Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



Move Over “No-Name Defense!” Buffalo Bills are 2-0 with a No-Name Roster and a Cast-off Coach 68

Posted on September 19, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

A defense that includes former All-Pros Shawne Merriman (#56) and Nick Barnett has fans excited in Buffalo.

All of a sudden Buffalo Head Coach Chan Gailey and General Manager Buddy Nix are starting to look like geniuses.

Until a week ago, even the most loyal, optimistic Bills fans were being tempted to doubt. After a mostly dismal pre-season, the popular prognosis for the Bills ranged from regression to no improvement to a 6-10 record at best.

But then Buffalo spanked the Chiefs 41-7 for their most lopsided opening day win since the O.J. Simpson era. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had a nearly flawless game, and the Bills defense was looking like a cross between the classic Purple People Eaters and the Steel Curtain– or maybe– the much heralded “No-Name” Dolphins defense of the ‘70’s.

It was impressive and surprising for everyone. From the most subjective Bills fan to the most jaded pundit, everyone was left speechless– except, perhaps to say, “Wow!”  In fact, one NFL journalist had predicted a 42-7 score favoring Kansas City just days before the season opener. Wow! No, really. Wow!

But of course the question was, how real was that? Was it a fluke? Could the Bills repeat the performance against another tough running team like the Raiders? Certainly not, most handicappers insisted. Even The Buffalo News predicted a 20-14 loss.

And then, as the home opener commenced in front of a sold out Ralph Wilson Stadium, and Oakland jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead, most people– even the most loyal fans, if they were to be honest– had to be thinking the Chiefs game really was a fluke.

“Same old Bills. Get our hopes up just to dash them. We’ll be 1-1, and the Patriots are coming next week.”

Well, at least that’s what I was thinking, hard as I tried to stay hopeful.

But then the second half started and a football game broke out. Bills fans began to wonder where the real Bills had been hiding in the first half, and who were those imposters spotting the Raiders 18 points? The team that took the field in the second half came out with a vengeance, scored 21 unanswered points, and then got into a barn burner of a shootout that reminded those of us who are old enough to remember, of a Monday night game in 1974 when the Bills beat the Raiders at home, after exchanging touchdowns twice in the final minute of the game. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

      Read more »

    • RSSArchive for Vintage Athlete of the Month »
  • Follow Us Online

  • Current Poll

    Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
  • Post Categories



↑ Top