Flipping the script

October 23, 2017

20-20 with 10:08 to play in the fourth quarter. What’s your story, 2017 Buffalo Bills? Are you going to make the plays necessary to win this tight game and fill your fans with the hope that this edition of the team is different?

Or are you going to collapse on yourselves and leave some of us, most of us, all of us, feeling like we’ve seen all of this before?

No sooner had I finished typing those questions and Tampa had the ball back. The Buccaneers had just tied the game when the Bills defense left tight end O.J. Howard wide open for the tying touchdown, and yes I mean WIDE OPEN, Joe Buck. Two plays later Tampa linebacker Lavonte David stripped the football away from LeSean McCoy and recovered the fumble himself. Just like that the Bills were faced with the prospect of trailing in the game for the first time since early in the second quarter.

A witchy throw from Jameis Winston to Mike Evans for the go ahead touchdown saw to that and commence Bills fans experiencing that all too familiar sinking feeling. I even asked Howard Simon what fans would be more upset about after the game, Tyrod Taylor not being able to drive the Bills to a tying touchdown or the botched clock mess at the end of the first half?

That’s when Taylor and the Bills decide to flip the script. A 44-yard completion to Deonte Thompson plus an unnecessary roughness penalty had the Bills in business maybe a little too quickly. I only say that because they ended up tying the game and leaving the Bucs 2:20 to work with. Considering the difficulty the Bills had stopping Tampa all day, mostly through the air, it was only right to be nervous.

There’s the script flip again. On Tampa’s first play following the kick off rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White stripped the ball away from Adam Humphries and recovered the fumble himself. White, who was beaten by Mike Evans for Tampa’s go ahead score and was in tears two weeks ago after getting lit up by A.J Green in Cincinnati, made the play to save the day for the Bills.

Even then though, the Bills weren’t all set. Yes, they were in long field goal range and the lead in the game was definitely within their reach. But remember the clock? The Bills were facing a 3rd and 9 from the Tampa 32-yard line coming out of the two minute warning. A 50-yard field goal at that point would leave you in serious danger of an answer back Bucs field goal, or worst case scenario, a game winning touchdown.

Time for the Bills to flip the script again and welcome Taiwan Jones to the party. A pitch from Taylor to Jones resulted in an 11-yard gain and allowed the Bills to run the clock down to :18 seconds before kicking the go ahead field goal. The alternative would have left Tampa 1:45 or more to try and tie the game. Again, cue nervous time for Bills fans.

Deonte Thompson.

Taiwan Jones.

Don’t be hard on your friends if they have no idea who those guys are. Or maybe I should say no idea who those guys were. After today, I don’t know, is somebody maybe buying their jerseys? Does the Bills store even have their jerseys? There is no way you could’ve thought Deonte Thompson would go for 100 yards against the Bucs. You know why? Because he wasn’t on the team until this past Tuesday. Taiwan Jones has barely seen the field this season.

Yet there they were making two of the biggest plays in a Bills win to push their record to 4-2. Another home game with Oakland awaits next Sunday. I’m not going to blame you if you’re bracing for a letdown because that’s been almost all we’ve known for the past 17 seasons.

I don’t know what to tell you if you want to stand there. But I’m not discounting the possibility that these Bills can keep flipping the script.