I can’t believe it. I just heard Cris Collinsworth say he “now likes Buffalo in the AFC East this season.”
What the littlest tap on a shin can do to an entire NFL division. After the absolutely wimpiest knock on a leg since my little brother ran into my leg with his Big Wheels when he was three years old, the entire AFC East, and to some extent, the entire NFL, seems to be turned on its head. Tom Brady is injured, the Patriots don’t have the dominant defense they once did (thanks free agency and old age), and thus this marks the end of the world. Well, maybe not, but you would think it was the way the local Boston stations are covering Brady’s injury as I type. “A disapointing start to what was to be another dream season for the Patriots,” led off Channel 7’s late news. Wow, Channel 7, I didn’t know that the season’s result was predetermined. Usually a team has to play games to determine if a season is a “dream season.”
Now Channel 7 has opened a viewer poll asking if the hit on Brady was a dirty hit. It was according to half the guys in the sports bar where I was watching the game this afternoon and some of the Pats players. I massively disagree. It wasn’t a dirty hit. If you would like to see some dirty hits, why don’t you watch some of the hits the Pats defense routinely puts on opposing quarterbacks? Those hits that don’t ever seem to get called, because the Pats bring in way too much advertising and promotional item money for the NFL for them ever to be penalized. It was a fair hit on Brady, and I’m sorry he got injured. But Brady wasn’t going to be infallible forever. As I said a few days ago, either Moss or Brady was going to go down this year. They are too old and have gone too long without a major injury not to have something like this occur.
Because of Brady’s injury, the steamrolling the Bills did over the Seahawks this afternoon is being overlooked as much as teenage me was by guys. I ventured out to a local sports bar with NFL Sunday Ticket to watch the slate of 1pm games this afternoon, meaning I actually got to see the Bills game. As usual, I was the only Bills fan in the room – there were quite a few Eagles, Dolphins, Jets and Steelers fans there. As always, the Bills held true to Marv Levy’s mantra that special teams can be the key to winning a football game, as demonstrated by the stellar performances of Roscoe Parrish, Brian Moorman and Rian Lindell, my three stars of the game. (On a random note, is anyone else as intrigued with the name Rian as I am? Why isn’t this name as popular as Aiden and Connor? I don’t get it. It’s Irish, has a unique spelling – don’t those two qualities define half of the top baby names these days?) The defensive unit kept Seattle from converting third downs, and made Matt Hasselbeck’s afternoon miserable. Trent Edwards looked shaky and nervous through the first quarter, but settled down soon afterwards. It’s obvious that he works much better with his offensive line then JP Losman ever did. My only concern is his timing in the pocket – he overthrew or kept the ball too long a handful of times this afternoon.
I am always proud and impressed with the level of dedication of Bills fans. At the end of the first quarter, the skies in Buffalo opened up, and it appeared that sheets of rain were falling down upon Orchard Park. The majority of fans stayed glued in their seats – not budging, not heading for the concourse. They stayed and celebrated everytime the Bills scored. High-fiving, body slams, player leaps, screaming – it was wonderful! The sound of the game wasn’t on at the bar, but you didn’t need to hear the noise to know the level of excitement in Ralph C. Wilson Stadium today.
Unlike Cris Collinsworth, I am not ready to declare the Bills AFC East Champions just yet. I think the Jets are going to get better as Favre gets more acquainted with his receiving corps. I think the Dolphins will have an improved running game, and that will make them a threat all season long. And I know – unfortunately – the Patriots will never go away. But they will be muted, muffled, and not the dominant force of previous years. And that’s good news for us Bills, Jets, or Dolphins fans.