The Buffalo Bills…With this headline, I’m sure you have a couple of games that come to mind already. While the majority of the 17-year drought is best to be forgotten, like the Bills losing to the Steelers back-ups to miss out on the playoffs in 2003 allowing the Jets to slide in over them, or Leodis McKelvin’s infamous fumble against the Patriots in Foxborough that still haunts many of us to this day. “Go down! You don’t need to fight for extra yards!” That just seemed almost inevitable for the Bills during that time.
Or who could forget the perfect dime pass from Fitzpatrick to sure-handed Stevie Johnson in the end zone in overtime that was dropped against the Steelers? The same year the Steelers went on to face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the super bowl. Lastly, a very honorable mention is the 6-3 loss the Bills endured at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, and the cherry on top, I was there to witness that atrocity in person.
The point is, there were a lot of bad, negative memories and moments during the drought era, but now that we’re out of it and thriving, I figured let’s revisit some of the best games during the drought, the games that gave us hope, the games that truly encapsulated what being a Buffalo Bills fan is all about.
#5 – Kyle Orton Leads GW Drive To Defeat Vikings, October 19th, 2014
I really enjoyed the 2014 season. The defense was playing lights out, our new rookie wide receiver was making big plays, and Kyle, freaking Orton was leading the charge over a struggling EJ Manuel. This game was absolutely electric to watch and who would’ve thought that Kyle Orton would be the one completing the fourth quarter comeback.
The fourth and 20 completion to Scott Chandler to keep the game moving, the long pass to Chris Hogan that got us down to the 1-yard line, and then of course the touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins with one second left on the clock. Truly a remarkable comeback, especially since they converted on a fourth and 20, a 3rd and 12, and overcame an intentional grounding call all on the same drive. I haven’t seen the Ralph so crazy after that touchdown grab.
The Bills improved to 4-3 on the season and it seemed like we had the defense, the wide receivers, the coach, and even the quarterback to make a run. Things were starting to take a turn in Buffalo after a big win like this and the fans were starting to see glimpses of hope as well. How could you not?!
4 – Bills Defeat NFC Champs, Atlanta Falcons In Atlanta, 2017
At number four, I have the Bills’ victory over the Atlanta Falcons in 2017. The Falcons started 3-0 that year and were fresh off of Super Bowl heartbreak at the hands of Brady and the Patriots. A pain I don’t even think Bills fans could relate to.
Going into Atlanta the Bills were 2-1. Some hope for us at the beginning of the season with Sean McDermott’s first year as head coach, looking to change the culture and “Trust the Process” of what they’re building in Buffalo. The team had Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, LeSean McCoy at running back, wide receiver Robert Woods, and tight end Charles Clay. This was one of the best-looking Bills’ offenses we’ve seen in a while.
The Bills’ defense started the game hot and Micah Hyde had two interceptions of Matt Ryan, Tre’Davious White returned a Matt Ryan fumble, (that sure looked like an incomplete pass, but I’m not complaining) for a touchdown that gave Buffalo the lead in the second half. The victory was ultimately capped off with a 56-yard field goal by Stephen Hauschka that put the Bills ahead for good.
This game felt like a turning of the tide here. Going into Atlanta’s house and defeating the reigning NFC Champions. This win catapulted the Bills and McDermott for the rest of the season, eventually leading to the end of the drought.
3 – Rex Ryan And The Bills Beat Andrews Luck’s Colts On Opening Day, 2015
Man, remember when Rex Ryan was the coach of the Buffalo Bills? That was fun for a couple of months. He came in and immediately brought in Tyrod Taylor to compete for the starting job and traded Kiko Alonso for Lesean Mccoy which was an absolute fleecing of the Eagles. Ryan, the defensive guru he was, came in and inherited a defense that was already one of the tops in the league with Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Jerry Hughes, Aaron Williams, and Stephen Gilmore. How could we possibly miss the playoffs?!
Well, that Week One game was absolutely electric. Rex was doing a lot of talking in the off-season about how this team was going to be and where he was going to take them. He had a chance to put his words into action against the Colts, who a lot of people had as Super Bowl Favorites that year. Coming off the “Deflategate” controversy, we knew the Colts would be hungry and that they were going to be good.
