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!

It’s the same old out of tune song for Buffalo sports fans:1112866

Wide right to lose the game. Where have we heard that one before?

For two straight years the Buffalo Bills have allowed the Cleveland Browns to hack a severe gash in their playoff hopes as the Browns beat the Bills 27-29 on Monday Night Football.

I have a lot to vent about, so brace yourself.

The report card: 

Best Performance in a Losing Effort: RB Marshawn Lynch. Finally, Lynch broke the 100 yard mark this season getting 23 carries for 119 yards. He was also Trent Edwards go to guy pulling in 10 catches for 58 yards and a TD. Lynch stepped up his defensive play by doing a great job blocking for Edwards and picking up the blitz. It’s too bad that his best performance of the year ended up being meaningless due to the atrocious play of his quarterback.

Most Drunk Award: Bills QB Trent Edwards. The guy looked horrendous, terrible, god-awful, [insert adjective here]. It seems for the past four weeks now we Bills fans have been thinking ‘that was Trent’s worst game all season’… well, that thought continued on Monday night. In his last four games Edwards has thrown only 3 TD’s and 8 interceptions. He hasn’t looked the same since suffering a concussion in week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals. He looks scared. In the first eleven and a half minutes of play Edwards threw three interceptions, effectively taking the crowd out of the game. Granted, the first pick wasn’t his fault as the ball was tipped at the line, but the next two were bone head throws that looked like something our old pal J.P. Losman would have done. Speaking of J.P., it appears as though Edwards has been taking notes from the former Bills starter. Edwards displayed Losman choreography all night long: three step drop, no steps forward, and unerring happy feet. The worst part about Trent’s horrible performance is that the excuses we were making for him the last four weeks were fixed in this game; a lackluster run game and a bad offensive line. Well, last night the run game had its best performance of the season and the O line gave Edwards all sorts of time to make a play. After the three picks, Edwards looked scared to throw the ball, going with his ‘panic’ option and tossing short passes to Lynch on the line of scrimmage… which leads me to the next award.

Biggest Head Scratcher Award: There were so many head scratching moments in this pathetic loss by the Bills it’s hard to pick just one. I suppose I’ll go with the most obvious, frustrating fact of the game: Lee Evans 0 catches for 0 yards. This stat is not the fault of Evans but of his scared, wussy quarterback, Trent Edwards. After the first pass of the game was tipped and resulted in an interception, Edwards threw zero balls to Evans. Zero. How the hell do you expect to win a game when you never throw a ball to your biggest play maker? The worst part about this statistic is that Evans was open all the time. This is not an overstatement. On nearly every route he ran, Evans was wide open. Half the time Edwards didn’t even check Lee and how he missed seeing him the other half of the time blows my mind. The head scratching has turned into hair pulling. Come on Trent, grow some balls and play. 

Worst Stat: Rian Lindell, wide right from 47 yards to win the game. Guh. Thank you history for throwing that one back in our face. Add it to the fact that last season on Monday Night Football Buffalo lost to the Dallass Cowboys by a last second field goal. By missing that kick, it’s unfair to make Rian Lindell the scapegoat of the game, and you can’t blame him for the loss.

Seriously!? Award:  However, you can blame Bills head coach [Limp] Dick Jauron and offensive coordinator Turk Schonert for the Bills loss. Especially for calling three poop-in-the-pants plays in a row preceding the potential game winning field goal. The three running plays were terribly executed, gaining 2, 2, and 1 yards respectively. The coaching staff did nothing to try and confuse the defense; no play action, no quick pass for a few extra yards, nothing. Let’s not forget that these plays were preceded by a 22 yard hook up of Edwards to TE Robert Royal to put the Bills in field goal range. Why not stick with what had just worked? Cleveland used all three of their timeouts in-between those plays, and the coaches couldn’t think of anything better to call than three lackluster runs? At the very least go in shotgun formation and give the ball to RB Fred Jackson, a play that worked against the Browns all game. But no, three lame, uninspired runs were used to set up a 47 yard field goal. Hey Dick [Head], history tells us that 47 yard field goals aren’t a gimme. Just ask Jim Kelly why he has no ring on his finger.

