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Desperate Bills dare to emulate 2011 Giants


By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Buffalo Bills have one final trick to rationalize the legitimacy of their crippled playoff hopes.

Their last resort is comparing themselves to last year's New York Giants, who won the Super Bowl.

"I told our players our goal now is to get to 7-7. That's where the world champions were last year," Gailey said after Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Lucas Oil Stadium. "That's our goal. But we've got to get to 7-7 and see where everything sits because that's where they were, and they won it all. Let's see if we can get to that."

The Bills are 4-7. Sunday's defeat officially eliminated them from any mathematical chance of winning the AFC East. They're two games out of a wild-card sport.

With five games to play, the postseason still sounds doable. But with tiebreakers, five teams are between the Bills and the final wild card. That means the Bills would need to overtake at least six teams to qualify for the tournament.

As for the Giants comparison, it's ludicrous.

When the Giants were 7-7, they weren't even four calendar years removed from a world championship. A high percentage of their roster owned Super Bowl rings, having knocked off the undefeated New England Patriots.

The Bills have one Super Bowl ring on their entire roster: linebacker Nick Barnett with the Green Bay Packers. He played four games for them because of an injury, none in the postseason.

The Bills have only a handful of players who have won division titles. Unless, I've missed somebody, here's the list (with the team they were on):

  • * Defensive end Shawne Merriman (2006-09 Chargers)
  • * Barnett (2003-04, 2007 Packers)
  • * Defensive end Mark Anderson (2006 Chicago Bears, 2011 Patriots)
  • * Linebacker Bryan Scott (2004 Atlanta Falcons, nine games with 2006 New Orleans Saints)
  • * Running back Tashard Choice (2009 Dallas Cowboys)
  • * Receiver Ruvell Martin (2007 Packers, five games with 2010 Seattle Seahawks)
  • * Defensive end Mario Williams (five games with 2011 Houston Texans)
  • * Fullback Corey McIntyre (four games with 2006 Saints)
  • * Cornerback Crezdon Butler (four games with 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers)
  • * Offensive lineman Thomas Welch (three games with 2011 Patriots)
  • * Tight end Scott Chandler (one game with 2007 Chargers)
  • * Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (backup for 2009 Minnesota Vikings)

That's an uninspiring, patchwork collection of partial contributors either then or now. Just three -- Barnett, Merriman and Scott -- started for a full season on a division champion. Barnett is the only one of those who starts for the Bills now.

Barnett was asked if the Bills can replicate the Giants' success last year.

"I think so," Barnett said. "Hey, they've got Eli Manning. We've got [Ryan] Fitzpatrick. We've got players who are capable of making big-time plays and getting that momentum.

"Obviously, we don't have it right now. We've got to put this thing together as a full team."

The Giants last year got to 7-7 a much different way than the Bills would. The Giants won three of their first four games and had road victories over the Philadelphia Eagles, Patriots and Cowboys.

Each of the Bills four victories this year has been over an opponent with a losing record.

Last year's Giants also won their division at 9-7. The Bills can't do that.

The Giants not only had a Super Bowl MVP at quarterback, but they also had playmakers all over the field.

On offense, they had Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and a couple Pro Bowl offensive linemen. On defense, they had Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Antrell Rolle and reliable linebackers.

Their head coach was Tom Coughlin. They had a kicker who attempted field goals longer than 50 yards. They played all eight of their home games in a state-of-the-art stadium. All their games were sold out.

But I guess, other than all that, this year's Bills and last years Giants are exactly the same.

(Photos: Getty Images)

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |