By Ch2 Sports Director Ed Kilgore
Ok, be honest, how many of you reading this thought the Bills would come back against the Raiders after getting physically pushed around in the first half, all but being embarrassed as many in the sell out crowd of 68,191 booed their team as it went to the locker room trailing 21-3?
If you say you knew the Bills would score a touchdown on EVERY possession in the second half, I know you're lying, 'cause it had never happened in the entire history of the NFL until it happened in the second half against the Raiders. The Bills had five possessions, and scored a td on every one of 'em.
They needed every point, of course, as the Bills defense simply couldn't get off the field on third down and the Raiders piled up 26 first downs, 454 yards and 35 points. Incredibly, led by everybody's favorite Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick and the most underrated player in the NFL in Fred Jackson, the Bills racked up 481 yards, 34 first downs and 38 points.
Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you the Bills have improved to the point they'll make the playoffs this season, although a 2-0 start is often rewarded with an extended season. But after two games, and yes, the KC Chiefs are a bad football team, the Bills are clearly and without argument improving under head coach Chan Gailey and gm Buddy Nix.
Gailey neatly sidestepped somebody's post game question about whether or not Fitz was a "franchise quarterback", by saying he didn't want to put a name on Fitzpatrick other than that he is a winner. It's quite obvious Gailey and Fitz are on the same page offensively, and even C.J. Spiller played a role in the win over the Raiders.
Spiller had four carries for 63 yards and caught a pass for six, and showed that great burst that led the pre-Nix Bills staff draft him high in the first round.
But as good as Fitzpatrick was, and he was terrific hitting 28 of 46 for 264 yards, 3 td's with one int, it was Jackson who ignited the second half comeback.
The Bills needed a spark coming out of the locker room down 21-3, and they did receive the kickoff after deferring to start the game, and Jackson ripped off a splendid 43 yard td run on that possession to get the crowd back into the game. The Raiders totally shut down the Broncos running game a week ago in Denver, but the Bills, led by Jackson's 117 on 15 carries, racked up 217 yards rushing against the Raiders. Another surprisingly solid outing by the o-line helped spring Jackson and Spiller - and don't forge Brad Smith's 14 yards on three carries out of the Wildcat - and that is what opened up the passing game.
The Bills may be the only team in the league that thought Fitzpatrick, a former 7th round pick, and Jackson, not even drafted, could play, and yet they are two of the hottest players in the NFL after two weeks.
Stevie Johnson continues to show he CAN be a #1 guy, and his 8 catches for 96 yards and a td were even more impressive because he's not at full speed and suffered cramps late in the game as well. What can you say about David Nelson, another of the Bills undrafted players who can flat out play? Nelson, getting extra reps with Roscoe Parrish hurt early, had 10 catches for 83 yards and the winning td with only 14 seconds left.
Donald Jones had 4 catches for 24 yards, but his breakup of a sure int on the final drive and a clutch, finger tip fourth down grab on the same drive were the difference in a w or an l.
Defensively, the Bills still have work to do for sure. The Raiders converted 8 of 12 third downs, and 67 per cent isn't good enough. While the run d is improved to the point it isn't the league's worst, the hard-charging Raiders still had 131 yards on the ground and a 4.4 per rush average.
But now we're into nit-picking. The Bills are 2-0, and they're an exciting team that believes in what it can accomplish. They are a team that, right now anyway, is greater than the sum of its parts.
If the Bills could find a way to knock off the Patriots next week, then we might advance this speculation a bit more, but for now, Bills fans can feel comfort in knowing that finally, after years of futility, they are on the right track.