Lack of Common Sense Award: The coaching staff. In addition to all of the points I made above it bears mentioning that the Bills wasted four of six timeouts in this game due to not being prepared with a play. Three of these wasted time outs were absolutely inexcusable: 1) In the first quarter the Bills had a 3rd and 1 on their own 10 yard line and lined up with an empty backfield. Edwards looked confused [surprise!] and called a time out. Now, one would think that after calling a time out, you would adjust your play to what the defense had shown you. Well, that didn’t happen and the Bills lined up in the exact same formation and Trent threw his third pick of the day! 2) When in the third quarter, the Browns had a 3rd and 10 and the defense called time out. After the time out, QB Brady Quinn tossed a 23 yard pass to WR Braylon Edwards for a first down because [gasp!] the Bills faked a LB blitz! How typical. 3) This one is the game’s worst waste of a time out, and it came when the Bills were on offense. With 2:35 left to play Marshawn Lynch broke a 28 yard run to put the Bills on the Cleveland 1 yard line. Now, one would expect the Bills to rush to the line of scrimmage and keep the defense on their toes or at least enact their hurry up offense. But no. They didn’t. They called a time out. How the #$%* do you not have a play ready in that situation!? How? The Bills had an extra day to prepare for this match-up and they looked like a bunch of confused high school kids. Pathetic.

Biggest Mouth Award: CB Terrence McGee. Before the season began he promised a Bills playoff game this year. Seems like Terrence McGee is a lying sack of crap. I must admit, he did play well in this game, defending against six passes… Oops! I forgot about how he was playing 15 yards off of his man during Cleveland’s game winning drive. All the Browns needed was a field goal to take the lead in the final minutes of the game, and McGee is playing that far off of his man. Come on now Terrence. Come on now.

How in the Hell…? Award: Goes to the Bills offense. They (and by ‘they’ I mostly mean Trent Edwards) negated a great game by the special teams unit. The Bills average starting field position was on their own 35 yard line. That’s pretty darn good. Even better was that the offense commenced six drives from at least their own 41 yard line. This is how those six drives went: punt, field goal, field goal, punt, TD, wide %#&@ing right. Nice work offense. About the special teams, I have to give props to kick returner Leodis McKelvin who ran back a 98 yard kick off for a TD. Too bad on the ensuing kick off Lindell booted it out of bounds at the Cleveland 43, giving them great field position which turned into a Browns field goal. 

What The Hell Do You Get Paid For Award: Goes to the referee who failed to see Braylon Edwards mauling Terrence McGee on the first play of the fourth quarter. On this play Browns RB Jerome Harrison broke a 72 yard TD run. He was able to do this mainly because McGee was trying to not get raped by Braylon Edwards who was holding onto him like a psycho obsessive girlfriend. If not for this blatant hold, Terrence would have caught up to Harrison around the 30 yard line. This all happened right in front of the officials big fat face who was too busy watching the bouncing buns of a sprinting Harrison instead of catching an obvious holding call. Add this to the crap ‘unnecessary roughness’ call on Kawika Mitchell on the Browns next drive, and you have a duo of blind, patty-cake officials. Hey, it wasn’t Mitchell’s fault that Harrison lost his footing while being shoved out of bounds and smashed his head against a wall. Seriously, it wasn’t.

The Final Word: Mathematically the Bills aren’t out of the playoff hunt, but they will need a lot of help if they hope to make this season memorable. In the AFC East they are in last place at 5-5, with the Pats and Dolphins at 6-4, and the Jets are in first with a 7-3 record. It is very clear that the Bills need to start winning and other teams need to start losing for a playoff hope to exist. Trent Edwards needs to mature, and quickly. The fact that Bills couldn’t beat the Cleveland Brown stains doesn’t give me much faith. 

But faith is still there… somehow.

Billieve.

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Yes, I know a dolphin is a mammal. 

That must be the reason why no fish were squished this past Sunday by the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills (5-2) lost their first divisional game on Sunday against long time rival quarterback, Chad Pennington and his Miami Dolphins (3-4).

To be painfully blunt, the Bills looked pathetic. After keeping the NFL’s highest powered offense under control last week in the San Diego Chargers, week eight’s match-up against the rebuilding Miami Dolphins should not have concluded as a 16-25 loss.

