This was the lead to a column on Monday in the Boston Globe by veteran sportswriter Dan Shaugnessy:
"ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.—We are reeling. Our world no longer makes sense. The Patriots can’t even beat the Buffalo Bills anymore."
Shaughnessy has been covering the Patriots for many years and, I suppose, feels a bit entitled at this point, having witnessed his beloved team romp through the previous decade as one of the most successful football franchises in NFL history.
That included a 15-game winning streak against the long-time hapless Bills.
Between 2001-05 the Patriots won three Super Bowls in four years. From October 2003 to October of the following year, the Pats, under head coach Bill Belichick and uber-quarterback Tom Brady, won 21 games in a row (including playoffs), a record that has not been surpassed.
And this year, heading into their showdown in Western New York, New England was 2-0 and Brady amassed almost 1,000 yards passing in just those first two games—remarkable.
That all changed on Sunday as Buffalo—the "new-look Bills"—stormed back from 21 points down and overtook New England, 34-31. Shaughnessy was inconsolable and could not believe the big, bad world beaters from New England could lose to a team like Buffalo—a team they owned for eight years.
He went on to write:
In a skittish September of cataclysmic Red Sox freefall, we still had the Patriots over the Bills. It was right there with death, taxes, and the first penalty in Montreal. Just as Rick and Ilsa always had Paris, we always had the Patriots over the Bills. It was a sure thing.
But now it’s all gone. On a day when Tom Brady was intercepted four times, the Patriots blew a 21-0 lead and lost to the Bills, 34-31, in front of 68,174 long-suffering witnesses at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Patriots had beaten the Bills 15 consecutive times since 2003.
Making matters worse, the giddy locals rubbed it in by playing “Livin’ On a Prayer,’’ and “Sweet Caroline’’ over the loudspeaker system.
Yeesh. You know it’s bad when they are mocking you in Buffalo.
I felt compelled to respond to his column.
I would have left a comment on your website, but it seems the Globe hasn’t joined the rest of the free world yet with online comments for readers.
Anyway, I wanted to take just a minute to thank you for a fun read today. As a long-suffering Bills fan, I could not have been happier and more proud of the team and the fans than I was yesterday. And your "I sure feel sorry for our Patriots” column only added to the blue skies over Buffalo.
I really like Boston as a city. But when it comes to sports, Buffalo and Boston just never seem to get along (Sabres vs. Bruins, Pats vs. Bills, John Y. Brown selling the Buffalo Braves up the Niagara River). I think the Patriots enjoy beating up on the Bills—it’s what they do.
But yesterday they ran into a much improved Bills team, one that carries a different attitude into their games this year than in years' past.
For me, one of the sweetest moments was watching Bill Belichick come unglued during the final two minutes, screaming at the officials and burning two timeouts. Must have been quite the festive postgame press conference with Hoodie.
I can’t say I feel sorry for the Patriots. Buffalo will certainly have their hands full when they come to Foxborough.
And, based on your column today, I would have to say that the Bills still have a ways to go until they earn the respect of sports columnists from Boston. That’s okay, I would rather they play under the proverbial radar for as long as they can. This team is for real.
I've been working and living in Los Angeles for many years, but my football heart remains in Buffalo, New York. I realize it wasn't a Super Bowl—it was the third game of a long, 16-game NFL season.
But, for the fans and the city, this win meant so much more. It was exciting to hear Bills play-by-play radio announcer John Murphy on the call as the seconds ticked down and kicker Rian Lindell iced the game with three seconds left.
It sort of felt like the early 1990s, when Buffalo dominated the league. And that included the Patriots. But New England is formidable and will give the Bills fits when the two meet again in Foxborough later in the season.
For the time being, the shoe is on the other foot and the Bills would be excused if they wanted to rain on New England's parade for just a few more days. They deserve as much—but they probably won't.
Why? Because they know the difference between class and crass.
Take note, Boston sportswriters.