118-mccoy_sports_billsstandaloneprod_affiliate502Let me begin our discussion by reminding you that the Buffalo Bills have not made the playoffs in the new millennium and are going on 10 straight years without a post season appearance. This horrible statistic is second only to the Detroit Lions.

Bills fans, please keep these facts in the front of your mind as you proceed to read further.

Terrell Owens is now a Buffalo Bill.

The five time All-Pro wide receiver has signed a one year deal worth $6.5 million to don the red, white, and blue in Western New York. As a Bills fan, I couldn’t be happier. The signing of Owens, even for only one season, is a positive on so many levels that his main criticism of being a locker room cancer is almost irrelevant.

Here are some immediate reactions to negative opinions on the acquisition of Owens:

“Terrel Owens is a locker room cancer. He is going to tear the team apart!” To the people who think this way, let me remind you that the same thing was said about Randy Moss when he signed with the New England Patriots, and look how that turned out. Also realize that the Bills are no strangers to controversy in the locker room. Maybe controversy on a high school level when compared to T.O., but controversy nonetheless. Between the Willis McGahee drama, the Edwards/Losman conflict, and the outrage geared toward head coaches Dick Jauron, (and former coaches) Mike Mularkey, and Gregg Williams, the Bills have spent some time experiencing their own off field issues. Oops! I forgot to mention Marshawn Lynch’s hit and run and misdemeanor weapons possession charge over the last two years… If you’re among the fans who think T.O. is only going to ruin the Bills chances of success due to his personality issues, I ask you this: How have the Bills fared on the field all these years without T.O.? After nearly a decade of watching the Bills be monumental losers (especially after this season) Owens can open his notorious big mouth all he wants as along as he’s making plays and helping the Bills win games. Besides, if he does turn out to be the dreaded ‘cancer’ the majority of the world perceives him to be, he’s gone at the end of the season, no strings attached. I want a Championship in Buffalo, and T.O. helps the Bills get one step closer to that ultimate goal.

“This is an outrage! I refuse to buy a Bills ticket if Owens is on the team!” While you may not be the only fan who thinks this way, you’re probably in the minority. With the addition of Owens, the Bills have become a far more marketable team, and to be frank, won’t really need your ticket money. The Bills now have a serious (instead of hopeful) shot at getting multiple prime time games, and if that happens, ticket sales won’t be an issue. With the dying economy and the way last season ended, Bills owner Ralph Wilson had to do something to keep interest in the club in both Western New York and Toronto, Canada. The Bills first game in Toronto, was an unmitigated disaster. People had shelled out thousands of dollars to go to the game, and they weren’t even rewarded with a touchdown from the ‘home’ team. The Bills still have four more game dates with Toronto, and after last seasons embarrassing performance against the Dolphins, why would Canadians want to pay even $5 to see a crappy team try and play football? Terrell Owens now gives them a reason to come back. Besides, when was the last time a Bills jersey topped the sales charts? … anyone?

“Owens is only using the Bills as a springboard for opportunities to go elsewhere in 2010.” Assuming this becomes fact, who cares. Buffalo picked up QB Trent Edwards, RB Marshawn Lynch, LB Paul Posluszny, and WR James Hardy to be better later. T.O. makes the Bills better now. “I think Buffalo gave themselves a buzz [last season]. They were hot at the beginning of the season. They didn’t finish well. But with someone like myself, I can come in and add that extra piece and we can get over the hump,” said Owens, and I agree with him. If he wants to come to Buffalo and bring success to the team only to say next February, “See everyone! I can play for a bad club and make it elite. I’m available. Who wants to pay for me?”, so be it. If he left in 2010 after a successful 2009, Owens still has done a service to the Bills as other free agents will look on Buffalo as a team that can actually win. So even if he splits after a successful 2009-2010 campaign, he has still bolstered Buffalo’s reputation in the NFL. 

