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Strange Things Are Afoot At Ralph Wilson Stadium
Enjoy It While It Lasts
by Tony Bogyo
November 2, 2004

By now you’ve probably heard about the strange coincidence between the performance of the Washington Redskins and the victor in presidential races. For the past 70 years a win in the last Redskins home game prior to election day has meant that the incumbent party will remain in power; a defeat for the ‘Skins spells victory for the opposition party.

Sunday was a strange day in the NFL and the last week was very odd in the world of sports but I think the events point squarely to a presidential victor.

On Wednesday the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. After 86 years of heartbreak the perennial losers finally put it all together and brought a championship home. Living in Boston I saw the Red Sox 24-7 – I doubt a nuclear war would have received any more than passing notice on the local news (seriously – how do you work the Red Sox into the morning traffic report when the team is 1000 miles away in St. Louis?). I found it personally odd to be rooting for Tim Wakefield, a guy who challenged me to a fight in a parking lot more than 10 years ago when I razzed him at a game (he was playing third base for the Welland, Ontario Pirates at the time and I was an obnoxious fan on the third base line).

Strange happening #2 was that the Chicago Bears won a game. Sure they played the worst team in the NFL (could the 49ers be any worse? When you long to get Tim Rattay back into the lineup to save your team you’ve got major, major problems) and won ugly (I can still hear field goals bouncing off the crossbar), but they won.

Strange occurrence #3 was the Patriots loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. OK, maybe it wasn’t that strange – the Steelers are a pretty good team with a good looking rookie quarterback and had a huge fired up crowd on their side and the Patriots were due for a loss, but many do consider it odd that the Pats lost.

The strangest happening of all had to be the Bills win at home over the Arizona Cardinals. Not only did the Bills win – they won in convincing fashion. The Bills scored 38 points. They scored touchdowns in the red zone. The Bills scored not one but two rushing touchdowns – the first and second of the season. Very odd.

The strange happenings clearly point to a tremendous upset in Tuesday’s big race. Your next president? Ralph Nader. Bet the house on it (I’m sure Ralph did).

OK, so Nader may not win on Tuesday, but the Bills play this weekend was unlike any we’ve seen in quite some time.

For a team starved of good statistics, Sunday’s game was just what the doctor ordered and what the fans had been screaming for.

The Bills scored five touchdowns, four of which came from within the red zone. The special teams scored another touchdown when return man Terrence McGee went 87 yards on a kickoff return. Drew Bledsoe was not sacked in the game and was not responsible for any turnovers. The team had a manageable 7 penalties for 55 yards. Willis McGahee had his second 100-yard game of the season (the only 100 yard rushing games of the season) and scored his first NFL rushing touchdowns. In all there was plenty to be excited about.

Of course the stats weren’t entirely good, but some could be explained by the harsh weather conditions in Orchard Park – rain and a howling wind. Bledsoe only completed 8 of 17 pass for 81 yards – hardly a banner statistical day (if he’s still your fantasy football quarterback at this point in the season you deserve what you get). McGahee’s century mark on the ground came on 30 carries, translating into a rather pedestrian 3.4 yards per carry. The Bills converted only 6 of 16 third down opportunities and had to punt 7 times. The Bills only had 209 net yards and benefited from an Arizona team penalized 15 times for 101 yards.

In true Halloween fashion, Bills fans saw something that looked outwardly different and somewhat pleasing but upon close examination you could probably tell it was a disguise. You wanted to believe what you saw but you had a gut feeling that next week it could be back to normal – no costumes to make us look better than we really are.

Eight weeks into the season and it’s still hard to tell who the Bills really are. They’ve shown good signs of life in their two wins, but few can be impressed by victories over two bottom feeder teams. Bragging about beating Miami and Arizona is like bragging about how you scored better on the SAT than any third grader in the entire school district. The Bills have played well at other times but haven’t been able to get the job done. At other times the team has been downright terrible – making you want to tear your hair out.

While I enjoyed the Arizona game, I don’t expect that I’ll be treated to much more of that this year (except for the San Francisco game – did I mention that they are the worst team I’ve seen in a very long time?). I have an uneasy feeling that I’ll go back to tearing my hair out (thankfully it’s not nearly as uneasy as the feeling I get when I see the new AT&T/Cingular add where Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson morph into one guy named “Rocket Unit” – just looking at the hideous creation and visualizing how that could have happened freaks me out - eeewww).

I guess I’ll just enjoy this week’s win and bask in the glow of celebrating a strong performance from my team the same week that the Pats fans with whom I work cry about losing. I’ll think happy thoughts about Willis carrying the ball for a hundred yards and multiple touchdowns on a weekly basis. I’ll dream about the day when the Bills offense scores 5 touchdowns and yields no sacks. We got a sneak peak of what this team might one day look like – let’s enjoy it while we can.


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