It happens this way sometimes.
You’ll hear a lot of “it never should have come down to that one play” from the participants. Many fans will choose to take that and run with it. Maybe they’ll use it to ease the frustration of getting beat on a miraculous, off the charts, all-time highlight of a play. Maybe it’s because it just feels good to find things to criticize and that’s fine.
It’s what we do as fans, and anyone pointing out the handful of things that should have, or could have been handled differently throughout the Buffalo Bills' 32-30 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday isn’t necessarily wrong.
Of course the Bills aren’t perfect. Mistakes were made.
After pushing their lead to 23-9 by capitalizing on a short field following an Arizona fumble, the Bills offense disappeared. Punt, interception, punt, punt, interception are the results of the five drives the Bills produced after taking a 14-point lead. That second half slumber helped the Cardinals take a 26-23 lead and, of course, played a part in this loss.
It looked like the bolts were coming loose for Josh Allen and the offense. There were the pair of interceptions. There was a wild, being sacked, desperation throw to running back Devin Singletary that easily could have been another turnover.
So yeah, there’s stuff that didn’t go well.
Then a funny thing happened.
After all of that, the Bills defense stiffened and got the ball back for a shot at a potential game-winning drive. The offense, having badly slumped for basically the entire half, put together a fantastic drive, and an amazing throw by Allen and catch by Stefon Diggs gave the Bills the 30-26 lead with 34 seconds to go.
We all know what happened after that, and there’s plenty to digest there. Should the Bills have called a timeout before the Hail Mary play? Did they make it too easy for the Cardinals receivers to run freely off the line of scrimmage? Should they have sent one more pass rusher to try and take away Kyler Murray’s time and space?
How about a tall man defending the goal line?
I’m open to pondering answers to all of those questions. Really, I am.
Just know that in the end, the Bills had three guys around DeAndre Hopkins when he plucked that prayer out of the sky, and not just any three guys.
Tre’Davious White was in front of Hopkins, Micah Hyde was behind Hopkins, and Jordan Poyer drifted over and was on the scene as well. We could waste a lot of time debating who makes up the core of this Bills team, but those three guys are almost definitely a part of it.
White has the best chance to defend the play. He gets at least one hand on the ball. There’s a still photo where you can see Hopkins with hands on either side of the ball and one of White’s hands in between. At that same instant, Poyer arrives, also trying to make a play on the ball. Poyer never gets to the ball, and instead crashes into White, knocking him out of the play.
Maybe Hopkins makes the catch anyways. Maybe White knocks it out of there if he isn’t hit by Poyer. None of this is really meant to criticize Poyer. He’s just trying to make the play and it goes wrong.
I’ve looked at every angle I can find. Video, still shots, and they all point me to the same conclusion.
Sometimes you just get beat.
If this play happens during the drought years, it would go right to the top of the bad beat list and I’d be losing my mind.
But the drought is over. The 2020 Bills are good.
Are they some sort of perfect super team? No, of course not. But they’re good enough to have put together a great drive and a superb pass and catch by Allen and Diggs that almost delivered a great win.
It ended up taking a miracle of a play to beat them.