“We don’t need Owens. We’ve got Evans!” Since the departure of veteran WR Eric Moulds, Lee Evans hasn’t developed into the #1 WR Bills fans hoped he’d be. His average play can be faulted on both himself and the Buffalo coaching staff for not giving him enough looks to be effective. He’s also had trouble when being double covered, but with Owens on the opposite sideline, Lee can hopefully up his game. Last season Evans had 63 receptions for 1,017 yards and 3 TD’s, the fewest of his career. Owens caught 69 passes for 1,052 yards and 10 TD’s. With these two guys catching passes for the Bills, the club now has two of the top 15 players in yards per catch during the 2008 season. Evans was 10th and Owens was 15th. One could argue that Owens drops too many passes, as he’s led the league in that stat for the last two years. The counter point to this is that logically, the more balls you have thrown to you, the more you’re going to drop. The other league leaders in dropped passes are WR’s Braylon Edwards, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Bowe, all of whom have had solid performances in the last few seasons. With Evans and Owens as QB Trent Edwards’ top two targets, the Bills WR depth chart went from less than average to a threatening unit that deserves respect. Go-to man Josh Reed and the shifty speed demon Roscoe Parrish are ideal #3 and #4 wide receivers, and if things go well, Owens could serve as a valuable mentor to sophomore WR’s, Steve Johnson and (more importantly) James Hardy. Hardy failed to deliver on the high expectations that were placed on him after being drafted by Buffalo in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft. He had a mere 87 yards and 2 TDs in the 14 games he played last season. If he’s up to it, Owens can help the sophomore get those stats up. With Hardy’s development taking longer than expected, the Bills needed another WR and Owens was easily the best one available on the market (he was on a list that featured Jabar Gaffney, Laveranues Coles, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Michael Clayton, and Hank Baskett). To put your mind at ease, Evans was both excited and surprised about the move, saying “It’s definitely a good feeling that they (the Bills) went out and got him.” 

“Terrel Owens isn’t a team player. His personality doesn’t fit with the system.” I agree with these statements. However, Dick Jauron’s ‘system’ has been less than mediocre as the Bills have gone 7-9 for three straight seasons. Owens’ personality may not fit the system, but lets face it, Buffalo’s system sucks. Owens is the spark the Bills need to be competitive and as mentioned above, he can help develop this young team into a squad of solid players. In addition to helping the Buffalo WR core, he’ll hopefully help the development of Trent Edwards as the young QB now has a handful of dependable targets with which to take shots down field. Edwards has proven that he has what it takes to be an elite quarterback in the NFL, provided he has a team around him and stays healthy. Said Edwards of Owens: “I am really excited about the addition of Terrell Owens to our team. We spoke earlier and both look forward to working hard this off season. We share the common goal of winning football games. His ability and experience will add to our offense and the weapons we already have.”Don’t forget that T.O. is second only to Jerry Rice with 951 career receptions and 139 TD’s. 

“What does the rest of the nation think?” Here are some poll results I found on espn.com and wgr550.com: 

What impact will Terrell Owens have on the Bills: 43% mostly positive, 36% mostly negative, 21% no significant impact (302,960 votes).

Do you think signing Owens was the right move for the Bills: 76% yes, 24% no.

Where will Terrell Owens be at the start of the 2010 season: 46% with the Bills, 46% with another NFL team, 8% out of the NFL (25, 354 votes).

How will the Bills fare in 2009: 49% borderline playoff team, 25% around .500, 22% legitimate AFC contender, 4% double-digit losses (17, 454 votes).

“The Bills won’t make the playoffs with T.O.” I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement. Sure, T.O. never won a playoff game with Dallas, but he helped bring them to two, one of which was a home game (please recall the very first points I made in this article). One of those losses lies solely on the shoulders of Cowboy QB Tony Romo, as he flubbed the hold of a Dallas 19 yard field goal attempt down 1 point with just over a minute to play. Like all Bills fans, I want a post season appearance in this decade, and Terrell Owens can help the Bills get there. The last time Buffalo was in the playoffs, I was 15. I am now 24. Deservedly, the Bills are categorized as one of the leagues worst, alongside teams like the Lions, the Browns, the Raiders, and formerly the Arizona Cardinals. Owens gives the Bills the star power they need in today’s NFL: the Patriots have Tom Brady, the Colts have Peyton Manning, the Chargers have LaDainian Tomlinson, and now the Bills have Terrell Owens. Like T.O. said in his first press conference with the Buffalo media:

“I’m leaving America’s Team to come to North America’s Team. Get ready.”

