Bulldog: Staying alive

November 28, 2016
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I wrote it last week. The existence of the .500 team is such that when you reach this point of the NFL season, all a win does is make it necessary that you keep winning. Beat the Bengals last week? Congratulations. Now do it again. In this case, doing it again meant beating Jacksonville at home.

Truth be told, the Bills might have one loss to play with if the goal is 10 wins and a chance at a Wild Card spot. But there's no way you'd want it to come against the 2-8 Jaguars at home. There is also the possibility that 10 wins won't end up being enough which would of course mean that running the table would be required. That is likely to be a pretty heavy lift, one that wouldn't be possible dropping this game to Jacksonville.

So the Bills, to borrow the NCAA basketball tourney phrasing, survive and advance. They did it this week by getting a handful of big plays and being able to survive a rocky day otherwise from the offense.  

A rundown of the plays that swung this game the Bills way:

 

1.) A 43-yard punt return by Brandon Tate late in the 2nd quarter set the Bills up for their first touchdown which allowed them to go into halftime only trailing 7-6. LeSean McCoy provided the points, then Dan Carpenter spooked the fans by shanking the PAT.

2.) A 75-yard touchdown run by McCoy on the first play from scrimmage in the 3rd quarter. McCoy gave a little shake in the backfield and then it was a race that he ended up winning pretty comfortably. I know, easy for me to say.

3.) A 62-yard bomb to Sammy Watkins from Tyrod Taylor. Credit to Taylor for taking the shot when Watkins managed to beat Jalen Ramsey. More credit to Watkins, who recognized early that the ball was just slightly under thrown. Watkins very subtly slowed down just enough and used his big body to keep Ramsey off of him while keeping his focus on the ball, maintaining his balance, and making the catch in stride.

4.) A 25-yard catch and run by McCoy early in the 4th quarter. Taylor simply dumped it off in the flat to McCoy and the running back made one man miss and set the Bills up near mid field. A pass interference penalty put the Bills in pretty comfortable go ahead field goal territory, but they wouldn't need their kicker because they got one more nice play out of their passing game.

5.) A 16-yard touchdown pass from Taylor to Justin Hunter. Taylor gave his receiver a chance even though defenders were near enough to perhaps deter him. The ball was high and Hunter had to jump and twist to come down with it but he did exactly that. Great catch and a good decision by Taylor to give his guy a chance.

 

A chance. That's what the Bills have now. A chance to do more than just be mathematically alive. Win in Oakland and they may look ALIVE alive. Like really in it.  Lose and they'll drop to 6-6 and settle for, well, Bills fans know all too well what they'd be settling for. That's what is at stake next Sunday in Oakland.