– Evan Sally
A common plot in storytelling is the noble hero facing immeasurable odds to beat a formidable enemy. The hero will enter the dragon’s lair and by some clever or creative way attempt to slay the evil beast. In storytelling the hero always wins, because a underdog story is often the best story. As our noble heroes prepare to enter the Patriots’ lair we hope this is our time for a heroic underdog story to be written.
But we all know that probably won’t be the case.
Our relationship with the Patriots as Bills fans is a complicated one. There’s the hatred an underdog feels toward someone that has contributed in keeping them down. There’s the feeling of futility every time the Bills play the Pats and those inevitably depressing graphics come up:
“Brady is 24-3 vs the Bills with 61 TDs and 19 INTs.”
Every year it gets more lopsided, and every year you shake your head a little more. There’s also the jealousy we feel toward a team that somehow accidentally drafted the best quarterback of all time. I think that’s the part of our Patriot Problem that’s always bothered me the most. It would be one thing if Brady had been some type of can’t miss prospect taken in the top 5 of the draft. I know it’s a story that’s been beaten to death, but at a fundamental level I can’t get over that they drafted Brady in the 6th round and that could have just as easily been us.
But I digress. As we approach another Bills road game in New England, I find myself feeling weirdly optimistic compared to Bills/Patriots games of old. This is for a couple of reasons; the injuries to Edelman, Dion Lewis and the Patriots offensive line slowing down the Patriots juggernaut offense; Jamie Collins’ mystery illness damaging their defense, and a rejuvenated Shady McCoy looking like a dynamic playmaker again. The biggest reason I’m feeling confident about this game, however, is the lack of pressure on the Bills. Of course the Bills are in a tight playoff race where every win matters, but to even the most pie in the sky Bills fans, no one expects a win Monday night. The players should be loose, and the coaches should take a few more chances in play calling. In fact the expectations now rest on the Patriots to beat a team they always beat and keep their undefeated record untarnished. Of course this is Tom Brady we’re talking about, and nothing will crush an optimistic Bills fan faster than a Brady pass to Gronkowski up the seam. But one of these years it will be different. Right?
Every time the Bills play the Patriots, I can’t help but imagine what it will be like when the burden of facing a dominant Tom Brady led Patriots team is off of our shoulders. Imagining what it will feel like to have a chance in the AFC East, to play against teams that don’t have a superhuman playing quarterback for them. As a 24 year old my entire life as a Bills fan has been filled with not only the playoff drought, but also with what the proverbial dragon Tom Brady has done to our noble heroes. Perhaps one day the Bills will be dominant themselves, routinely standing up to Brady and his Patriots. Perhaps one day we will slay the dragon for good and watch the once unnerving days of Brady and his dominance fade in our rearview mirrors. Perhaps that day is sooner rather than later. But for now, I’ll take a lucky win.
– Evan Sally (@Evan_Sally)