Military”. They also had all branches of the military represented and National Guard members took their oath on the field. It was a moving ceremony and a very classy tribute by the Bills organization.
The game started off with the Bills defense stopping the Dolphins on three downs and punting off to Leodis McKelvin. McKelvin’s strength is punt returns and he is always a threat to take it to the end zone. The punt was deep, and McKelvin started to run. He looked like he ran into a cluster of players and would be stopped, when he emerged from the group like he was shot out of a cannon. No one could touch him, and before the offense could step out onto the field, the Bills were up 7-0.
That turned out to be the only touchdown of the game, unfortunately.
The Bills’ defense was able to effectively stop the run, which was encouraging to see as that’s been a sore spot this season. The Bills gave up only 60 yards rushing and a total of 184 yards total offense. Mario Williams recorded a sack and a pair of timely interceptions by Jarious “Ball Hawk” Byrd and Bryan Scott at the end of the game ended up winning the game.
The Bills offense looked okay driving down the field, but they couldn’t convert in the red zone. Four drives that should have resulted in touchdowns ended disappointingly in field goals. Despite the lack of touchdowns, the story of the game was C.J. Spiller. With Fred Jackson out with a concussion, C.J. had the bulk of the carries and was successful in racking up 91 rushing yards against a pretty good Miami run defense.
The Bills and Dolphins now both have 4-6 records. Neither of these teams are talented enough to go far in the playoffs, but as long as the hope is alive for Bills fans, we will keep believing that there is a chance to get there.