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Bills' victory in Motown is feel-good gift for fans in snow-covered Buffalo

11/25/2014

DETROIT -- Days after their region was paralyzed by a three-day storm that dropped 6 feet of snow, the people of Buffalo needed a reason to smile.

Enter the Buffalo Bills, who delivered a laugher of a win over the New York Jets, 38-3 in Detroit on Monday night.

From Robert Woods' acrobatic catches to the Jets imploding yet again in the face of their AFC East rivals, there was plenty for the decidedly pro-Bills crowd of 56,004 to cheer -- and, yes, even laugh -- about at the Bills' makeshift home of Ford Field.

"We wanted to give the people back in our region a chance to smile a little bit by the way we play," coach Doug Marrone said after the game.

That's exactly what the Bills did, silencing questions about how they'd respond to an abnormal practice week by delivering a start-to-finish thumping of the Jets. There was no rust to knock off and nothing sluggish about the Bills; they just went out there and got the job done.

"The players did a heck of a job coming out tonight and really playing well," Marrone said. "I thought pretty much our guys were ready to go."

Players and coaches wouldn't lie -- they weren't sure how many fans would show for essentially a neutral-site game in a city more than 200 miles from their home turf.

"You don't know what to expect. I know there was a radio station trying to garner up a bunch of [Jets] green-out or something like that," Marrone said. "Obviously, you get concerned about, 'Is there going to be a home-field [advantage]?' and things like that. 'Do you get ready for a silent count?'"

"When I first came out, I was like, 'Aw, man. We'll have to find a way to crank ourselves up,'" receiver Sammy Watkins said.

Yes, the crowd -- filled with jerseys from just about every NFL team -- was sparse during warm-ups. But by kickoff, the entire lower bowl of Ford Field was full. By halftime nearly the entire stadium was packed -- and there was no mistaking which team had the fans' support.

"As soon as I came out and looked to the right and saw all the blue jerseys, I was like, 'Holy cow, baby. Here we go. We got the crowd,'" Marrone said. "That was a little bit of a relief for me in the beginning of the game."

The Detroit Lions went out of their way to make their place feel like home for the Bills, painting Buffalo's logos on the field, playing the Bills' signature "Shout" song after touchdowns and even serving Buffalo wings in the press box.

Bills fans -- sorely in need of a rallying point after a week in which families in the Buffalo area were low on food and, in some cases, without heat -- soaked in every minute of it.

That wasn't lost on tight end Scott Chandler, who celebrated his 19-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter by pretending to shovel snow.

"I broke two shovels this week, so that's the only shovel I got right now," he said. "It was a little bit of a tribute to the people of Buffalo. Just kind of one of those things where you want to do something special for our fans. They did a great job of showing up for us tonight, and for the people back there, they're behind us as well."

As the game progressed and the Bills kept racking up points, the night got even better for Bills fans. They witnessed the Jets continue to stumble through their season, the latest chapter marked by a blocked punt recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, as well as quarterback Michael Vick benched in the second half in favor of Geno Smith.

Bills fans -- who had plenty of reason to jeer Smith after he threw three interceptions and was benched in his last outing against Buffalo -- quickly serenaded him with chants of "Ge-no! Ge-no!" during his first few plays on the field.

The lopsided win over the Jets might not have been on national television, but with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the house, it had all the buzz of a prime-time game.

For the beleaguered Bills and their fans, it was the perfect medicine.