Niagara Gazette


December 7, 2008

SCHMITT: Toronto sure felt far away


TORONTO — I’ve tried to stay open-minded about this whole thing. Really I have.

When others cried doom and gloom about the Bills’ newfound connection with Toronto, I stomached the company line about this being a strategic move to fortify the brand. I even swallowed the theory that regionalization was the only way the Bills could stay in Buffalo when I saw Ted Rogers’ zeroes pile up.

On Sunday, I spit back anything I’d ingested.

The first-ever regular season NFL game in Canada was an unmitigated disaster if you’re a Bills fan. A worst-case scenario.

Nearly every section had pockets of empty seats. Half of the crowd that did fork over big bucks wore orange. And when Anthony Fasano hauled in a touchdown pass midway through the first quarter, nearly everybody in the end zone seats jumped and cheered wildly.

Forget home-field advantage. This was more like a road game.

So while I could repeat the same set of gripes about the on-field product — it’s frustrating that J.P. Losman still can’t sense backside pressure, this team’s use of challenges has been downright comical, and the defense needs to gamble on third down and bring more bodies — I’ll refrain.

Instead, I’ve put together a list of discrepancies between a snowy afternoon in Orchard Park and a Sunday spent under the Rogers Centre dome.

n Chad Pennington said after the game he was “excited to play here.” When was the last time a Miami quarterback said he was excited to play an away game against the Bills?

Pennington added this, though: “I was excited to play inside the dome, and not outside.”

n A large sign hanging under the scoreboard had a cutout of the Bills starting quarterback, a pair of Canadian flags and the phrase “In Losman we trust.”

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