The Buffalo Bills faced one of their toughest challenges of the season against the Atlanta Falcons while I was personally battling one of the worst hangovers of my life after drinking too much and eating too little at a wedding the night prior to the game. Having a few beers during this game was going to be tough, but I was determined to do it. #NoDaysOff.
The first quarter started off slow for both teams with neither scoring a point while I barely made it through my first beer by the end of the quarter. It was a poor performance by everyone so far, especially myself. LeSean McCoy had the most notable play of the first quarter with an 18 yard gain on a short throw on 3rd and 17 for a first down.
The second quarter didn't start off much better. On another 3rd and long, Tyrod Taylor scrambled looking for a receiver before going out of bounds. He kept running towards a wall and crashed into it while slipping on what appeared to be a turf mat. It almost looked like he was trying to knock himself out of the game which is an interesting strategy Cotton.
Atlanta would put up the first points of the game on a drive which included a 29 yard run by Tevin Coleman. On the play, Micah Hyde got a hand on him preventing the touchdown. The Bills defense once again was able to bend but not break only giving up three points. At this point, my hangover was starting to bend, but still wasn't broken. I was finally starting to gain some momentum.
The Bills would score a touchdown on the next drive which included a lot of familiar plays this season. A missed connection with a wide open Zay Jones, Tyrod Taylor running on third down to pick up a first down, a beautiful Tyrod pass to Charles Clay on a broken play for a long gain and on the next play Taylor capped the drive with a 9 yard touchdown pass to Jordan Matthews. The Bills took the lead 7 to 3.
On Atlanta's last possession of the half, they moved the ball well on a 78 yard drive. They scored a touchdown to make it 10 to 7 in their favor before the half. It was clear the Bills had a tough task ahead of them but I was feeling upbeat about their chances in the second half. It could have just been my hangover starting to subside while being replaced with a slight buzz but I'll just call it momentum for now.
1 Awful headache
1 Slight buzz
Atlanta 10 - Buffalo 7
The Bills punted on their first drive of the second half after going three and out. Not the start to the half I had hoped for but the defense bailed them out. Matt Ryan was strip sacked on what initially appeared to me to be a forward pass but the replay was not enough to overturn the call. Tre'Davious White picked up the fumble and ran it 52 yards for his first career NFL touchdown giving Buffalo a 14 to 10 lead.
It might have been the touchdown, or the fact that I rock a Tre White jersey on Sunday's, but the beers were starting to actually taste good now and I was starting to get in a groove just as the Bills were doing the same. This was truly a team effort.
Atlanta seemed to have had enough at this point. They fumbled on the kickoff right after the Bills touchdown but luckily recovered. Then Matt Ryan lobbed up one of the ugliest passes I have seen (like Carrot Top ugly), floating it in the air so long that Micah Hyde was easily able to come down with the interception for the Falcons second straight drive ending in a turnover.
Buffalo would take the ball down the entire field but on a fourth and goal from the 1 yard line, they played it conservative by kicking a field goal, despite me yelling at the TV from my couch that I wanted them to go for it. Steven Hauschka converted the field goal and Buffalo was ahead 17 to 10.
The Falcons came right back at Buffalo with another long Tevin Coleman play for 28 yards. They would push the ball down to Bills' 3 yard line. On third and goal, the Falcons completed a pass to Justin Hardy in the end zone to tie the game at 17. It was the first passing touchdown given up by the Bills this season.
Buffalo wasted no time striking back on a five play 37 yard drive which ended with a 56 yard field goal by Steven Hauschka a.k.a. "Hausch Money" to push the Bills ahead 20 to 17. Atlanta tried to respond but Micah Hyde would intercept Matt Ryan on the next drive which would give the Bills another shot at a long field goal.
After becoming the first kicker in Bills history to hit two 50+ yard field goals in a game last week, Steven Hauschka decided that it was so much fun he wanted to do it again. He blasted the 55 yard field goal through the uprights with just over 3 minutes left in the game to give the Bills a 23 to 17 edge. I was so happy about Hauschka's kick that I wanted to kiss him more than Joe Namath wants to kiss Suzy Kolber.
The decision to kick it, shows that Sean McDermott has a ton of faith in Hauschka because if he missed, it would have given the Falcons great field position with a chance at a field goal to tie or a touchdown for the victory. On their last possession, Atlanta was able to move the ball down to the Bills 10 yard line but the Bills defense forced an incomplete pass on fourth and one which sealed the game as my lips sealed around a fresh beer.
The Bills were triumphant against one of the hardest opponents they will play this year, just as I was equally impressive battling a crippling hangover but still managing to plow through a six pack during the game.
Buffalo has now played three straight games against teams in the past two Super Bowl's and have hung in all three of them, while winning two. Now that it's obvious that the Bills are going to win the Super Bowl this year, the only real question is how many Super Bowl's in a row will they win? I'll start conservatively with a guess of five.
1 Monster headache
1 Afternoon nap badly needed
Buffalo 23 - Atlanta 17