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Gailey keeps Bills moving in right direction

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Recent posts by Eli Kaberon

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Posted Nov. 22, 2010 @ 2:10 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

The Bills played the first 30 minutes of their Week 11 game against the Bengals like a team that had just one win on the season and was eagerly looking forward to the year being over. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed two second-quarter interceptions, one of which was brought back for a TD, and the Buffalo secondary got torched — both physically and verbally — by Cincinnati WRs Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco.

The game's final 30 minutes played out much differently. Instead of tossing touchdowns to the players in orange jerseys, Fitzpatrick connected with WR Stevie Johnson for three second-half scores. The defense, especially the secondary, stepped up as well, shutting out the potent Bengals attack and recording the first interception by a Bills defensive back this season. When the game ended, the poor first half was a distant memory, as the Bills won their second consecutive game with a resounding 49-31 road win.

The PFW Spin

Fitzpatrick, Johnson, RB Fred Jackson and a group of defenders deserve major credit for this victory, but no Bill contributed more to the victory than head coach Chan Gailey. The team's leader, as well as offensive play-caller, pushed all the right buttons down the stretch of this game, giving the team what nobody thought was possible a month ago — positive momentum.

While beating a Cincinnati team that is now on a seven-game losing streak, a week after beating a Lions squad that has now lost 25 in a row on the road, is nothing to brag about, the Bills' 2-8 campaign is a lot better than the record would indicate. Prior to the consecutive wins, the team had lost three consecutive games by three points each, all against winning teams away from Ralph Wilson Stadium. Before that was a bizarre home loss to the Jaguars where everything fell apart after jumping out to a 10-0 lead. Realistically, if a few bounces, passes and calls had gone their way, the Bills could have as many as six wins this season and Gailey would be taken seriously as a Coach of the Year candidate.

Of course, they didn't win those games, and there are plenty of reasons for that, Gailey coaching decisions included. Many teams would quit trying after that, seeing that their hard work isn't resulting in victories. But the head coach kept the team together and the Bills have rallied with consecutive victories.

"I was excited for our players. They kept fighting," Gailey said following the win over the Bengals. "We talked about, at halftime, not finding a way to win, but going and making a way to win. And they believed that they could do that, and they went out and did it. We don't have a lot of superstars or prima donnas, we've got a bunch of guys that have great character and fight every time they walk on the field."

The Bills are still a 2-8 team that has tough tests vs. the Steelers, Patriots and Jets remaining on the schedule. More than likely they will draft in the top five of the draft next April, and when fans think back on Gailey's first season as coach of the team, they'll likely remember the eight losses to start the year before the two wins in the middle pop up. But in a season where multiple teams appear to have quit on their coaches, Gailey deserves praise for the way in which he has kept his team fighting, and he has been rewarded with a pair of wins the past two weeks.

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