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Knocked Out Teeth (or "Who are we Cheering For?")

Last week it was Tre White, hurling back his helmet, not just in agony, but in sheer frustration, knowing it would be another year–at best–before he would set foot on the field, clad in red, white, and blue. Then last week, the dynamic and nearly superhuman heart-and-soul of our defense, and DaQuan “I’m Quietly Having the Best Season of any DT Not Named Aaron Donald” Jones succumbed to what appear to be season-ending injuries.

I called my buddy, Dave Palermo, to talk about the Jags implosion, and described how I felt: “Dave,” I said, “You know what this feels like?”

“What, man?”

“It feels like you managed to get into a bar-room brawl, the night before your wedding, and got your front teeth knocked out!” There was a moment of silence for our Super Bowl hopes to–yet again–wither on the vine, before we tried to grasp whatever hope-straws we could come up with.

McDermott, at least in the past couple of years, has more and more come around to the conclusion that games are won and lost in the trenches. I think many of us Bills fans had grown weary of Frazier’s bend-don’t-break, under-athletic DB’s giving Cincy wideouts enough acreage to raise 10,000 heads of cattle, and were beginning to embrace what McD’s D had become, prior to the Jags loss: A complimentary set of offensive and defensive lines, capable of winning trench warfare, week after week.

That is, until two All-Pro, and one looking-to-be-an-All-Pro defensive players went down for the season. When you’re trying to build from the trenches, and suddenly there’s an empty tunnel straight through the heart of your defense: Trench, middle tier, and back-end, what can you do to recover?

We all witnessed A.J. Epenesa try and single-handedly take the entire Bills D on his back, against the Jags. He nearly was able to do so, and you can’t help but applaud the player for literally putting himself on the sideline in an oxygen mask.

We saw the 3rd round rookie, Dorian Williams, step in for Milano on that 2nd tier and give a good effort, though you can’t expect him to play with the free-wheeling ferocity that Milano’s experience affords him; it’s just too much to ask for Williams to step into an All-Pro, near-superhuman’s shoes and embody the coach-speak “Next-Man-Up”. It’s just not happening.

And with Kendall “I Was Bagging Groceries at WalMart Last Weekend” Vickers stepping in for DaQuan Jones, did any Bills fan think we were going to see the kind of manhandling coming from the DT position that Jones had been serving up every meal?

So, going into this Sunday night tilt with the G-Men, I have one question: Just who are we cheering for? Are we cheering for the Buffalo Bills who–aside from Allen’s sugar-high,

single-handed loss to the J-E-S-T-S–had taken over the throne of the NFL, or are we praying we can squeak by a Giants squad that is literally starting a player who wasn’t good enough to lead the 17-year-playoff-drought Bills?

Grab your popcorn and look up some new names and numbers, kiddos: If we are going to end the Western New York century-spanning heartache, we’re going to have to do so with a new set of teeth, because those that have been knocked out aren’t coming back any time soon. Thank God for the G-Men, and Daboll: Don’t be too harsh on us.

–Tim Avery - 10/15/23

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