Terrell, Bills fans have never been more ready for success, so get your popcorn out; welcome to Buffalo T.O.

Go Bills!

09000d5d80d1e103_gallery_6001Instead of boring my readers with a game analysis of the Buffalo Bills 16-3 loss against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, I’ve decided to take a different approach to this week’s article. Below is a list of quotes from players, fans, and sports writers about the events that took place at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. If you’re a Bills fan you don’t want to reminisce about the game anyway, and if you’re a Dolphins fan I hate you and don’t want you reading my blog.

So sit back, relax, and prepare to get pissed:

Reactions from the Miami Dolphins

“Obviously we came up here and Toronto was new scenery for us. But we went out and saw the people in aqua and orange and it made a pretty big difference. You don’t feel like you’re playing an away game and you’re excited for the support.” – Ronnie Brown, RB

“I got kind of emotional during the national anthem (when fans began singing). It (O Canada) is a beautiful song and I hadn’t heard it in a while. It wasn’t clear who the home team was and that’s nice for us.” – Ricky Williams, RB

“Hey, people here are tough. They’re hockey fans and they get into it. It was just good to see that kind of support for us.” – Ronnie Brown, RB

“It was crazy because we heard cheering for Buffalo and then we heard a lot of cheering for us. I didn’t really know what the fans were doing. I would definitely play here over Buffalo any day.” – Will Allen, CB

Reactions from the Buffalo Bills

“It was cool, it was fun but Buffalo fans are a lot more rowdy. We could have used that rowdiness today.” – Marcus Stroud, DT

“It’s frustrating even more because we know we have the talent and we have the want to and drive and work ethic. We do everything we’re asked. But for some reason we still have to find a way to win whatever it takes. Guys are at a loss of words because of the outcome” – J.P. Losman, QB

“Obviously, the NFL is about making money. If that is what they are doing, that’s what they are doing.” – Kawika Mitchell, LB

“It felt like we were on the road.” – Jason Peters, OL

“It didn’t feel like home field advantage, it was pretty quiet, it was not a typical Bills game. It wasn’t near the loud-factor that you would like to have, but with that said we didn’t give them much to cheer about anyway. We just didn’t play well enough to get things sparked.  As you can tell we were looking for rhythm and just didn’t have it.” – J.P. Losman, QB

“Embarrassed, disappointed — they’re a couple of words you could use.”  – Marcus Stroud, DT

“Offensively we have no rhythm. We move the ball, but when it comes down to scoring, we don’t have a clue.” – Lee Evans, WR09000d5d80d1da95_gallery_600

“I don’t even know if it was a neutral site. The defense was out there on third down and it was pretty quiet, and we’re out there and it was tough to hear sometimes. I don’t know if it was that they just wanted to see some football and didn’t have an allegiance, but it definitely didn’t feel like a home game.” – Duke Preston, C

“The game was a big letdown. We knew how important it was for us, and we just didn’t perform, and that reflects on me. That’s on my shoulders. It was a very disappointing day for us. Is it unacceptable? Well, how do you not accept it if you’ve done it? We’ve got to live with it. That’s our record, and we’ve got to take it and go on and try to get better and improve.” – Dick Jauron, Head Coach

“I felt different. I felt more comfortable. It was the first time I had gotten a start in awhile, you know so. I was hoping I wouldn’t be rusty and I don’t think I was that rusty.” – J.P. Losman, QB (… was he referring to the three fumbles, the pick, or the zero TD passes?)

