The Buffalo Bills playoff drought is over
The Buffalo Bills 17 season playoff drought is finally over. It has been a long time coming for the Bills team as well as the team’s fan base. The Bills beat the Miami Dolphins 22-16, which ironically is the score of the last playoff game the team played in. The win against the Dolphins was only half of what needed to happen in order to make the playoffs a reality for the Bills. The Bills needed either a combination of a San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans loss, or a Baltimore Ravens loss. The Chargers and Titans won their games, however, the Ravens lost inside the last-minute to the Cincinnati Bengals on basically a miracle play.
Andy Dalton connected with Tyler Boyd for the go-ahead touchdown with only seconds left in the game. Being a Bills fan, I kept my eye on the Bengals vs Ravens game all evening on Sunday. I watched the scores of the Titans and Chargers game, separately as well. The emotions I experienced yesterday were similar to the highs and lows of a rollercoaster ride.
That same rollercoaster ride feeling is what it has felt like being a Bills fan for the previous 17 seasons. The last time the Bills made the playoffs, I watched the game. It was one of the most heartbreaking losses ever. We lost to the Tennessee Titans on a fluke play that’s now referred to as the “Music city miracle.” The Bills were on their way to winning that game, but the Titans designed a special teams play that is a part of NFL history. Every time media broadcasts mentioned NFL comeback games over the past 17 seasons, they would show video of the music city miracle. They would occasionally mention the Bills having the longest playoff drought out of any NFL team.
I’ve been a Bills fan for as long as I remember. I remember watching their Super bowl games as a small child. I didn’t realize how spoiled us Bills fans were during those days. Our football team went to the Super Bowl 4 times in a row, and although they lost all 4 games, it was almost as if the team going to the Super bowl was a habit. As a fan, I became accustomed to being the fan of a winning team. Not only were the Bills a winning team, but the players were that of an All star roster. Our team consisted of Hall of Fame such as Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, Jim Kelly, and Andre Reed. The Bills were a good team for majority of my early childhood. Once the Hall of Fame players left, it seems like the team’s dominance left as well. The Bills made the playoffs a couple of times after playing in their last Super Bowl, but they never reached the Super Bowl again.
Being a Bills fan as a teen was rough. The team rebuilt their roster at least 7 times during the playoff drought. It seemed like every time the team will build up steam to go in the right direction towards the playoffs, they would blow up their roster. If the defense was top ranked, the offense was bad, and the team’s overall record was bad, the team would bring in a new offensive minded coach, he would bring in his new defensive coordinator. The offense was fixed, but the defense regressed. This happened for a pattern of 17 seasons. The Bills just couldn’t get it right.
The Bills were close to making the playoffs at least 4 times during the drought, and they blew every single chance they had, prior to yesterday’s playoff berth. It feels surreal. Being a Bills fan, you become so used to things not going your way. Yesterday, the Bengals were faced with a 4th and 12 with seconds remaining in the game, and zero timeouts left. Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals were playing bad up until that point. There was nothing inside of me that felt like Dalton was gonna complete a pass to get a first down, let alone throw a TD pass. My hopes were dim and I felt a great sense of disappointment come over me. It was the same feeling I’ve had for the previous 17 seasons. It was the feeling of failure. It was the feeling being deeply invested in a team and getting nothing out of it but high hopes and heartbreak.
I stood in my living room watching, and I was pretty much bracing myself for the Bills season being over with. Then out of nowhere, Andy Dalton drops back in the pocket, steps up to avoid being touched, and throws a pass to Tyler Boyd. When Boyd caught the ball, I immediately got excited. When I saw Boyd continue to run and actually get into the end zone I couldn’t believe it. The first thing that came to my mind was “Are there any flags on the play?” The second thing that came to mind was “I hope the Bengals defense can stop the Ravens offense, because there’s still a chance.” These are the thoughts that come to mind after being in a 17 season drought as a Bills fan.
I can’t begin to state how excited I am about the Bills making the playoffs. I have been in debates with people from LAX in Los Angeles, all the way to Atlanta, GA. Over the previous 17 seasons, I’ve been asked the infamous question countless of times, “Why are you a Bills fan?” I would debate with the doubters telling them “This is our year,” while referring to the Bills possibly making the playoffs and possible Super Bowl during those years. My proclamation never came to light for the previous 17 seasons.
Today, and for the rest of the season I get to defend my team proudly and let people know I’m a Bills fan because we’re a playoff team.
Photos courtesy of: Newsday, Titansonline, The Sun UK.
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