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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

    • Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch
      August 7, 2021 | 6:59 pm

      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

      During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

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