Monday, September 19, 2011

Opining on Bills riveting comeback and Syracuse's move to the ACC

There have been many positive developments during the first two games of the season for the Bills, but the one I'm most impressed with is the play of the offensive line.

Consider this: Buffalo's much-maligned line has yielded just one sack in 71 passing attempts and has helped Fred Jackson and Co. rush for 380 yards.

The combo of center Eric Wood, guards Andy Levitre, Kraig Urbik and Chad Rinehart and tackles Demetrius Bell and Erik Pears didn't back down against Oakland's physical front seven, even after falling behind 21-3 in the first half. Buffalo's front line gave Ryan Fitzpatrick time to stage one of the most thrilling comebacks I've witnessed in more than four decades of following the Bills and opened the door for them to rush for 217 yards.


It's foolhardy, but fun nonetheless to project stats. With that in mind, Fitz is on pace to throw 56 touchdown passes and Action Jackson is on pace to rush for 1,832 yards. Again, you can't expect those things to happen in a physical sport where attrition is high, but it is fun to play with the numbers.


Tight end Scott Chandler continues to make a big difference. He only had two catches for 10 yards and a score vs. the Raiders, but the numbers don't measure the impact he's having even when he isn't targeted. The winning touchdown pass from Fitz to David Nelson was the direct result of Oakland paying extra attention to Chandler in the red zone, which is understandable, considering Chandler had beaten the Raiders for a touchdown earlier and had scored twice in the opener against Kansas City.

Nelson was so open on his six-yard game-winning reception over the middle that he was afraid he might drop the ball. The 6-foot-7 Chandler clearly played a role in causing the blown coverage.


It was too bad that Ralph Wilson had to miss his first home opener in his 52 years as Bills owner. The soon-to-be 93-year-old missed one of the most riveting comebacks in franchise history because he was home in Detroit recuperating from a broken hip. Classy move on the part of Chan Gailey and the team to award a game ball to Ralph.


Nothing, of course, will ever top the comeback from 32 points in the 1993 playoff game against Houston at the stadium then known as Rich. But yesterday's ending was among the best I've ever seen. And what made the game even more thrilling was the way the Raiders kept responding. There were five lead changes in the second half. Extremely entertaining.


I think the big negative from yesterday's game was the Bills pass defense. Despite missing his top four receivers because of injuries, Jason Campbell was able to throw for 323 yards. Buffalo didn't get much pressure on him and the defensive backs lost too many battles for jump balls. The Bills need to shore that up in a hurry or Tom Brady might put 600 yards up on them this Sunday.


I understand why Syracuse had to take the preemptive move and join the Atlantic Coast Conference, but I still don't like the seismic shift going on in the big-money world of big-time college sports.

I'll always have a soft spot for the Big East Conference. SU basketball and the Carrier Dome benefited greatly from its formation and, likewise, the conference benefited greatly from Syracuse's presence.

The ACC membership makes geographic sense, particularly if West Virginia and either UConn or Rutgers are added to the mix. They'll be able to form a northern division that includes Boston College, Syracuse, Pitt, Maryland, West Virginia, Connecticut and possibly, Rutgers.

It certainly will be fun watching Duke and North Carolina make basketball visits to the Dome and Syracuse play regular games on Tobacco Road.

It's pretty obvious where this avaricious world of big-time sports is headed: Four super conferences (Pac 16, Big Ten, ACC and SEC).

As this unfolds, I would like to see hypocritical university presidents refrain from telling us that this is all about aligning their schools with colleges that share similar academic goals. That might be partially true, but the main reason you're doing this is for money.


(For more on yesterday's Bills game, please go to and check out my column and interview with Channel 8's John Kucko from the Ralph.)


Dave said...

scottie.... going to the ACC is a bitter sweet pill.... i'm thinkin the powers on the hill didnt want to wait for the big east to crumble and be left holding the bag. football and lax will be winners, but hoops will lose... i will certainly miss games against g-town, nova, uconn and the big east basketball championship in the big apple. helmethead

Anonymous said...

Hi, Scott. I have some copies of "Memories of Yankee Stadium" that I would love to get autographed, maybe inscribed, to some young baseball fans I know. Is there a place where I could mail them to you? If you don't want to post here, I can be reached at asktravis at gmail dot com. Thank you!