So much for that idea.
The Buffalo Bills did little to impress its target fan base in Toronto in a brutal, 16-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins Sunday. Buffalo's offense was held to 163 total yards and Chad Pennington completed his final 11 passes, as the Dolphins (8-5) moved into a three way tie atop the AFC East.
Meanwhile, the Bills' free-fall continued. The once 4-0 and 5-1 Bills are now 6-7, searching for answers all over. In the cozy confines of Toronto's Rogers Centre (where there were more cheers for Miami than Buffalo), the Dolphins dominated in every aspect of the game and now Buffalo is all but officially eliminated from postseason contention.
As he has all season, Pennington was near-flawless at the controls. Completing 23-of-29 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown to tight end Anthony Fasano, Miami's quarterback calmly picked Buffalo's embattled defense apart. Pennington is now only the third Dolphins player ever to eclipse 3,000 yards passing (the other two were Dan Marino and Jay Fiedler).
Consistency on one side. Dysfunction on the other.
The J.P. Losman-led Bills offense only mustered three points – a 40-yard boot from Rian Lindell in the first quarter. Buffalo has gone nearly nine quarters without an offensive touchdown. Trent Edwards missed Sunday's game with a groin injury suffered last week against San Francisco. In his place, Losman was Losman: wildly erratic. The contrast between the two quarterbacks decided the game.
Whereas Pennington's steady hand guided Miami to four scoring drives that helped eat up more than 37 minutes on the clock, Losman never found a rhythm. The Bills converted a measly 1-of-10 third downs, thus only controlling the ball for 22 minutes. Losman fumbled three times (losing one) and threw an interception, as the Pennington-led Fins committed zero turnovers.
Those same old Losman tendencies sprouted yet again. The happy feet. The heap-and-hopes. The carelessness. The overall state of constant panic. It was his career and this team in a nutshell.
If the Bills' performance was meek. Fan support was meeker. A game designed to majestically tap into a colossal Toronto market, looked more like reaching for straws. Dolphins jerseys dotted the stadium everywhere, Argonaut and Blue Jay banners hung from the rafters and that negative-wind chill that has given Miami fits for so many years was replaced by a closed roof and 68-degree climate-controlled conditions. Eww.
Also pacing Miami's offense was the rushing tandem of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. The ‘Wildcat' duo combined for 110 yards. Marshawn Lynch, fresh off 332 yards in his last three games, was stuffed all day. Lynch only garnered 31 yards on 13 carries.
But the story was a pathetic atmosphere. Sunday was the regular-season kickoff of the Bills' eight-game Toronto Series. Outside the wind gusted off Lake Ontario to create a zero-degree wind chill --- the type of weather the Bills' home fan base dreams of. The type of weather fans have consistently trucked through to Ralph Wilson Stadium to wildly support their team despite eight straight non-playoff season.
But on Sunday that didn't matter. Inside the up-scale Rogers Centre --- despite the gross ineptitude of a floundering team --- the Bills made nearly $10 million. Fans back home were slighted. Fans in Toronto were delighted to a boring, touchdown-less effort from the Bills.
But money was made. In the end that's all the Bills have to clutch to after another dismal performance.