I think it's pretty great when what you're pretty sure is going to be a soul crushing disappointment turns out to be cause for celebration instead. I have to admit, with about 6 minutes to go to go in the 3rd quarter and the Ravens getting the ball back, I turned to Howard Simon and said it felt like the Bills were not going to be winning for very much longer. They were ahead 20-14 at the time but I was feeling pretty uneasy.
I've said many times in the past that despite the Bills flair for breaking the hearts of their fans I do not make a habit of thinking things are about to unravel. I'm not sure why this time was different. Maybe it was something I ate. I don't know.
However it happened, I felt a sense of dread and I bet I had plenty of company. We lead the league in angst. Then something pretty cool happened. Joe Flacco threw the ball right to the interception machine that is Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso. It was Flacco's 4th interception of the day and in no time the Bills were knocking on the door of taking the game back. It seemed they had when EJ Manuel found fellow rookie Robert Woods in the end zone. But this being the NFL the play was reviewed and ruled an incomplete pass and the Bills had to settle for a field goal that put them up 9. It was not the knockout punch they were looking for but did seem to calm them down and steer the game to the garage.
They almost found the ditch again later and it wasn't until Kiko Alonso barely came up with his 2nd pick to thwart a Baltimore drive that could have tied or even won the game. That the Bills were able to hold off the Ravens with the collection of cornerbacks that included Brandon Burton, Nickell Robey, and the rather toasty Justin Rogers is pretty much incredible to me.
Aaron Williams had a tremendous game going but ultimately was forced to the sideline with a back injury. Prior to departing, Williams had a pair of interceptions including a spectacular leaping acrobatic job in the end zone. Pressed back into duty at cornerback due to mounting injuries, Williams had his best day as a Bill and battled as long as he could. He deserves a lot of credit today.
EJ Manuel had an uneven day, losing the ball a couple of times and under throwing a deep ball to an open Robert Woods. But the Bills rookie QB did make a few really nice throws, especially on his touchdown to Woods.
Unlike last week, the Bills got their ground game really going and that is what won them the game. The Bills used fullback Frank Summers and plenty of two tight ends to pave the way. They slowed the pace of their no huddle at times, ran the ball and kept it for more than 36 minutes.
The defense obviously did a great job taking the ball away from the Ravens five times. I've already mentioned the effort of Aaron Williams. Kiko Alonso is a revelation at linebacker. In on lots of tackles and picking off those two passes. Alonso has taken the ball away in every game so far this season and has 4 interceptions. We've used the phrase difference maker when talking about the needs of the defense for years. Maybe, finally in Alonso they have one.
So we're at the quarter pole and the Bills have a 2-2 record which pretty much I would've taken considering the Patriots and Ravens were two of the first four opponents. Cleveland is up next and after that it's the Bengals at home. The Bills, despite being pushed around last week against the Jets, have been in every game.
I'm not about to start predicting any kind of long range happy ending for the 2013 Bills. But if they find a way to win Thursday night in Cleveland the next home game against the Bengals is going to feel pretty big.