“Three points? Listen, the way we’ve been playing, it’s tough to get three points.”- Ralph Wilson, Owner

Reactions from fans and the media

“It’s quite embarrassing that they’re this close to the game and still have these many seats to get rid of. I think their hopes were that it would be a sellout and a very quick sellout but, the problem was they really mismanaged the public’s willingness to spend the kind of money for tickets and it’s really backfired and blown up in their face a little.” – Rob Longley, Toronto Sun

“When they played the Penguins on Monday, the Sabres outscored the Bills on Sunday [4 goals to a field goal].” – caller to WGR550, Buffalo Sports Radio

“Attention, Buffalo. You can have your beloved Bills back. At least your loyal fans would have completely filled your stadium, The Ralph, for a December showdown with the hated Miami Dolphins. Toronto couldn’t. At least you would have cheered enough to make your team think it actually was playing a home game. Toronto couldn’t. And at least you would have booed the (bleep) out of them after the final gun for another pathetic offensive performance, one that netted just three points and 163 net yards. Toronto didn’t. – Mike Zeisberger, Toronto Sun

“[To] Ralph Wilson: I think it’s time you give this team up. You obviously don’t care about winning football games. That’s apparent from you reaction to Buffalo New’s columnist Jerry Sullivan’s question of, ‘Are you embarrassed [about the way the Bills played against Miami?]’ Ralph looked at Jerry, laughed and said, ‘I’m used to it.'”- WGR550.com, Buffalo Sports Radio

“Based on the crowd reaction, the game could’ve been played in Timbuktu rather than Toronto, because this was as foreign a “home” crowd as the Bills have ever played in front of. The setting was decidedly not blue-collar Buffalo, with Blue Jays and CFL Argonauts banners hanging from the rafters and nearly as many orange and aqua Dan Marino, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams jerseys among the 52,000 fans.” – news-press.com

31-4707879embeddedprod_affiliate56“If the Bills do bring in a new coach, they’re going to have to warn him that unlike other NFL teams, the Bills play just seven home games because of the Canadian cash grab. Calling the Bills the ‘home’ team at the Rogers Centre was a stretch that Yao Ming couldn’t make. If anything, there were more Dolphins fans than Bills fans in that place.” – Sal Maiorana, Democrat & Chronicle

“Would the Bills have won had the game been played in the icy elements of Ralph Wilson Stadium? Probably not. But this much is certain: The soft-armed Pennington would not have been throwing such pretty spirals in the howling winds of Orchard Park.” – Mike Zeisberger, Toronto Sun

“It reminded me of the old Harry Neale line, edited for football: The Bills can’t score at home. The Bills can’t score on the road. The Bills can’t score outside. The Bills can’t score inside. Their failure as a team is they have to find another place and another way to play. People paid mortgage payments for a pair of tickets to watch J.P. Losman play quarterback. That doesn’t seem fair to anybody. He is Buffalo’s Michael Bishop — and before Saskatchewan let him go, you could watch him for about 25 bucks.” – Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun

“The first-ever regular season NFL game in Canada was an unmitigated disaster if you’re a Bills fan. A worst-case scenario.” – Tim Schmitt, Niagara Gazette

“The Bills were booed when they emerged from the tunnel and were booed again when they returned to their locker room.” – Tim Graham, ESPN

“Undoubtedly, some customers were delighted to witness this kind of over-hyped NFL greatness. Why, these two teams yesterday once went six or seven plays in a row without a false-start penalty.” – Dave Perkins, Toronto Star

09000d5d80d1dc64_gallery_6001“Was there anything at all reminiscent of a game in Orchard Park? Only a single, extremely vigorous fistfight in the end-zone stands, though it’s hard to imagine what there was for anyone to get worked up about.” – Steven Brunt, Toronto Globe and Mail

“The Dolphins were 2-7 in games in Orchard Park after Dec. 1 so it was appalling to hear guys like Marcus Stroud say nobody in the Bills locker was complaining about playing indoors. That should disgust every player that’s ever worn a Buffalo uniform.” – Leo Roth, Democrat & Chronicle

