A View from Calico Jack’s – 11/2/2008

Anyone see the movie Match Point? If not, but you plan to rent it one day, don’t read the next two paragraphs, which divulge a key plot point.

Hoping to literally get away with murder, the main character knows he needs to get rid of his victim’s ring – which he does by tossing it into a river. Only, as it turns out, his throw was inaccurate. Unbeknownst to the murderer, the ring bounces off a railing and falls to the ground, short of the river. As viewers, we “know” that the murderer’s mistake has screwed him.

But, in a remarkable twist of fate, his mistake didn’t screw him. In fact, his mistake actually saved him. How? Because the police ultimately became convinced of his guilt, but were forced to let him go when they found a vagrant in possession of the very ring he had meant to dispose, and charged the vagrant with murder instead. In other words, his mistake actually saved his hide.

Why do I raise the movie Match Point? Well, for one thing, I’d rather write about anything other than the Jets game (presidential politics, anyone? How about the new TV season?) But, the real reason I raise Match Point is because today’s game had a Match Point kind of moment — a real swerve that ultimately made all the difference.

The Jets accepted a five-yard penalty against the Bills near the end of the first quarter, when declining it would have given Buffalo fourth down. The Jets presumably wanted to force the Bills to kick a longer field goal. But, it backfired. The Bills completed a long pass, and soon enough were first and goal. The Jets were dopes.

Or were they? Next thing you know, Roscoe Parrish was falling down and a Trent Edwards pass was picked by the Jets, who ran it back 92 yards. A turnaround of either 10 or 14 points, depending. The Jets’ mistake worked to their advantage. Lots of other bad stuff happened, but that was a real killer, even though the Bills later returned the favor by returning a Brett Favre pass for a TD (right after I’d uttered the words, “The Jets shouldn’t throw the ball the rest of the game.”)

So, now what? I could say a lot of negative things about this game, this team and this season. I’m certainly thinking them. But, I’m not going to do that. I’m also not going to do the whole rah-rah, “We’re still 5-3” shtick, because that’s bull; two divisional losses in a row against inferior teams doesn’t deserve rah-rah.

I will say this: the team has exhausted its room for error; it has largely squandered the gift of a 4-0/5-1 start. The mental errors and even the coaching errors need to be corrected starting now. Above all, they’ve got to find a way to run the ball. In spite of everything else that went bad, a solid run attack probably would have let them win this game.

They’ve got the biggest line in football, yet can’t pound out a drive-sustaining yard when they need it, or otherwise take the pressure off the passing game. The Bills have all the ingredients for an outstanding ball-control offense, punctuated by the occasional fling to Evans or Parrish. They’d better work it out, or soon enough it’ll be “Match Point” for the Bills, and they won’t be the ones jumping over the net when the game is over.

Let me end this on a high note: I watched the game at home, and listened to the Bills’ local announcers via Sirius satellite radio. Suddenly, I heard announcer John Murphy say, “Here’s a big hello to the New York City Buffalo Bills Backers, who are watching the game at McFadden’s, in the heart of enemy territory. You ever see that You Tube video (referencing the Raiders game)?”

Cool stuff, right? We’re famous.

E-mail feedback and comments to Phil Mann at
pjmann at nyc.rr.com