Monday Night Lights: Raiders, Bills Gain from Loss
One's East Coast, the other West Coast.
Buffalo fans carry an innocuous blue collar sentimentality to them, while the Oakland fan base is concocted of a more dubious dichotomy: The wild and clinically insane.
But outside of Lambeau Field, no fans in the NFL care more, and thus, seeing both teams put on stellar efforts on Monday Night Football's opening slate was a refreshing sight to behold.
Buffalo, fresh from firing offensive coordinator Turk Schonert, were facing heated AFC East rival, the New England Patriots. Tom Brady was returning to captain the same offense that shattered offensive records just two seasons ago.
The Oakland Raiders, fresh from having assistant Randy Hanson put in a hospital by their head coach Tom Cable, were up against AFC West rivals, the San Diego Chargers.
The Patriots and Chargers are the consensus pick for this year's AFC Championship.
The Patriots and Chargers have two of the NFL's most potent offenses.
The Patriots and Chargers came into the game with 11 straight wins over their respective opponents.
To say that Buffalo and Oakland were underdogs would be a gross understatement to say the least; Vegas had both teams scheduled to lose by double digit margins.
Monday Night proved the old axiom, "that's why the game's played on the field and not paper", still holds true.
With the aid of an Aaron Schobel interception for a touchdown, the Buffalo Bills stifled the high powered Patriots offense and took a 14-10 lead into half time.
With the aid of a stifling defense, headed by the league's best defensive player Nnamde Asomugha, and a powerful 105 yards rushing, the Oakland Raiders had confidence heading into halftime with a 10-10 tie.
In a weird twist that would have bad luck chuckling along side coincidence, both teams saw a incredulous decision decide the outcome of their games.
For the Bills, it was Pro Bowl returner Leodis Mckelvin taking the ball from deep in the end zone and fumbling it back to the newly powered Patriots offense.
For the Raiders, it was when the referees overturned a dazzling catch before halftime from rookie Lois Murphy and ruled it a drop. Replay showed Murphy caught the ball, landed with two feet planted, and only released the ball once he was certain he had scored. This four point differential is what the Raiders inevitably lost by, making it even more heart-breaking.
For other teams these sorts of incidents would be unbelievably devastating. For the Raiders and Bills, it's just another Monday Night.
(Somewhere in the Midwest, the five Bengals fans remaining are nodding their heads sullenly.)
But in the loss, both teams found themselves in a better position then when the game first began. Trent Edwards moved the ball with relative skill and poise and the loss of Marshawn Lynch wasn't as devastating as once believed.
The addition of Richard Seymour (two sacks, six tackles) has turned the Raiders defense into one of the league's best. Removing the final drive of the game, the Raiders defense stifled the high-powered Chargers offense. LaDainian Tomlinson's best games have usually come against the notoriously porous Raiders run defense, leading to an average of nearly 120 yards per game. On Monday night, he was held to half of that and was even replaced in favor of Darren Sproles.
While it is very likely that neither of these teams makes the playoffs this year, there is a bright spot submerged beneath all the flaws:
Their tremendous fans can laugh at the Bengals all season.
(Somewhere in the Midwest, the five remaining Bengals fans are nodding their heads again.)
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