“Interestingly, the announced attendance was 52,134, a generous estimate that was about 2,000 shy of football capacity for the Rogers Centre. Just 72 hours earlier, organizers said the game was sold out. We’re confused. How does that math work? Gouging the public for an average ticket price of $183 didn’t help.” – Mike Zeisberger, Toronto Sun

“For all that money, Toronto got to witness the big-league sight of Buffalo centre Duke Preston snapping a ball to his own buttocks, which would have been fine had quarterback J. P. Losman not been in the shotgun, five yards behind him, rather than under centre. For all that cash, Toronto got to see a second-quarter play in which Losman had the ball knocked out of his hand, recovered it, rolled out and threw a ball to Marshawn Lynch that Lynch bobbled, dropped and kicked out of bounds. You just don’t forget sporting moments like that.” – Bruce Arthur, National Post

The Buffalo logo has vanished from the field now. There’s nothing but a smudge at the 50-yard line. There one minute and gone the next, just like the once lofty hopes in this sad, exasperating Bills season.” – Jerry Sullivan, The Buffalo News

“The so-called sellout featured broad expanses of unoccupied blue seating, many dark private boxes and a conspicuous absence of lucrative signage. Even with a year to promote and sell space, and much of that before the economy went south, the official sponsors of the Bills Toronto Series were shown only on a rolling electronic sign.” – John Kernaghan, Hamilton Spectator

“No matter how the NFL chooses to spin it, this was not a Bills home date. Yes, the organization received $78-million US from Rogers to bring five regular-season and three pre-season games to Toronto over the next five years, but, in the end, the fine people of Buffalo and, to some extent, the players, were screwed.” – Mike Zeisberger, Toronto Sun

“Myself? I was thinking, “Yes! This performance ought to guarantee the Bills remain in Buffalo. Because what Canadian football fan would want to subject himself to such uninspiring efforts eight times a year at $350 a pop? The CFL offers so much more action, so many more thrills, not to mention the rouge, which if utilized by the NFL would have changed Sunday’s final to 17-4 and created the illusion of a tantalizing offensive show.” – Bob DiCesare, The Buffalo News

“Thank God we don’t have Detroit on our schedule.” – caller to WGR550, Buffalo Sports Radio

There you have it! 

Keep in mind that the thought behind the Bills Toronto series is to increase interest in the Buffalo Bills and in the NFL in Canada. After this pathetic output by the Bills and the boring pace of the game, I’d say anyone who was behind this project and stepped onto the field on Sunday has failed in that goal.

Miserably.

Dolphins Bills Football

Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. 

On Sunday, the undefeated Bills rallied from a 14-6 deficit at the end of the first half to beat the St. Louis Rams at their home dome, 31-14. It was a great day to be a Bills fan.

The report card:

-Best Performance in a Losing Effort: Steven Jackson. The Rams star running back has been pretty quiet most of the season, but he made plenty of noise this past week. It all started when Jackson made his disgust known to the media of the Rams’ decision to bench QB Marc Bulger in favor of concussion man, Trent Green. Jackson made plenty of noise on the field yesterday as well, rushing for 110 yards and a TD in his best game of the season. He broke plenty of Bills tackles and was the first running back this year to reach the centennial mark against a tough Bills D. Thanks Steven for losing and still helping out my fantasy team!

-That’s A Shame Award: The Bills gave the Rams their first lead of the season with the score 7-3… It lasted less than 30 minutes.

-Pat On The Back Award: Bills head coach, Dick Jauron. With yesterday’s win, Jauron reaches the .500 mark with Buffalo. I like that. he deserves it. “If you’re asking me how I feel, I feel great. You know I’d take 4-0 over any other possibility we could be right now, absolutely. But we gotta keep going.” Bills nation agrees with you coach. 

-Biggest Disappointment: I wanted to see more hits on Trent Green. With only two sacks against him on the day, it wasn’t enough for sense memory to kick in on the QB who went down last season with a painful looking concussion. The Bills pass rush has been average at best this year, and needs to improve if the goose egg is to remain in the losses column.

-Most Drunk Award: Scott Linehan, the (former) Rams coach who as of this morning has found himself to be unemployed. Enjoy that whiskey on the rocks Scott. Enjoy it.

