COMMENTARY | Let's set the record straight: I don't like waiting in traffic and I was looking forward to "Breaking Bad."
However, no combination of the aforementioned would have been enough incentive for me to leave my seat in the press box at Sunday's matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers. But that's exactly what thousands of Bills fans did, moments after the Panthers took a six-point lead with less than two minutes remaining.
As Bills rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel loosened up his arm on the sideline, fans -- many donning Manuel jerseys -- were heading for the gates.
I couldn't believe my eyes.
Why on earth would you leave now? You sat through 58 minutes of back-and-forth football, only to leave with the game on the line? You didn't want to see if today was the day that your rookie quarterback picked up his first signature win? Color me confused.
"I can't even tell you how I felt," said an ear-to-ear smiling Manuel. "Honestly, I just don't know. I started crying there. I'm not usually an emotional guy. I want to enjoy those types of things."
Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith could barely stomach the loss afterward.
"This is like going to the dentist and getting several teeth pulled without any anesthesia, laughing gas -- nothing," Smith said. "It's tough and it's sickening."
Don't get me wrong. I understand that Bills fans have endured pain -- as recent as last week, in fact.
But if you expected the worst case scenario, why did you even make the trek to Ralph Wilson Stadium in the first place? Why pay for tickets, just to miss the best part of the game?
Sure, you saw Mario Williams set a team record with 4 ½ sacks in a game. But what you missed was more than a game-winning drive; Manuel became just the fifth NFL rookie since 1960 to engineer a fourth-quarter comeback in his first or second game.
"Roller coaster," said Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. "That's about as bad as it gets; you had an opportunity to win the game, an opportunity to close it out, and you didn't."
I don't know, Ron. I think if I paid for a ticket and missed what transpired -- assuming I was there as a Bills fan -- that would be as bad as it gets.
Manuel turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter. Maybe some fans couldn't handle the possibility of a third. Wide receiver Stevie Johnson, who caught the game-winner with two seconds remaining, certainly didn't see it that way.
"I'm not surprised because he doesn't seem like a rookie," Johnson said of Manuel's ability to bounce back from the late turnovers. "Those plays happen, turnovers. The Panthers are out there fighting also. I think we just showed that we have what it took to win this Sunday because the Panthers came out, we got a turnover on them and usually, the opposing team wins the game when the Panthers turned the ball over. They came back and fought hard and we fought harder."
And fight hard, the Bills certainly did. Maybe next time it will be in front of a full house.
All quotes in this story were obtained first-hand.
Charles Roberts covers the NFL's Buffalo Bills and the University at Buffalo football program. His work has appeared in several local and national print and online publications. Follow him on Twitter: @cHartleyRoberts.
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