On New Year's Eve 2017, the Buffalo Bills would play their most meaningful game on the final day of the regular season since 2004. I was at a wedding in Providence, Rhode Island to witness the union of my friends, but what I really wanted to witness was the "re-union" of the Bills and the playoffs.
I had my plans all set. Watch the game from 1pm to 4pm at a hotel bar before the church. After the game, I would quickly change into my tuxedo and be ready to go on the bus to the wedding at 4:30pm. When the Buffalo game was flexed back to 4:25pm, it screwed up my entire plan and I didn't have a wedding planner to help me figure this out.
I was more than just a bit upset that I was going to be missing the most important Bills game in 13 years but friends come first. I figured I would watch the game on my phone using the NFL Sunday Ticket app in church and no one would be any the wiser. I felt pretty confident that God would understand.
That plan didn't work out either. The Bills were on the local television market in Providence so it was blacked out on the NFL Sunday Ticket app. I was stuck tracking the Bills game on my phone using the NFL Mobile app which meant I couldn't see the video of what was going on.
After church, my wife Amy and I headed back to the hotel before the reception started at 6:30pm. I went up to our room and put on the game. I saw that the Bills were driving so we stayed for a bit. It paid off as I got to witness the Kyle Williams touchdown run live to put the Bills ahead 19 to 0. I may not have cried during the wedding but I was crying like a baby now.
Amy and I were headed downstairs to the reception and I felt really good about what was going on in the Bills game. Despite my growing confidence, I was still too nervous to eat at cocktail hour.
Amy made sure I had a steady dose of Crown Royal and Cokes flowing through my veins to try and calm my nerves while I watched the Ravens game on my phone like a lunatic. I could sense myself starting to get kind of drunk and finally caved, allowing her to get me some penne a la vodka. At least it had vodka in it right? It was delicious but my stomach was still churning due to the emotions of the day and I'm obviously not talking about the wedding.
I could sense the Bengals losing their grip on their game and I could see Miami was somehow coming back too. When the Ravens finally took the lead from Cincinnati, I thought once again I would be the bridesmaid and not the bride. I started to brace myself for the worst.
We were ushered into the ballroom where we sat at table 14 waiting for the wedding party to be introduced. I continued watching on my phone while a crowd of my friends had gathered at this point. I was watching with the same seriousness that our political leaders did during the Osama Bin Laden raid as you can see from the picture below.
They introduced the wedding party, and then the bride and groom shared their first dance. All this was going on while I was trying to watch the Bengals drive to tie or win the game.
The band invited everyone onto the dance floor but I refused to get up. It was 3rd and 15 and the Bengals needed a first down. They managed only three yards, setting up a crucial 4th and 12. I felt bad holding my wife back as we were the only two people in attendance not on the dance floor but this was too important. I had the rest of my life to celebrate with the couple of the night, but I only had right now to watch this play.
Then it happened...
Andy Dalton connected with Tyler Boyd on a 49 yard touchdown pass to take the lead with 42 seconds left. I waited patiently for a flag but none was thrown. I knew the game wasn't over but I was more excited than Jessie Spano from Saved by the Bell on caffeine pills.
My wife was hanging over my back watching the play and I picked her up and gave her a piggy back ride out to the dance floor while sprinting towards my friends. When I found one of them, I started jumping up and down, hugging him, and yelling loudly, "The Bengals scored a touchdown! The Bengals scored a touchdown!".
After that dance, we went back to our seats and the speeches started. The maid of honor began first and the game ended while she was still giving her speech. I wanted to scream in jubilation but I was forced to restrain myself. I gave my wife a quick squeeze of the hand and that's how I acknowledged the Bills ending their 17 year playoff drought. I would have preferred to scream "Hell Fucking Yeah! The Streak is Dead!" from the top of a mountain, but hey, the Bills are in the playoffs, so I'm done complaining for a while.