For as long as I have written for this site, I have speculated about the never-ending battle taking place on opposite ends of Lake Erie as Buffalo and Cleveland duke it out for the distinction of being America’s Most Tortured Sports City. (I also commend Seattle’s strong push to become the bronze medalist in this race).
When LeBron James jilted Cleveland with his “Decision” this summer, I felt that city had clinched an indefinite stranglehold on the position.
Lo and behold, Buffalo has come charging back into the mix.
On Sunday, the Bills nearly sprang the NFL’s premier upset of the season over the Steelers… and then budding star wideout Stevie Johnson dropped the game-winning touchdown in the end zone despite being as wide-open as humanly possible. It was such a thoroughly Buffalo play that he was left with no option but to blame God afterwards. Only it wouldn’t have even happened had the Bills scored the game-winner on the kickoff to open overtime, which very nearly happened, or scored the game-winning points on a safety minutes later, which also somehow did not happen after a large pileup near the end zone.
When the Steelers finally did pull out the 16-13 19-16 win, it marked the third time Buffalo has lost a game in overtime this season, tying an uncool NFL record. The Bills also lost a game to the Bears by a field goal in regulation. In fact, four of Buffalo’s losses have come against first-place teams by three points — Chicago, Baltimore, Kansas City and now Pittsburgh. This team could as easily be 6-5 and in the thick of the playoff hunt as it is 2-9 and in the thick of the first draft-pick hunt.
And things aren’t nearly as bad in Cleveland as we would have predicted upon LeBron’s departure. The Cavs are only 2.5 games out of first in the Central Division. LeBron’s Heat? They’re 3.5 out in the Southeast. Plus the Cavs have a shot at exacting their revenge when Miami visits this week. Though if history is any indicator, more heartbreak is in the mix.
Photo courtesy Buffalo News