Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are officially Bills fans. Fresh off of the 6-3 home loss to the lowly Cleveland Browns last week, a game in which the offense was as anemic as a Ralph Lauren supermodel, the Bills (2-4) picked off rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez six times to defeat the New York Jets, 16-13, in overtime. The sloppy victory marked the Bills first division win since Buffalo Bill Cody played defensive back in the 1890's.
OK, maybe not that long ago, but two seasons since a division win is a long time.
With an injury to Trent Edwards in the first quarter, Bills backup quarterback and Harvard graduate Ryan Fitzpatrick looked crisp and distributed the ball well off the pine. Playing in windy conditions that clearly got the best of Sanchez, Fitzpatrick was 10-of-25 for 116 yards coupled with a touchdown and a pick. If there were a MENSA for backup NFL quarterbacks, this guy would be the chairman. With Edwards' status uncertain for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers, the Bills offensive staff can give Fitzpatrick the stamp of approval quicker than a health care bill plowing through the White House.
Maybe Fitzpatrick's numbers weren't flashy. But unlike Edwards he showed a willingness to go downfield to his wide receivers. He didn't retreat to checkdowns, something fans have become painfully accustomed to.
For a moment there, it looked as if Fitzpatrick's valiant effort was going to go in vain. Bills kicker Rian Lindell did his best Scott "Nor-wide" impression, missing a 46-yarder wide right as time expired. Despite the miss, Buffalo circled the wagons and put themselves in a position to win the game on a 47-yard re-try with three minutes remaining in overtime. This time, Lindell's kick was true.
The unit that kept the Bills in the entire game was the defense. Even though Perry Fewell's crew gave up 414 total yards on the day, 318 of those on the ground, Buffalo's six takeaways kept the team in the game. Rookie defensive back Jairus Byrd flocked to, and intercepted, two Sanchez lame ducks. The aptly named Reggie Corner, captain George Wilson, and John Wendling all chipped in with an interception apiece. And Paul Posluszny, itching to get on the field after five weeks of injury, had a key interception in overtime to set up the clutch victory. Buffalo had playmakers roaming in the secondary all game, confusing Sanchez at every turn.
Unlike the New England and Cleveland meltdowns, the Bills hung on.After such a performance, the real question now is: what team are Bills fans supposed to believe in? The optimistic ones are saying still say 10-6 is a reality. The pessimistic ones are saying that the victory was a flash in the frying pan in which Dick Jauron's rear-end currently sits. With an upcoming trip to Carolina (2-3) in the mix, the Bills must show that they can win two games in a row. I'm not exactly optimistic about the final record of the 2009 campaign, but Buffalo has the opportunity to prove all of the pessimists wrong.
We'll just have to wait and see whether Dr. Jekyll shows up in Carolina or Mr. Hyde makes another appearance.