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Losing to New England hurts for the Buffalo Bills, but perspective must be kept

A short memory can go a long way towards finding Playoff football.

When losses like this happen, I try to remember October 2, 1988. 

Ok, so I had to look up the date, but the game itself will never leave my memory. After a 4-0 start, a cocky, upstart Buffalo Bills team rolled into Soldier Field and got smoked by the Chicago Bears, 24-3. It wasn't even that close. The thing that sticks in my mind is one Thurman Thomas run. Then a rookie, he danced around in the backfield, tried to reverse field (maybe even twice), and ended with a large loss on the play. Kelly and the boys were thoroughly outplayed, and a little shine was stripped off the early success of that season.

The next week, what happened? They defeated then-division rival Indianapolis 34-23 to restore the course. Thus began a string of 7 victories, culminating in a memorable 9-6 overtime home victory over the New York Jets to secure their first division title in years. The turnaround from the ugly Kay Stephenson/Hank Bullough years was complete. 

The point? Don't let a humiliating loss get you down.

We've witnessed a lot of bad football teams in Western New York throughout the last 15 years. Overreactions are common when you get dumped on your tail by an opponent as hated as the New England Patriots. Sunday's 40-32 game was not nearly as close as the score indicates. While the resilience of the team was respectable to pull it back to within a score in the waning moments, the Patriots' dominance was unquestionable when the game was still available for the taking.

At 4:25 PM on Sunday, September 27, that loss means nothing. The score will be 0-0. 

If the Bills want to start looking like that 1988 Bills team that launched one of the greatest eras the region will ever see, they need to respond to the adversity of a bitter loss with a big division victory. They can do that against a Miami Dolphins team dealing with their own disappointing result yesterday. 

Rex Ryan and the team certainly need to learn lessons from yesterday. For whatever reason, the team wasn't able to adjust their demeanor and technique once it was clear the officials were going to be extra touchy. Ryan also stuck with the gameplan of a 4 man rush, even when his highly paid defensive line was held in check by Tom Brady and the New England offensive line. And Tyrod Taylor struggled in his role, save for the first drive and a few prevent-enabled surges.

We all can remember Bills teams that folded at the slightest hint of adversity against division opponents. The 2008 season started well until Trent Edwards was knocked out by Adrian Wilson. A loss to Miami began a horrid stretch that began the end of Edwards' career. And a 5-2 start in Chan Gailey's second year as Head Coach went down in flames after an ugly loss to Rex Ryan's Jets in 2011.

Will this Buffalo Bills team gather themselves and regain the composure they showed in defeating Indianapolis in Week 1? Or will they allow the dismantling done by a future Hall of Fame QB to derail a great opportunity to deliver playoff football to Western New York? Time will tell.

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