It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
Buffalo fell behind 14-0 on Sunday, but the team scored 17 unanswered points and the Bills beat the Lions 17-14. The win kept the Bills in first place in the AFC East heading into Week 6. After the big victory, here are 10 things I Billieve about the team’s win.
1. The Switch to Kyle Orton was the Right Move
The QB change didn’t start out well, but Kyle Orton proved that the Bills knew what they were doing by naming him the starting QB. Orton had one truly terrible pass that went for a pick-six, but after that he played considerably better.
Detroit, one of the best defenses in the league, was carved up by Orton. The QB went 30-of-43 for 308 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. It was a strong performance considering Orton didn’t take any snaps with his teammates in training camp or the preseason.
The Bills feel that they can win the AFC East this season, and after one week, the move seems to be paying off.
2. Doug Marrone Will Bench Anyone If He Feels They’re Not Doing Their Job
Early in the game, Kyle Orton was sacked very quickly on a play. Replays showed that C.J. Spiller’s block attempt was lackluster at best. After that play, Spiller wasn’t heard from again until Fred Jackson suffered a minor injury.
Spiller is one of Buffalo’s most elusive weapons, but Marrone was out to prove a point. If you don’t do your job, you’ll find yourself on the bench. I’m sure that Spiller and many others heard that message loud and clear.
3. We Should All Say a Prayer or Two for Ron Brooks
Today was a great win, but don’t forget about Ron Brooks. On a return, Brooks had a Lions player pushed into him. The player hit Brooks in the legs and the defensive back was up-ended. Brooks landed directly on his head and was tended to for a long time before being taken off on a cart. Brooks waved to the crowd as he was taken off the field and was sent to a nearby hospital for evaluation. According to Tim Graham, Brooks will be staying the night at the hospital. Say a few prayers for a full recovery for Brooks.
4. Stefan Charles Stepped Up
There’s no replacing Kyle Williams, but Stefan Charles played well. The stat sheet will only show two tackles, but Charles did well on Sunday. He applied pressure in pass defense and showed that the run defense could still be formidable with him and Marcell Dareus in the middle.
While every Bills fan wants to see Kyle Williams back ASAP, the team has strong depth in Stefan Charles.
5. Marcell Dareus is Scary Good and Will Get Better
Yes, I have my worries about Marcell Dareus. He did his own version of The Fast and the Furious this off-season and was arrested in Alabama for possession of a controlled substance. They’re certainly some red flags off the field. On the field, Marcell Dareus is a man among boys. He finished Sunday’s game with 5 solo tackles and three sacks and a forced fumble. He played a major role in disrupting Matthew Stafford on Sunday.
Dareus is only 24 years old and will get continue to get better. That’s scary to think about. Eventually, the Bills will need to pay Dareus big money. He’s earned it.
6. The Bills Beat the Lions and the Referees
I’m not someone who believes that the NFL is rigged. However, I do believe that referees will show bias and have a history of doing so. That happened at times on Sunday. Twice, flags were thrown that were going to be against the Lions. Twice, the referees declared that the flag needed to be picked up as there was no penalty. I still don’t understand how that works. A referee sees a penalty and throws a flag. Then he’s talked out of it by his peers? Makes no sense. On one play, Sammy Watkins had one arm pinned down. The referees decided it was a legal play. A similar penalty happened shortly thereafter and again the referees decided to pick up the flag. These were momentum killers for the Bills and could have proven costly. Instead, the Bills did enough to overcome the Lions and the referees.
All I’m asking from the referees is that if they throw a flag, they actually follow through with the call. I really don’t think it’s asking too much.
7. Kickers Matter
Dan Carpenter is dependable and in the NFL you need a dependable kicker. Yes, Carpenter missed a field goal on Sunday, but more times than not he hits them. Against the Lions, you saw what an unreliable kicker looked like. Alex Henery had three field goal attempts and he missed them all. One looked like it was going to curve in, but it hit off a goal post. The other two weren’t even close.
In the NFL, you need a reliable kicker. For that reason, Henery will probably be without a job sooner rather than later. The Bills on the other hand have their guy. When Dan Carpenter took the field for a 58 yard field goal, I felt extremely confident in him. Needless to say, 58 yard kicks are far from gimmes, but I knew Carpenter could do it. His kick sailed through with distance to spare and the Bills moved to 3-2 thanks to him connecting on 3-of-4 field goal attempts.
8. Jim Schwartz Did A Fantastic Job in His Homecoming
Jim Schwartz downplayed this game to the media, but he wanted this. In fact, he told the Bills during OTAs that he wanted to be carried off on their shoulders if they beat the Lions, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Being carried off may have been a bit over the top, but it was also deserved. On Sunday, Schwartz held the Lions to seven offensive points. His playcalls flustered Matthew Stafford and his run defense held the Lions to 20 carries for 69 yards.
Schwartz is one of the biggest reasons that the Bills are 3-2. They’ve been in all five contests and his homecoming had a terrific ending for Bills fans. Here’s to hoping his game plan against New England will be a great one.
9. Ralph Wilson Went Out Victorious
Today was Buffalo’s last game with Ralph Wilson as their owner. It’s fitting that the game was in Detroit, where Wilson spent much of his life. In his last game as owner, the Bills pulled out a gritty 17-14 win. It was the perfect ending to Wilson’s tenure as owner.
This week, Terry and Kim Pegula will be named the second owners of the Buffalo Bills. They’ll be inheriting a 1st place team and their first game will be against the Patriots, a team who has dominated Buffalo. The Ralph will be rocking on Sunday and a new era will begin, but it’s important that we remember how great of an owner the Bills had in Wilson. He loved Buffalo and made sure that moving the team would be near impossible after his passing.
This week, we found out that millions of the $1.4 billion from the sale of the team will go to the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation. That money will go directly to charitable causes in Buffalo and Detroit. Even after his passing, Wilson went out of his way to take care of Buffalo. Thanks for everything Mr. Wilson and congratulations on going out with a big victory.
10. I’m Going to Miss Writing for BillsMafia.com
In December, I was asked if I’d run the BillsMafia website. I didn’t hesitate when I said yes and I’ve never had more fun writing. This site is special. There is a group of extremely talented writers here and my departure is no big deal. I’m just one cog in the wheel and I’m a replaceable cog at that. This site will continue to be a must-visit place for Bills news and commentaries.
Where does one go after leaving the Mafia? Generally, witness protection. That said, this is a Mafia where if an opportunity arises, they encourage you to take it. I’ll be heading over to Scout.com to cover the Bills. I’m excited for the opportunity and thankful to Del, Leslie, Bre and all of the talented writers I worked with here and everywhere else along my path as a writer. I’ll still be coming here daily to read articles and I can’t wait to see where this site goes.