Snow globe

December 11, 2017

Well that was fun. I mean, maybe. I guess it depends on how safely you navigated the ride to and from the stadium and how wired you are to handle the cold.

I’ve endured some snowy Buffalo Bills games over the years and remember the days quite fondly. Surely many will look back at this game with the Indianapolis Colts the same way, an unforgettable memory. Certainly the way the game concluded would have a lot to do with that. I doubt I’d look back at the Bills' win over the Miami Dolphins in 2002 so fondly if Miami had managed to steal away with the win. Maybe it’d just end being a day I spent freezing with my buddy Steve had the Bills blown it that day.

It sure was fun to look at, I’ve got to give it that. The snow game is a peculiar thing. When the conditions are as severe as they were Sunday at New Era Field, it makes the ordinary seem spectacular. An example came right before halftime when the Bills used a couple of 20-plus-yard runs by LeSean McCoy and a 21-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin to set up a 1st and goal situation. Any one of those plays in regular conditions wouldn’t be all that remarkable. Do it with a few inches of snow on the field and more falling and they each become the play of the game. Converting those plays into a touchdown pass from Nathan Peterman to Benjamin gave the Bills a 7-0 lead at halftime after Stephen Hauschka somehow managed to kick the extra-point.

As the second half unfolded, it looked like maybe that the single touchdown would be enough. There was a sequence following a Mike Tolbert fumble where the Colts got close enough to try a pass into the Bills end zone. Indy managed to break Chester Rogers open behind Tre’Davious White, but Jacoby Brissett’s pass was just late enough and Rogers disappeared into a snow bank out of bounds as he caught the ball. This sparked memories of playing football in the snow as a kid on the streets of West Seneca.

Indianapolis ended up turning the ball over. Like me, you might have thought maybe the Bills would be able to nurse the shutout at home. If you thought that, like me, you would’ve been mistaken. The Colts were saving the drive of the day for the end. Or near the end. Or to try and end the game. Whatever. The Colts went on a 19-play, 77-yard drive that ate up nearly ten minutes of clock. The Colts scored, then appeared to win the game 8-7 with a two point conversion, but that got called back on an offensive pass interference penalty. So instead, the Colts had to settle for an attempt at a tie on a 43-yard extra point try. Adam Vinatieri hooked a four iron off a tree root and overtime seemed likely, until Joe Webb threw a pick and gave the Colts a look at a duplicate 43-yard kick to win it. Vinatieri missed this time and we were overtime bound.

Forgive me for just sort of squeezing in that Joe Webb was playing quarterback for the Bills. Peterman had to leave the game in the third quarter, the victim of a headshot from Antonio Morrison. With Tyrod Taylor inactive due to his injured knee, that left the Bills offense in the hands of Webb.

So that’s your situation as overtime begins, and that’s a story all it’s own. You’ve got the Bills coach punting at the Colts' 41-yard-line with just about four-minutes to go. A tie would’ve severely hurt the Bills' playoff chances and it was feeling very much like a Bills coach punting away his team's playoff hopes in December. You know, just like Rex Ryan did last year.

But fear not, Colts coach Chuck Pagano was right there to kick the ball back to the Bills and then it got kind of surreal. Webb, on a 3rd and 6 from the Buffalo 39-yard line, lofted a 34-yard pass to Deonte Thompson who made a twisting, falling catch at the Colts' 27-yard-line. 3rd and 4 at the Indy 21-yard-line had me thinking about the uncertainty of a 39-yard field goal try in ridiculous conditions.

That’s when McCoy capped an unforgettable day with a touchdown and a win. So the Bills hunting position improves some, helped by a Baltimore loss against Pittsburgh Sunday night and a Tennessee loss at Arizona. We’ll likely have to wait a bit to find out if either Bills quarterback can play next week when the Bills host Miami. The alternative is of course Webb, who has primarily been used covering kicks for the Bills then threw a pass that for the time being, saved their playoff lives.

Yes, it was a weirdly memorable day.