Everyone please welcome back down to Earth your Buffalo Bills.

On Sunday the Bills lost their first game of the season, dropping to 4-1 against the 3-2 Arizona Cardinals, by a score of 17-41.

Ouch.

The report card:

NOOO!! Moment: When Bills starting QB Trent Edwards left the field after only his third snap of the game with a concussion, and disgruntled backup J.P. Losman had to take over.

Best Performance in a Losing Effort: This one’s tough as no player really stood out in the game. I suppose I will go with Marshawn Lynch because the guy never quits. Still, he has yet to break a 100 yard game this season, and the way he runs and takes hits makes you feel like he may be next on the injury chopping block.

That’s A Shame Award: The Buffalo Bills overall performance. A shame indeed. 

Biggest Disappointment: The Bills defense. They looked terrible. The Cardinals scored on all four of their first half possessions, and on three of six possessions in the second half. The biggest let down by the defense was in the second quarter after Bills QB J.P. Losman connected with WR Lee Evans on an 87 yard TD pass to cut the Cardinals lead in half, making the score 14-7. Instead of stopping the Cardinals on their next drive, the defense allowed them to find the end zone on a 1 yard TD run by RB Edgerrin James. And where the hell has the pass rush been all season long? It’s basically non-existent. This was the defense’s first true test against a good offense, and they need to step it up if they hope to be a contender in January.

Biggest Head Scratcher Award: Why the [expletive] didn’t Bills coach Dick Jauron challenge the Robert Royal fumble with 2:33 left in the 3rd quarter? At the time the Bills were down by only two scores. I have no idea why Jauron thought a timeout was more valuable than maintaining possession of the ball. Depending on your bias, it looked like Royal’s knee was down before the ball came lose. The turnover cost the Bills the game mentally, as the Cardinals scored a field goal on the ensuing drive, putting themselves up by three scores.

[Worst] Fact: Before this game the Bills defense was the best in the NFL on stopping third down conversions. Yet against Arizona they stopped only 4 of the 16 Cardinal 3rd downs, and couldn’t halt Arizona when they went for it on 4th and 1 early in the 4th quarter… jeez.

Best Sight to Behold: Losman to Evans for an 87 yard TD pass. It was cool to see that again. Unfortunately J.P. comes with a garbage truck load full of problems. All of WNY (and the Buffalo Bills team) sighed in pre-mature defeat when Losman took the field to replace Edwards. We all knew we’d seen this show before, and Sunday was no different than Losman’s previous four seasons with the Bills. I have one burning question about J.P: why does he always refuse to take a step or two up in the pocket, and how has this behavior not been corrected in five NFL seasons? Stepping up in the pocket would prevent him from both A) getting sacked so much and B) fumbling.

Pat on the Back Award: I suppose if there are games to lose they are the games against non-conference opponents… so take that for whatever it’s worth. 

Most Drunk Award: Everyone who thinks the Bills’ season is on the fritz with this loss. Relax. After being spanked by the Jets last week, and a below .500 record at stake while playing at home, the Cardinals were put in a pressured situation. They responded. Now let’s see if the Bills can.

Final Word: For three weeks in a row the Bills have had to play from behind by the end of the first quarter. They need to take the pressure off of themselves by scoring fast and early, which is what they did in weeks one and two. Since week 6 is a bye for Buffalo, hopefully key starters (Edwards, Parrish, McGee, Stroud) can get healthy and be ready to play against the San Diego Charges at Ralph Wilson Stadium in week 7. 

Billieve.

Wow. 

This past summer Terrence McGee promised Western New Yorkers the Buffalo Bills would make a playoff appearance in 2008.

The way things went today, I’m inclined to believe him.

The young Bills blew out the Seattle Seahawks this afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium with a final score of 34-10. Sitting through the first half was a little rough, with rain and a temperature in the low 60s, but in the third quarter the sun came out as if to welcome the Bills to a promising 2008 season.

