After reading the title to this post (my first), no one would question you if you thought I'd be discussing the deep ball to Evans and the subsequent jump ball to Hardy in the endzone for the go-ahead TD. Both those fourth quarter plays were super calls and executed just the way they had to be. But I have two other plays in mind, plays that were more subtle but in my mind had a huge impact on the outcome of the game.
They came earlier in that same 4th Q TD drive, and they actually came back to back (just like the two plays that capped off the drive) . I don't have access to the game film, and my streaming experience was jumpy enough that I didn't always get a great look at every play, so please feel free to correct me on the details.
The sequence began when the Bills still had the ball in their own territory; they had 2nd and 10. First, Edwards threw a screen pass to Jackson, and the result was an 8 or 9-yard gain, setting up 3rd and short. Jackson had had a number of huge plays in the game catching the ball and then making something big happen virtually all by himself, but this particular play was just a great call at just the right time, and Edwards and Jackson ran it perfectly. The Jags fell victim to the perfect call against their fast, aggressive defense,
Now, 3rd and short is obviously a much better situation to be in than 3rd and long, but the Bills haven't exactly had a ton of success with their power running game, so I was nervous. I didn't get a great look at the next play, but on 3rd and a long 1 (or short 2, however you look at it), the Bills set up in the I formation, with a deep back and an up back. I was expecting the dive up the middle, and was concerned the play would get stuffed and the drive would be over. I think the Jags' front 7 were salivating, thinking the same thing. Turk must have counted on this, because the Bills then ran some sort of quick-hitting misdirection play, with the whole flow of the offense going right, while Edwards handed the ball off to the upback (I thought it was Lynch, but I think it may have been Jackson) who went left. This was an awesome call (again, executed well) because
1. It was another great play to call (like the screen) against a fast, aggressive defense. (If you can accurately describe this running play in football terminology, please feel free to elaborate).
2. It was quick hitting - the RB had the ball in his hands and was practically at or beyond the line of scrimmage before the defense could react to the misdirection.
These two calls, how well they were executed, and the fact that Buffalo got a key first down, putting the ball, if I remember correctly, near the Bills' 40 yd line, were the plays that assured me this was no longer the same old coaching staff and the same old Bills. It was after these two plays that I actually started to Bill-ieve the Bills would win this game. And because of that, I'm excited about the Bills' chances this season, given that the offense is still the weakest link in the three phases, if any of them could be called weak at this point.
I'm a Bill-iever now!