By Sal Capaccio
Many of us - and you - correctly said it all week. It always came in some form of this:
"If the Bills want to take the next step, if they want to show things are changing here, losing a close game against the Ravens won't be enough. Playing hard and looking good at times, but losing, won't be enough. They HAVE to win."
Let's be honest. We've all said that same thing so many times before Sunday's game. And almost always, it didn't turn out the way we said it had to.
It was a game we have seen go the other way time and time again, especially in Orchard Park. And it almost did again. That same feeling we've all had all too often before just kept creeping up on us throughout the entire 2nd half and especially the last 7-8 minutes. The feeling of, "the Ravens will find a way to win this." Or - more accurately stated - "the Bills will find a way to lose."
But, this one turned out different. Sure, it took a long drive around the neighborhood, a few circles around the driveway, and then, even after that, backing into a few poles, but the Bills finally got this one into the garage (as my colleague The Bulldog would say). And the car looks the same either way. Because in the end, it doesn't matter how they got there. It was a win. They all count in the NFL. Good wins, bad wins, ugly wins, blowout wins, close wins. None of that matters when the standings are printed on Monday morning, or at the end of the season.
Because just like there are no moral victories when you lose (and there aren't in pro sports), there are also no immoral defeats when you win.
The Bills are 2-2. It doesn't matter how they got there. It does matter who they've beaten or who they lost to for divisional and conference records, of course. But in the grand scheme, the record is the record regardless of opponent. All wins and losses are counted the same.
Beating certain teams and organizations, however, can make the feeling a little bit different, both inside the organization and outside to the fans.
I know the Ravens are not the same team they were last year, but they're still a championship organization with very good, Super Bowl winning players. In fact, I've said for the last few years that THAT organization is what the Bills should aspire to be like. Consistent. A Winning culture. Everything this organization in Buffalo hasn't been for too long. From a top-notch owner in Steve Bisciotti, to one of the best talent-evaluators in the business in Ozzie Newsome, down a terrific head coach in John Harbugh. There are only a handful of organizations that have those kinds of people and consistent results over a solid period of time.
For the Bills, beating teams like the Ravens, especially the way they had to fight to do it, doesn't have to only be about a mark in the W column. It can represent something bigger. It can be the kind of game we look back upon and mark it as a defining moment in the growth and and culture of the organization.
Of course, we've been here before. Not often, but it's happened. Most notably the Patriots win in 2011. There was the hope - and some belief - that game was the springboard for a changing culture and attitude at One Bills Drive. It didn't turn out that way. So now, it's another chance. A chance to show things have changed and these Bills will consistently compete with, and even beat, the better teams and organizations in the NFL.
But for that belief to permeate, it has to be backed up quickly with another win - this time against a team they should take care of, despite what the odds-makers say. The Browns. Because after starting 0-2, the Browns have won games in Minnesota and against Cincinnati, which means in Cleveland, they're writing and saying the exact same thing about their team as I did here.
See you Thursday night.
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