National reporters on Bills good fortune and Jags matchup

Posted Jan 2, 2018

National reporters largely praised a Bills team that persevered and finally reached the postseason after a long absence. They also warned of a challenging matchup with Jacksonville.

Yes, the Bills needed help to reach the playoffs and they got it in dramatic fashion early Sunday evening. In the assessment of what Buffalo has done in year one under head coach Sean McDermott, national reporters were both congratulatory and cautiously optimistic about their Wild Card playoff game in Jacksonville on Sunday.

NFL Network reporters Judy Battista and Steve Wyche marveled as what the Bills overcame to reach their first postseason in 17 seasons.

“The remarkable thing about the Bills is remember when we thought they were tanking,” said Battista. “That wasn’t long ago. They were getting rid of their best players. They were angry and annoyed at that suggestion that they would just toss the season away. They got rid of good players, but here they are.”

“They traded away good players, who are playing well for the teams they’re on now,” said Wyche. “To me that shows you how good of a coach Sean McDermott is, and how the guys bought in especially after the quarterback switch with Tyrod Taylor and (Nate) Peterman. Things could have gone so sideways after that. For him to get those guys to regroup and play and finish the way they have says a lot. That’s why I think they could knock off Jacksonville.”

Meanwhile Kay Adams from ‘Good Morning Football’ on NFL Network, felt the forgotten man in Buffalo’s vanquishing of the playoff demons was QB Tyrod Taylor.

“Tyrod Taylor facing all the adversity for his entire career in Buffalo, I believe with the moves that they’ve made has been disrespected, and he gets to be the one that gets to say, ‘I broke the streak,’ Adams said. “I don’t even care what happens after this. He can say, ‘I took this team to the playoffs. I did that. My name is Tyrod Taylor.’”

CBS Sports Radio’s John Feinstein painted the picture of what both Ravens and Bills fans were feeling after Cincinnati’s heroic comeback.

“While the Cincinnati Bengals last minute touchdown in Baltimore Sunday sent the hearty fans still shivering inside M&T Bank Stadium into shock as they watched the Ravens playoff hopes explode, the loss set off wild celebrating in Buffalo. That’s because the Ravens loss put Buffalo’s beloved and beleaguered Bills into the playoffs for the first time this century.

"No city has deserved a better fate or better luck more than Buffalo. Which is why it’s hardly fair that RB LeSean McCoy was carted off the field with an ankle injury Sunday in Buffalo’s win in Miami. If McCoy is hobbled Sunday in Jacksonville, an uphill battle becomes an almost Everest-like climb.”

And though some pundits are claiming the Bills were lucky to advance to the postseason, ESPN’s Trey Wingo, in an appearance on the John Murphy Show, stuck up for what Sean McDermott’s team did this past Sunday.

“They took care of their business and the other teams didn’t, Wingo said. “It’s not the Bills fault that the Ravens couldn’t win a home game. The Ravens entered Sunday’s game with a 97 percent chance of advancing to the playoffs. The Bills had a three percent chance. The Bills did what they had to do and Baltimore did not. They didn’t back in. They did what they had to do.

"The best part for Bills fans is it’s the Doug Marrone bowl. A chance to whip up on the coach that left you.”

However, Wingo cautions that with Jacksonville’s defense and run game, which both rank in the top five, the game could largely hinge on the play of Jaguars QB Blake Bortles.

“Their defense is so legitimate. It’s really good,” said Wingo of the Jaguars. “The interesting thing is there was a three-game stretch where Blake Bortles did not play like Blake Bortles. It was the first time in his career, Weeks 13, 14 and 15, he had three straight games with multiple touchdowns and no interceptions. When he’s playing like that, that team with that running game and defense is going to be really good.

“But the last two weeks he threw for 300 yards, but had three interceptions in the loss to San Francisco and two interceptions last week against Tennessee. If Blake Bortles can be turnover free they’re a very difficult team to beat, but if he’s going to be what he’s been for most of his career, and that’s giving teams some freebies, then they’re a very beatable team.”