I happen to go to school in Ohio, so when I discovered that the Bills were going to be playing in Cleveland this year I circled the date on my calendar (figuratively - I wish I were that organized). There are a good number of Browns fans at my school, and far too many Steelers fans. Last year, my one friend who is a Browns fan told me that he has season tickets and that if the Bills ever played in Cleveland, we should go together. Consequently, yesterday I made the drive to Cleveland with my Browns fan friend, as well as another one of my friends who is a Bears fan. The game was amazing and I'd like to share some of my favorite moments/observations from the day.
First of all, I'd like to say I have a lot of respect for Cleveland fans. They do football the right way, especially their tailgating. While walking through the Municipal Lot I wore my jacket zipped up over my Bills attire out of respect for my friend who provided me with a ticket. I think the best sight in the Municipal Lot was a guy driving around in a riding lawn mower with the seat replaced by a brown armchair and the front replaced by a full-sized orange sofa arranged longways so that three people could be driven around while looking off the side.
However, while walking around all this awesome tailgating scene I couldn't help but think that for Cleveland, as well as for Buffalo and other (recently) bad franchises, the tailgating is so great because the game often stinks. We compensate for the woes of our teams by having so much fun with the other parts of football not associated with winning. I've heard that Patriots games are almost like business meetings; you show up, watch the expected win, and leave immediately afterwards. I have mixed feelings about this difference. I'd love for Bills fans to keep their 'swag', but I would rather celebrate the achievements of our franchise than reserve partying as the consolation prize for having a bad team.
Even though the majority in attendance were Browns fans, there was a good number of Bills fans, as well. Just seeing other Buffalo people was refreshing, and the camaraderie was a far cry from my last week's viewing of the game, which consisted of me sitting by myself in a largely empty bar in the basement of a bed-and-breakfast (it was fun, though, to see the only other fans in the bar, Patriots fans', dismay).
It's been said a lot lately, but both lines are awesome, and awesome to watch. I have never been as entertained to watch the Bills play defense as I have been this season. The D-Line is utterly dominant against the run, was good against the pass yesterday, and contains some of the best characters on the whole team. Mario Williams seems fairly reserved on the field, but Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, and Mark Anderson are really fun to watch. Even Chris Kelsay gets pretty pumped out there. The sack dances are great. Kyle's open invitation to the gun show is cool; however, Marcell's big-man strut is my personal favorite.
The O-Line appeared, to mine eye, to be the most cohesive unit on the team. It was awesome to see them sit down on the bench in the same formation as on the field: Glenn-Levitre-Wood-Urbik-Pears/Hairston. Hairston and Rinehart were frequently practicing on the sideline, with one of them acting as the OL and one of them as the DL. Also, Joe D'Alessandris was always talking to the line, especially Eric Wood, to whom he was showing what looked to be a play chart.
The coolest part of the game, for me, was after most of the Browns fans had left after Weeden's first interception late in the fourth quarter. The Bills fans all got raucous and started moving farther down in the stadium. Then, Mark Anderson started doing the pump-up arm wave thing and Bills fans went nuts. The next play Brian Scott intercepted Weeden and the stadium became ridiculously loud. After the Victory Formation ran out the clock and the teams shook hands etc., some of the players came up to the Bills fans down by the tunnel and were throwing gloves and pumping up the crowd.
George Wilson danced around in a Bills flag that someone handed down to him. Marcell Dareus had a look of pure joy as he shouted something I couldn't hear to fans. I personally got a high-five from Scott Chandler, who ran down along the bowl. Aaron Williams also threw his gloves into the stands, but my favorite was Tashard Choice. Choice looked ridiculously happy to have gotten his playing time and he spent a good time amongst the fans. I'm sure I'm forgetting/didn't see a few players, but I wanted to mention the ones that I remembered in a sort of thanks for being really cool people. They don't have to do that kind of stuff, and it made a great game even more special for me, as well as many others, I'm sure.
I could write much more, but I'll leave it at that out of respect for my time and yours.
Thanks for Reading!