-Cool, But No Cigar Award: I commend Buffalo offensive coordinator, Turk Schonert, for calling numerous plays in which QB Trent Edwards passed the ball deep down field. This is something Bills fans have been wanting to see for years now, as former offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild rarely called deep passing plays. That wasn’t the case yesterday, but unfortunately, the Bills WR’s couldn’t come up with enough catches to make the play calling effective. 

-Biggest Head Scratcher: Why, after a 22 yard TD run by Fred Jackson, the Bills opted to kick the extra point as opposed to going for the two point conversion in order to tie the game. At the time Buffalo was down 14-6, the TD making the score 14-12. Initially the Bills went for two and made it, but the play was called back due to a Buffalo penalty. Coach Dick Jauron then opted to kick the extra point to make the score 14-13. I don’t get this call. Whether you make the two point conversion or not, you’re still down by a field goal but if you do make the conversion, the game is tied. I suppose it didn’t matter though as the Bills went on to kick the crap out of the Rams anyway.

-Performance Grades:

A: Jabari Greer. The CB had his first career NFL touchdown, which came in the form of a 33 yard interception return. The play couldn’t have happened at a better time as it gave the Bills the lead, and consequently the game winning score. Greer looked awesome on the play, avoiding a diving St. Louis offensive linemen as if to say, “No way fat man, I’m hitting pay dirt!”

B+: The Bills D. They stood tall against a star running back, a QB looking to make his way back into the league, and essentially a team who had nothing to lose. Despite their early struggles, the defense came up big in the second half by holding the Rams to zero points. Also, I give props to DT Marcus Stroud and CB Leodis McKelvin. Stroud was injured in the game but managed to tough it out as he continued to play, and McKelvin did a commendable job filling in for the injured Terrence McGee. Still, a better pass rush would be nice to see develop over the coming weeks. 

B: Josh Reed/Lee Evans. WR Josh Reed has become the ‘go to guy’ when a play goes wrong for the offense. When QB Trent Edwards’ inner monologue is a loud and clear “Oh Crap!,” he looks to Reed and Josh delivers. After a horrendous performance last week against the Raiders, Lee Evans rebounded with a solid ‘good’ game. Granted, Evans only had two catches on the day, but they were pretty ones. He caught a deep pass for 49 yards on the Bills first drive which led to a field goal, and then drove the dagger into the heart of St. Louis with his 39 yard TD catch to put the Bills up 28-14. I still await a breakout day for either of these two veteran players. 

C: Trent Edwards. The sophomore QB had his ‘worst’ game of the season going 15/25 for 197 yards with 1 TD, and 1 INT. The stats didn’t disappoint me so much as seeing Edwards sulking on the bench when the Bills were getting beat. That’s not the type of emotion I like to see emitting from my team captain, and it reminded me all too much of former starting QB, J.P. Losman. I don’t want to go down that road again, and I hope the end result of this game showed Edwards to not get down on himself when there is still time left on the clock.

D: James Hardy. The rookie WR had a chance to prove himself yesterday, starting in place of the injured Roscoe Parrish. Unfortunately the amazing game winning TD catch we saw against the Jaguars didn’t carry over to St. Louis as Hardy had a rough day. The rookie was getting a lot of looks from Trent Edwards early in the game, but he dropped everything and ended up with zero catches. Hopefully Hardy can shake this and become the receiver we all hoped he’d be on draft day.

F: Once again the big fat ‘F’ on the report card goes to the big fat OT, Jason Peters. For three weeks in a row, Peters has looked slow, out of shape, and not like the guy who was the only Bill voted into the Pro Bowl last season. He was called on holding during the Bills opening drive, negating a huge run by Marshawn Lynch in the red zone, turning a probable 7 points into only 3. Peters also had a false start called on him, which resulted in a Buffalo punt. Coach Jauron needs to get this guy in shape or off the field as he’s done nothing to help in the Bills perfect start to the season.