But it did. Onto the report card:

Best Performance in a Losing Effort: Rian Lindell. He kicked three field goals (19, 43, 47) yesterday. Good for him for keeping the Bills in the game for awhile.

Biggest Head Scratcher Award: Why do the Bills always fake the blitz? The linebackers will line up as if they’re going to come at the QB, but then drop back into the zone once the ball is snapped. When the Bills drop back and allow talented QB’s to complete quick passes, it’s reflective of the style of Trent Edwards and how he succeeds against defenses. The Bills defense has played this way all season long, most specifically this week against Miami and the previous two games against San Diego and Arizona. The Cardinals amassed 250 yards passing and 2 TD’s, the Chargers 208 passing yards and 2 TD’s, and the Dolphins 314 passing yards with 1 TD against a soft Bills defense. Could these stats be worse? Of course. However, everything isn’t as it appears on paper. In watching these games it is obvious that when the Bills do blitz, they usually come up with a big play. The Bills need to change their unaggressive style immediately and attack the opposing team’s quarterback. The four man rush does not work. 

‘Coolest’ Stat: In 108 straight games the Buffalo Bills had not blocked a field goal. That is the longest streak in the NFL, and it was snapped Sunday when Langston Walker blocked a 46 yard Dan Carpenter field goal attempt late in the second quarter. Unfortunately that’s the best stat of the game for the Bills.

Lack of Common Sense Award: Goes to BIlls CB Terrence McGee and head coach Dick Jauron. McGee was obviously not 100% healthy yet as he got burned by Ted Ginn Jr. all day long. Why didn’t he say to Coach Dick Jauron he wasn’t ready to play? Why didn’t Jauron pull McGee? Is there that little faith in rookie CB Leodis McKelvin? 

Seriously!? Award: This one goes to Miami WR Ted Ginn Jr. who had a career high day, pulling in 7 receptions for 175 yards. Of course, he was paired up against a wounded Terrence McGee, making his life a lot easier. But still, he was allowed 175 freakin’ receiving yards! This guy isn’t Randy Moss or Terrell Owens for poop’s sake, he’s Ted Ginn… Junior. The Bills allowed this no name to amass 175 yards!? Seriously!? 

Face the Facts: When the Buffalo special teams unit performs, the Bills have a better chance of wining. In this game the Bills had 0 punt return yards and a mere 19.6 yard average on kick-off returns. Last week against San Diego the Bills averaged 5 yards per punt return and only 19.3 yards per kick-off return. In week 5 against Arizona, Buffalo averaged 17 yards per punt return (there were only two) but a mere 20.9 yards per kick-off return. Compare that to an average of 54 yards per punt return along with a 26.5 yard return average on kick-offs in week one against the Seattle Seahawks, and a week four punt return average of 15.6 yards paired with a kick-off return average of 32.3 yards against the Rams, and my point becomes clear; This is not the special teams unit we are accustomed to seeing. Teams have opted to strip the special teams advantage away from the Bills by not kicking to Roscoe Parrish and Leodis McKelvin. When this element of the game is taken away from Buffalo, the team struggles. And it hurts.

NOOOOO!! Moment: When Bills WR Josh Reed went out of the game with a sprained achilles. Dick Jauron has stated that he wants to take the time in allowing Reed to recover and does not wish to take any chances. Wonderful. Hopefully rookie WR James Hardy will step it up. So far he has been less than average this season having only 7 receptions for 66 yards and a TD accompanied by a whole mess of drops. 

Most Drunk Award: Goes to Bills QB Trent Edwards. After the Dolphins went up 20-16 early in the fourth quarter, the camera panned to the Bills sideline. There, Edwards was seen sitting alone on the bench with a defeated, frustrated look on his face. This pissed me off. In weeks before when the Bills were down, Edwards could be seen on the sideline amping up his team, itching to get back on the field to regain the lead. Need I remind the reading audience of the Bills 4th quarter come backs against Jacksonville, Oakland, and St. Louis? No? Well, maybe I should have reminded Trent. At this point the Bills were only down by four points with nearly an entire quarter left to play. Yet, here is our star quarterback looking as if the game is already over. I don’t like that. That is the behavior J.P. Losman was privy to. Trent Edwards is supposed to be a leader. So lead Trent. 

