What's left to play for? Bills have three reasons, plus 53
The Buffalo Bills have another losing record and missed the playoffs a 14th straight season.
We've known that for a couple weeks.
Yet they still have much to play for -- some of it symbolic, some of it tangible.
A victory Sunday over the New England Patriots would:
- Give the Bills their first triumph in that stadium since it was built 12 years ago.
- Give the Bills the only winning record in the AFC East at 4-2. The Patriots would be 3-3.
- Give the Bills a three-game winning streak for the first time since September 2011.
Bills coach Doug Marrone also explained the final game of any season is more important than the others because it's the last chance for that team to play together.
Rosters go through changes each year, especially when the team doesn't win more games than it loses. Cuts, retirements, free agents and draft picks ensure turnover.
Marrone recalled the moment that sentiment was driven home for him. He was a freshman at Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx. The Mount had lost a championship game the week before, but had one more to play against Cardinal Hayes.
Mount assistant coach Frank Burke, a Notre Dame halfback in 1940s, delivered a fire-and-brimstone pregame speech about what it meant to take the field for the final time with your football brothers.
"I always think that you go through an offseason, you go through so many things together as a team," Marrone said, "and because of change in our profession and change at the high-school level or wherever you want to play, it's your last chance to go out there for each other.
"I think it's a special bond, and that's the way I look at the last game. Again, I may be different than most people, but that's how it was instilled in me at a young age and that’s how I look at it. I look at it as being extremely important."