Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Buffalo Bills 2010

We set our clocks back last weekend to end Daylight Saving Time. On Sunday morning, dozens of Buffalo Bills fans from the area headed to the Rogers Centre in downtown Hogtown for the annual National Football League game. Most got to the game on time, almost fifty thousand.

At one o’clock, the fans were primed and ready for some football. The Burlington Teen Tour Band, a marching band with flags and majorettes had taken centre stage, did their thing, and had disappeared into the darkest regions of the building. The enormous Buffalo Bill mascot had been inflated in the north-east corner of the field, waiting to engorge a hundred football players. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces from Petawawa unfurled giant Canadian and American flags.

Daniel and his uncle Paul Svboda lined up in the VIP section at the 100 level for grub, clutching their $495 tickets. A tribute was paid to the only Canadian in the game, Israel Idonije, # 71 for the Chicago Bears. In true Canadian fashion, he was warmly greeted by friend and foe alike. The show was about to begin.

At the end of the first quarter, neither team had come close to scoring. It was almost six minutes before Roscoe Parrish caught a pass on the sidelines for a first down, the first of the game.

The Bears got on the score sheet midway through the second quarter. The Bills replied just before the half ended, on a pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Roscoe Parrish.

From that point on, the fans were entertained with a see saw battle that had the Bears emerging victorious at the end, 22-19.

Bills’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was the first player at the podium after the game. He had spent the past three hours desperately eluding three hundred pound linemen, and defensive backfielders. He had been pounded into the turf several times. He made no excuses. In the fourth quarter, he threw a deep pass to Steve Johnson. The Bills led by 19-14 at the time, a critical juncture in the game. The pass was errant, and intercepted.

“I just didn’t get the ball to him. Stevie made a great move. That play was the difference in the game.” The ball was juggled by the left corner linebacker Tim Jennings, then snagged for the interception. The Bears scored three minutes later: game, set, and match.

For his part, Johnson defended his quarterback. “It would have been a great play,” he stated after the game. When asked about the fact that they were playing a home game on the road, he smiled and admitted, “The atmosphere was kind of neutral here. The fans seemed happy to see football”. Toronto is not exactly London, England, or Frankfurt, Germany. Johnson knows there is plenty of football played in Toronto.

Idonije made several outstanding defensive plays in the game, none more critical than in the third quarter when he blocked a Buffalo convert attempt. It was the first time in his career that Rian Lindell had seen a convert blocked.

Bills’ Head Coach Chan Gailey told the media after the game that the blocked extra point attempt “changed the whole tenor of the game”. He summed up the loss; “We are not good enough to overcome the turnovers we made in the game. We tried to establish the run game early. We were not able to run the ball. We have to block better to create more opportunities for C. J. Spiller”. No kidding. The Bills amassed a total of 46 yards on the ground. The Bears’ Brian Urlacher and his friends had completely shut down the Bill’s running game.

A final play that broke the hearts of the Bills fans came just before the two minute warning to end the game. Maynard punted the ball for the Bears, an anaemic attempt that landed near the Bills’ twenty yard line. It bounced and rolled and squirmed down to the one yard line, putting the Bills in a deep hole with little time left on the clock. A true Argo bounce!

Canadian football resumes this weekend in Hamilton, when the Argos face the Ticats in the Eastern semi-final. The winner gets to play the Alouettes in Montreal! Good Luck.

James Hurst
November 9, 2010

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