-Best Hit: Buffalo CB Leodis McKelvin on St. Louis WR Dane Looker. I’ll avoid the obvious pun on this and just say: Wow. After the hit, Looker tried to get to the sidelines, but couldn’t make it as he collapsed to his knees after taking a few steps. It took him more than 5 minutes to get off the field, and to top it off, Looker fumbled and McKelvin recovered. Awesome. 

-Best Sight to Behold: The entire 4th quarter. Apparently, the 4th quarter is when the Bills decide to turn it on and go for the win. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; The 2008 Buffalo Bills remind me of the 2005-2006 Buffalo Sabres. Like that squad of Sabres, this years Bills are young, fast, hungry, not predicted by anybody to go anywhere, and they turn it on when they have to, finding ways to win. To note, the Sabres started out that season 10-0…

-Best Fact: There were 25 unanswered points scored by the Bills in the second half.

-Best Quote: “We’ve really picked up one another. You know, the offense finished the game strong last week. We got those two big scores this week in the fourth quarter, so really it’s been a team thing. Nobody’s really blamed anybody for any downtime or anything like that. We really stuck together. That means a lot, man, [and] it’s going to pay off in the long run.” – Bills LB, Kawika Mitchell

-The Final Word: The Bills sit at first place in the AFC East at 4-0 and travel to Arizona this week to take on the 2-2 Cardinals. Yesterday Arizona lost one of their top receivers in Anquan Boldin who had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. I hope he’s okay, but this should be favorable for Buffalo as the Cardinals offense would be greatly affected with the loss of Boldin. Come next Sunday night, the Bills should be 5-0 heading into their bye week.

Billieve.

I’m trying something different this week with my Bills game analysis; A quick report card on the 3-0 Buffalo Bills 24-23 come back win against the 1-2 Oakland Raiders on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Here she is:

-Best Speech: Bruce Smith’s acceptance speech of becoming the 25th player to be inducted onto the sacred Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame. It was the best most rehearsed speech I have ever heard.  

-Most Confusing Speech: Ralph Wilson’s introduction of Bruce Smith. With an average of 15 seconds between words, Wilson’s six sentence speech took too damn long to follow. I don’t think anyone knew what the hell he was saying. 

-Best Performance in a Losing Effort: Sebastian Janikowski. The Raiders kicker played an excellent game against Bobby April’s elite special teams unit. Twice Janikowski kicked the ball into the end zone, not allowing the dazzling Buffalo special teamers do their thing. In fact, the Bills special teams units were essentially a non factor, being held to 9 punt return yards and an average of 25 yards per kick off return. Oh yeah, Janikowski is also 6/6 on field goals this year. Good for him.

-Unexplainable Feeling Award: For some reason whenever the Bills wear their retro throwback uniforms, as they did on Sunday, I get this sinking feeling in my gut that they’ll lose. I understand it makes no sense, and I’m obviously overjoyed to know that I was wrong this time around, but it happens every time they don those specs. The same thing happens to me when the Sabres wear their throwback sweater. Freaks me out.

-Biggest Head Scratcher: When with 2:29 left to play in the game Raiders coach Lane Kiffin never called a time out when the Bills were driving to steal the game away. Kiffin didn’t even try to ice Lindell on the game deciding kick. That seemed very odd to me.

-Most Drunk Award: The 12th Man. As expected we did our job and were loud. I love feeling like a part of the team. 

-Best Hit: When Donte Whitner popped Johnnie Lee Higgins in the end zone for taunting his way in for an 84 yard TD catch. I say good for Donte. It wasn’t a vicious hit and Higgins was acting like a piece of crap so I’m okay with it.

-Performance Grades:

A: Trent Edwards. Gotta hand it to the guy. After being rushed, hurried, and hit all day long (thanks Jason Peters!) and having a less than stellar game entering the fourth quarter, Edwards hung in there. He was a vocal leader, rallying his troops and bringing them to victory. His stats on the day were 24/39 279 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. In only 12 games with the NFL, Trent Edwards is developing faster than we Bills fans could have hoped and it’s an awesome thing to behold. 