At the end of the first quarter, Taylor threw a beautiful deep touchdown to newly acquired Percy Harvin, unfortunately, that would be the biggest play Harvin would make all year. But the defense was a big story in this game, and it looked like Rex’s scheme and plans were coming to fruition. The Bills had two sacks of Andrew Luck and picked him off twice. Only allowing 14 points to the high-powered Colts offense, Rex Ryan and the Bills came and said what they were going to do.
I personally was a fan of Rex. While he may have not worked out as a coach, I still love his passion and fire for the game and his players. I was really hoping that he would work out and be the one to take us to the promise land. But this game lands as one of the favorites from the drought era because of the excitement it gave us and the feeling that Rex might be the guy to do this. To do it Week One and at home against the Colts, definitely felt like this could be the group.
2 – Bills Defense Stymies Rodgers, Defeat Packers, December 14th, 2014
Let’s go back to this 2014 season, the season where the Bills finished above .500 for the first time in a decade. Back to Kyle Orton leading the charge and a vaunted defense led by Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes on the edge. Who gave Buffalo a chance to win this game, against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers? This is definitely one of my favorite games I’ve watched. Not only did I win a bet against my friend, who’s a Packers fan, and he had to wear a Bills jersey of my choice all day, but it once again felt like this team was different.
While the offense still struggled mightily at times, the defense was on another level. Bicarri Rambo picked off Aaron Rodgers not once, but twice in this game, and Marcus Thigpen provided the Bills with their only touchdown of the game with an incredible 75-yard punt return. The game was then iced by my favorite player at the time, Mario Williams, who had a strip sack on Rodgers in the final moments of the game which led to a safety of Eddie Lacy.
I have this ranked as number two simply for the fact that this defense held Aaron Rodgers to 17/42 for 185 yards and two interceptions, didn’t score an offensive touchdown, and still won the game by eight points. This game really showed the dominance that Buffalo had on the defensive side of the ball. Imagine Josh with our 2014 defense? Wow! Buffalo would go to finish this season 9-7 and for the first time in over a decade, fans had hope of what could become of this team.
1 – Fitzpatrick And The Bills Come Back To Defeat The Patriots September 25th, 2011
We all knew this was coming, that this was definitely going to the best game of the drought era. How could this not be number one? Coming back from a 21-0 deficit against Tom Brady and the Patriots at home to improve to 3-0 on the season? Intercepting Brady four times in the process? I’m sure we all remember this game very fondly.
The Patriots had been bullying us for years and years and finally, we edge them out in dramatic fashion. Bills coming into this game had lost 15 in a row to these guys and after the quick 21-0 lead, it was becoming the same old same old once again. A drubbing at home to the GOAT, Tom Brady.
Then Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills offense began to find its groove. The defense stepped up and made some stops and huge interceptions. And quickly after a Fred Jackson touchdown run, we found ourselves tied at 24 a piece heading into the fourth quarter when Drayton Florence picked off Tom Brady for the fourth time in the game, returning it all the way to give the Bills a touchdown lead. The Ralph was going to explode, it seemed like.
They could feel the tides turning in this game, but then Brady did what he does best, having another fourth-quarter comeback when he found Wes Welker for the game-tying touchdown with just over three minutes left. Unfortunately for the Pats, that was too much time to leave Fitzpatrick and company. They quickly maneuvered down the field and got into field goal range, when they very smartly took a couple of knees and set up Rian Lindell for the game-winning field goal as time expired.
If you don’t think that is the best win of the drought era then I’m very curious to hear what you think it is. Unfortunately for the Bills, the 2011 season didn’t end the way that it started. They went on to finish 6-10 and missed the playoffs once again, but that win and energy that was in the Ralph that day were unmatched.
Top five Buffalo Bills drought games. It’s nice that we can look back on this now and find the good moments in times of mostly frustration and sadness when today it sure seems like we are set up for long-term success with the group we have now. No more thinking that this could be our year, maybe we’ll make the playoffs, maybe we can finish with a winning record! Nope, those days are over.
Now it’s Super Bowl or bust for this team. Now the Bills are the king of the AFC East, and the Pats are going to be the ones looking up at us for years and years to come. Enjoy it Bills fans, it’s a great time to be alive. When Josh Allen and Sean McDermott deliver Buffalo’s first-ever Super Bowl, we will look back and laugh at these games and the 17-year-long drought that we endured, because all that suffering is finally worth it.
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