That is what the Bills saw, in all its glory and goriness, while the nation watched the best game of the regular season send the Super Bowl favorite plummeting all the way from the AFC’s top seed to third place — behind the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets — in the AFC East.
It was the kind of game that Miller said he would have to explain to his children, the kind that prompted Vikings offensive tackle Brian O’Neill to shake his head as he walked off the field and announce, “Holy f—!”
It was the kind of game that the Vikings needed to finally arrive on the nation’s radar. And the kind that is going to produce — had better produce — a whole lot of reflection and self-scouting for the Bills.
“Von always says, ‘Don’t blink,'” receiver Stefon Diggs said quietly. “And I feel like we might be blinking a little bit.”
Perhaps that is it. For the third straight game, the Bills did not score a second-half touchdown. For the third straight game, Allen threw a red-zone interception, a continuation of a sloppiness that has marred his usual brilliance this season. Diggs noted that the Bills start sharp, but then hit a lull — he pointed to when he had a false start during a fourth quarter drive that ended with a punt. For the second straight game, they lost.
A 17-point road comeback against a team like the Bills undoubtedly answered the question that has followed the Vikings all season — yes, they are most assuredly for real, we know now. A rematch with the Bills in the Super Bowl suddenly looks a lot less like a long-shot than it did before kickoff.
But it also raised a host of questions about the Bills. Are they losing their focus? And then are they pressing when games are slipping away? Does Allen take so much on his shoulders that he is making mistakes in the name of trying to make plays? Certainly, that seemed to be the reason for the interception in the end zone that ended the game — it was simply a bad decision, made by a quarterback who wanted very badly to end the game definitively and victoriously, and perhaps, to make amends for getting his team in that jam in the first place.
Allen was disconsolate afterwards, staring into space, rarely making eye-contact, speaking so quietly he was hard to hear. That he was even playing with an injury to his throwing elbow is a testament to his toughness and competitiveness. That he is making an unusual number of errors creates problems that have to be fixed immediately, and has made him, improbably, as much the reason the Bills have lost their last two games as the reason they have won so many others.
“It comes down to my shoulders and my shoulders only,” he said of his interceptions and the fumbled snap.
Image & Story Credit: nfl.com