B+: Rian Lindell. Even though he missed a crucial-at-the-time 46 yarder, Lindell redeemed himself by making the 38 yard game winning kick as time expired. I remember when Bills fans would be nervous for kicks like these, but now they all feel like gimmies when Lindell is booting the ball. I love this guy and he’s come a long way since he first came to Buffalo in 2003. 

B-: The Bills Defense. They performed when they had to, recording a sack and forcing a fumble from JaMarcus Russell, all while standing tall in a frustrating first half. Still, the unit had their moments of getting burned, such as on the ground game. Granted the D held the Raiders to 98 rush yards as well as a 2/12 3rd down conversion ratio. This is a great stat considering the week before Oakland rushed for over 300 yards against the Chiefs. Still, they gave up some big plays. Most notably with just over six minutes left in the game on 3rd and 10, Russell managed to get the ball to WR Johnnie Lee Higgins who showboated his jackass self 84 yards into the end zone to put Oakland up 23-14. The 12th Man hadn’t been louder all day than on that play and the D blew their coverage. If the Oakland Raiders were the San Diego Chargers (or any other team for that matter), the end result of this game may not have been so joyous for Bills fans after giving up a play like that. But who knows. Props to Marcus Stroud for making the Jills look bad. He was getting the crowd pumped up all day long. I love that in a player. The defense also held Russell to 9/19 156 yards, 1 TD. Not bad, but they still need to improve on their tackling!

C+: Josh Reed. It’s nice to see this guy develop. I remember him dropping 50 yard passes when he was wide open back in the day. But all that is in the past. Reed is a great slot receiver and has cleansed his hands of the butter and grease that he had them doused in early in his career. On Sunday Reed was Edwards’ #1 receiver having 6 catches for 72 yards, breaking tackles and picking up extra yards after the catch. He gets only a C+ because Bills nation is still eagerly looking forward to seeing Reed bust loose.

D: Lee Evans. This game was one of the worst of his career. He allowed big-mouthed-ex-Falcon DeAngelo Hall to strip the ball from him which led to Oakland points. Evans also fumbled and had a costly offensive pass interference call, which was unneccessarry. I don’t mean to dump on the guy too harshly, but a bad day is a bad day. We’re still waiting from last season for Lee to make the breakout plays that electrifyed crowds back in 2006. Hopefully a weak Rams team can help with that in week 4.

F: Jason Peters. He missed all of training camp, preseason, and the home opener. Two weeks in a row Peters has let his man get by him, resulting in an Edwards fumble and points for the opposing team. To quote: “In another week I’ll be back to 100 percent every play, getting ready to go… It’s physical. Just getting my body in shape. The mental part comes.” Hmmm… maybe he should have gone to work this summer with the rest of the team and gotten in shape. Playing as yourself in Madden ’09 on your X-Box 360 while smoking a bowl with a bag of Doritos by your side does not count as “knowing all the plays,” Jason.  

-Biggest Disappointment: I’ve been to both Bills home games so far and I have yet to see a man leap from the stands and attempt to run from end zone to end zone while dodging security. This saddens me.

-Best Sight to Behold: Seeing the en masse of Raiders fans who showed up in their ridiculous looking Mad Max-S & M-KISS-wannabe-suits (there thousands upon thousands of them!) go home to the West Coast wondering how the holy heck their team blew this one.

-Best Pro Analysis: Vic Carucci of http://www.nfl.com puts the Bills at 4th place in his Power Rankings after week 3: “Should have been easier vs. the Raiders, but Trent Edwards showed once again that he knows when to rise to the occasion.” Yes it is true, Carucci does live in WNY.

-Best Fact: I was eight years old the last time the Buffalo Bills were 3-0 back in 1992. It’s nice to be excited again.

-Final Word: The Bills take on the 0-3 St. Louis Rams this week in St. Louis. A win here would be huge as their next opponent is the inconsistent 2-1 Arizona Cardinals in Arizona. It’s easy to think that Buffalo could be 5-0 heading into their bye week. Here’s to hoping.

Billieve.