Brief game summary:

The beginning of the game was a defensive match up with both teams struggling offensively with plenty of dropped passes due to the slick weather conditions. The first score of the game came with under three minutes left in the first when Buffalo running back Marshawn Lynch turned on ‘Beast Mode’ and busted through the Seattle line for a 21 yard TD run on 3rd and 11. After a juke filled punt return for a TD by Buffalo’s Roscoe Parrish, some clock mismanagement by Seattle, and a pair of Buffalo field goals (35, 38 yards), the Seahawks finished the first half down 20-7. With four minutes left in the third the game was blown open by a trick play from Buffalo’s special teams coach, Bobby April, which took everyone by surprise- Including the fans. In a play that should be dubbed ‘The Statue’ (due to kicker Rian Lindell’s motionless stance during the play), the Bills faked a field goal and punter Brian Moorman easily tossed a 19 yard TD pass to DE Ryan Denney. 25 seconds later, Trent Edwards connected with TE Robert Royal for his first TD of the season on a 30 yard pass play following a fumble recovery by the Bills special teams unit.

The rest is history.

Some thoughts on the game:

-The Bills offensive line looked great today. Quarterback Trent Edwards was sacked only once, but otherwise he was protected all day long… And this was all without that whiney baby, Jason Peters in the lineup. Also, the defensive line was able to keep constant pressure on Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck, sacking him five times and picking him off once. Seeing both lines perform at such a high level has been rare at best for Bills fans, and today was a hopeful sign of things to come.

-The defense played hard, and LB Kawika Mitchell proved why he was such a valuable off season acquisition. In addition to his leadership and instilling confidence in the younger players, he had four tackles and a sack. Unlike last season, the Bills were able to stuff the run and put pressure on the Seattle wide receivers. The Seahawks had only 85 yards rushing and 190 yards through the air. Also, the fourth quarter goal line stand to keep the Seahawks out of the endzone, while meaningless at that point in the game, gave the fans something extra to cheer about. The defense allowed Seattle to complete only 3 of 16 third downs. Bravo Buffalo.

-It’s obvious that Trent Edwards is developing a rapport with Robert Royal. They connected a few times during the preseason and they connected today for Edwards’ only touchdown. This excites me because since Jay Riemersma (remember him?) the TE position on the Bills has been anything but useful.

-Marshawn Lynch is a beast. Period.

-As usual the special teams showed up and made a huge difference in the game, scoring 14 points. Rian Lindell’s ‘The Statue’ play was brilliant, and Roscoe Parrish’s 63 yard punt return for a TD was electrifying. Bobby April is a genius and Parrish is undeniably the best punt returner in Bills history. 

-How’s this for an interesting stat: In the last six years, the Bills are 3-3 in season openers, but they have only trailed 8 minutes and 33 seconds in those six games. Today they trailed for 00:00.

-Props to the 12th Man. We were loud today.

-The Bills have definitely improved their skills in the clock management department. Last season they were terrible at this (watch the Broncos and Cowboys games) but that was not the case today. Edwards would let the clock tick down before snapping the ball, and the team managed to score two field goals within the final minute of the first half.

-Buffalo scored 34 points in this game. They scored more than that only once last season, against Miami.

-Dick Jauron should be commended for keeping his team disciplined. The Bills were only penalized once for a bogus 14 yard defensive pass interference call on CB Jabari Greer. It was nice to not see the Bills defeat themselves. 

-The only major qualm I have with the game is that Edwards needs to be more accurate with his passes. I understand the weather was a factor, but he needs to adapt better; especially because he is playing in Buffalo eight games a year (well, seven due to Toronto). The weather here is rarely agreeable and Trent must improve this aspect of his game.  

Parting wisdom:

I’m very happy I made it home to Buffalo last night after spending the summer in Oregon so I could attend this game. Had I missed it, I probably would have been banned from airports across the country due to excessive frustration at sitting this one out. Anyway, the Dolphins are still terrible, Brett Favre is only getting older, and Tom Brady is reported to be out for the season… AFC East, here we come! 

GO BILLS!!
(What was with the Buffalo Jills wearing ponchos? Lame.)

Second two photos taken by Andy Liegl.