That’s Weird Award: Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan and Trent Edwards both threw simultaneous interceptions. While watching the Bills game on TV and following the Falcons game on NFL.com’s live feed, I witnessed this awful stat take place. Edwards threw his pick at exactly the 15:00 mark of the 4th quarter, and Ryan tossed his turnover at 2:20 left in the third against the Philadelphia Eagles. Both QB’s lost their games.

It’s About Damn Time Award: This was the first game in which Trent Edwards looked like a rookie. Edwards was 21/25 with 227 yards, a pick, 0 TD’s, 2 fumbles, and a safety. Yikes. Here’s to rebounding in week nine…

What The Hell Do You Get Paid For Award: Congratulations Robert Royal! I commented positively about his game play in week 1 against Seattle, as well as his pre-season play. Thank you Robert for making me eat my words. In this game he had three drops and a fumble which ended any Bills hopes of a comeback. Oh yeah, Royal did have two catches for 26 yards… horray.

Final Word: I could continue with this weeks report card, but it’s too depressing. When the 2008 NFL season is in the books, this game has the potential to be looked back upon as a pivotal turning point for both the Bills and the Dolphins. Miami looked very impressive on Sunday, and this could be the win they needed to steer their season in the right direction. More importantly, this game has the potential to knock the Bills down a peg. Next week Buffalo takes on the Jets at home which is followed by a road trip to New England. That’s three divisional games in a row and with this loss, the Bills have allotted themselves no margin for error. The AFC East race for first place is a tight one with the Bills and Patriots at 5-2, the Jets at 4-3 and the Dolphins at 3-4. Only time will tell how all of this will play out, but it continues next week at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Billieve.

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.

 

It feels awesome saying this:

The Buffalo Bills are 2-0.

They earned this record today by persevering in a hard fought game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. In near 100 degree heat, Buffalo answered the question as to how good they really are after easily defeating the Seattle Seahawks last week. Now, two games in a row, the Bills have defeated a 2007 playoff contender.

I think that statement speaks for itself.

Brief game summary:

After the Jaguars opted to kick the ball instead of receive, the Bills started off strong by scoring on their opening drive, traveling 82 yards to the end zone in exactly seven minutes. Buffalo RB Marshawn Lynch scored on an 11 yard run to put the Bills on top 7-0 early in the game. The Jags responded with a field goal, and the Bills responded with one of their own. Then, when it looked as if the Jaguars would score with seconds left in the half, Jacksonville QB David Garrard was picked off by CB Terrence McGee in the end zone. The Bills would lead at the half 10-3, but the Jaguars responded in the third, tying the game on a Maurice Jones-Drew 2 yard TD run. Josh Scobee would tack on 6 more with two field goals (50,39) to put the Jaguars up 13-10 with six minutes left in the third quarter. This was the first time all season that the Bills trailed in a game. With just over four minutes left in the fourth, Trent Edwards showed some gusto by connecting with Lee Evans on a beautiful pass for 37 yards on 3rd and 6 to keep the Bills chances alive. Seconds later he found the rookie WR James Hardy in the end zone who made a spectacular stretching catch to tie the game. The extra point put the Bills up by 1. Buffalo sealed the deal when when the defense stood tall to get Buffalo the ball back with a little more than two minutes left in the game. Rian Lindell capitalized on the opportunity by making a 45 yard field goal with 24 seconds remaining to play.

Now the Bills sit at 2-0, tied for first place in the AFC East alongside the New England Patriots.

Some thoughts on the game:

-Before the opening kick off happened, the Jaguars made two head scratching moves. The first is that they opted to wear their dark jerseys, thus allowing the Bills to wear their white away uniforms. Why didn’t the Jags wear their lighter uniforms and force the Bills to don their darks considering the temperature was never lower than 90 degrees? Secondly, Jacksonville won the coin toss and elected to kick the ball off to the Bills. Buffalo made them pay for that decision with their flawless opening drive.

