Funny thing, hope is. Especially for Buffalo Bills fans.
Even 13 years into the longest playoff drought in the NFL, the Bills have done enough through two preseason games to give their fans hope the streak might – just MIGHT – not reach 14.
But with every pro comes a con.
- The Bills clobbered the Indianapolis Colts - a playoff team – in the preseason opener. True, but the Colts were playing third-stringers by the second quarter.
- The Bills again looked great Friday, beating the Minnesota Vikings 20-16. Also true, but – again – third-stringers.
- EJ Manuel had another game with another great drive Friday, opening the second half with a 14-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped off by a touchdown throw to Brad Smith. OK, but he only threw for 92 yards on 10-for-12 passing – a nice completion percentage, but he again did not try to throw the long ball the Bills' offense has so sorely lacked since the Drew Bledsoe days.
- The defense was awesome Friday night! Even allowing two late Vikings scoring drives, the Bills only yielded 256 total yards. They forced the Vikings to score on fourth down in one drive, stopping them three times at the goalline, and forced Minnesota into a four-and-out to end the game. Yes, but Adrian Peterson didn't even dress. That's like playing poker with someone but withholding all their face cards.
The Bills are 2-0 in the preseason. Everyone knows it's the preseason. But 2-0 is not a familiar feeling for Bills fans. Even with the knowledge it really means nothing, it STILL means something for Buffalo's fan base.
Manuel seemingly separated himself from Kevin Kolb, who started but went only 13-of-21 for 111 yards with an interception. Manuel has not set the world on fire, but he brings an excitement to the field that's lacked from the quarterback position since Buffalonians happily scarfed up Flutie Flakes.
Coach Doug Marrone insisted after the game Friday no decision on who will be the starter has been made. But anyone with the gift of sight is able to discern the rookie at the very least deserves a shot.
And that, in itself, further fuels the fire of hope raging among Bills fans. So does the fact the Bills' running attack, paced by third-stringer Tashard Choice (54 yards) and fourth-stringer Zach Brown (32 yards), piled up 173 yards. If the Bills can, in any game, combine for 40 rushing attempts and 36 passing attempts, the day will likely end well.
Next weekend in Washington, when the Bills and Redskins will play their starters into the third quarter, will serve as a better litmus test of how far the Bills may go in 2013. But the Bills have done nothing thus far to dissuade fans' hope, at least, and that's already more than has been felt from this team in recent years.
Funny thing, hope is. Once you get a taste, you don't ever want to stop.
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