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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

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

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