October 2, 2017

Did all of that really happen? Close reviews on huge turnover plays going the way of the Buffalo Bills. 56 and 55-yard fourth quarter field goals by Stephen Hauschka. Then to top it all off the Bills managed to hold on at the end. It was all set up for yet another heartbreaker for the fans and the Bills, but not this time. Nursing a six-point lead with time running down, Atlanta drove all the way to the Bills' 10-yard line. Maybe the go-ahead touchdown seemed inevitable to many fans who’ve been through so many of these gut punches. Instead, the Bills forced one more Matt Ryan incompletion on 4th down and 1 to go for a first down.

So how big is that win? We’ve talked many times over the years about the last time the Bills beat a good or in the case of the Falcons, maybe even a great team on the road in a game that mattered to their season. You can go as far back as 1992 and a win over the Saints in New Orleans to really make the case. Do what you think is right with that. The point is the Bills simply have not won many games like the one Sunday in Atlanta. They just don’t do it.

What an impressive win for the Bills, who four games into the season are really in first place in the AFC East. Like, all alone. Some had their fun on social media after New England lost their opener and the Bills beat the Jets. Look mom, first place. Now, with the Patriots losing at home to Carolina and dropping to 2-2, the Bills at 3-1 are there and maybe it’s not just kind of funny anymore.

Look, I’m just going to say it - it just might be that the Bills are pretty good. It also might be that the mighty Patriots are finally really vulnerable. That could be a fantastic combination.

Pretty good still leaves you with plenty of room for improvement. I still don’t see a potent offensive team coming any time soon for the Bills. They were thin at wide receiver before Jordan Matthews got hurt, and they don’t have an explosive passer in Tyrod Taylor. But pretty good can get you somewhere in the NFL. Pretty good can end this interminable playoff drought. Especially if New England is taking on water.

Any thoughts about this year really taking off have to center on Sean McDermott’s defense. My single biggest takeaway from the win in Atlanta is that now when I look at the rest of the schedule, I’m not feeling like the Bills can’t hang. Aside from the games with the Patriots this one with the Falcons was the toughest game on the schedule and I don’t really thinks it’s close. So now I think you can look at any game on there and think if the Bills defense shows up they’ve got a chance. Get a couple of plays from your offense, a favorable bounce or referee’s call, and there you go.

That’s certainly not something I was thinking about when the Bills were trading away Sammy Watkins this summer and at least giving the impression they were thinking as much about the future as the present.

The present is pretty good. The Bills are 3-1 and all alone in first place in the AFC East and maybe, just maybe, the Patriots aren’t what we thought they’d be.

Pretty good.