-Today was OT Jason Peters’ first game back from his hold out with the Bills, and I have to admit the guy I dubbed a ‘whiney baby’ last week showed that he is a valuable part of this team. Aside from the time where he let his man blow by him (which led to a Trent Edwards fumble), Peters did a commendable job protecting his QB. I’m glad to see he’s back and ready to play.

-LB Paul Posluszny is a monster on the field and reminds me of Bill Romanowski; Posluszny hits hard and looks mean doing it. After missing the last 13 games of the season last year with a broken forearm, it’s great to see him developing into the player we all hoped he would be.

-Last week I commented that Buffalo QB Trent Edwards needed to get more accurate with his passes if the Bills wanted to improve their game play. I’m glad to see he reads my blog! Edwards was 10/10 for 114 yards before throwing his first incompletion, and at the end of the day his stats were 20/25, 239 yards, 1 TD. Impressive for such a young guy playing against a formidable defense. Edwards’ best play of the game was when the Bills were trailing 10-16 with four minutes left to play and he hit WR Lee Evans for 37 yards on 3rd and 6 to give the Bills a chance at a comeback…

-James Hardy’s first career TD catch was one only he could have caught. The 2nd round pick, 6’5″, rookie WR out of Indiana made a spectacular toe line grab in the end zone to tie the game. Edwards tossed the ball so high that it looked difficult for even a stretching Hardy to come down with. The pass was for 7 yards and was reviewed before the 6 points were put on the board. After barely given a chance to play last week against Seattle, Hardy’s game winning TD catch should help him move up the depth chart. Let this guy play coach. He’s hungry. 

-Fred Jackson where did you come from?! Last season the Buffalo RB made some noise when Marshawn Lynch went out with an injury, but today he proved not only to be a formidable backup, he proved to be a valuable member of this young Bills team. Jackson, age 27, rushed for only 17 yards on 6 carries, but he was the top receiver of the day for Edwards with 7 receptions for 83 yards. Not only would he make catches, he would get large chunks of yards after the catch. Jackson and Lynch serve as a formidable duo in the two back set, and with his hands he is turning into a respected (and needed) weapon on this Bills offense.

-Props to the Jags O line. For being so beat up (four starters injured), they held their own and protected their QB from an aggressive Buffalo pass rush. They also did a superb job of keeping their former teammate, Marcus Stroud, from ever becoming a factor in the game as he registered 0 tackles on the day.

-I applaud head coach Dick Jauron and new offensive coordinator Turk Schonert, for staying aggressive the entire game. The Bills of the previous decade would have sat back and let the Jaguars dictate the game. That wasn’t the case today and it showed in the teams determination to win.

-The Bills proved today that they can win a game against a tough team without having any ‘big’ special teams play.

Some criticisms on today:

-The defense needs to seriously work on their tackling. This was a major flaw in the D last season, and there were too many close calls today. Far too often the Bills had Jacksonville RB’s Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor locked up in the backfield and they still managed to jet ahead for positive yardage. David Garrard also had a decent day on the ground, shifting and sneaking his way for 32 yards rushing. Despite the sloppy tackling, CB Ashton Youboty had some fantastic open field tackles. His most notable stop was during the Jaguars second last possession of the game. Youboty made a key open field tackle on Garrard to set up fourth down, forcing the Jags to punt the ball away with just under three minutes left to play. The Bills would capitalize with the possession, going on to score a final field goal to take a 4 point lead. Nice work Ashton, you’re showing why you were such a hyped up pick back in 2006. Keep it up.

-Unlike last week, the Bills burned themselves today with stupid penalties. Granted there were only 4 of them for a total of 40 penalized yards, but they all came at key times during the game. A block in the back negated a strong Roscoe Parrish punt return Buffalo’s second possession, and there were a lot of defensive penalties which aided the Jaguar’s on offense, keeping drives alive on 3rd down. The young Bills can’t allow their excitement to result in silly mistakes, and they need to get a grip, settle down, and mature as a team if they want to make a serious playoff run. 

Parting Wisdom:

For the first time since 1992, the Bills could go 3-0 if they defeat the 1-1 Oakland Raiders next week. After the Raiders, Buffalo takes on the St. Louis Rams (0-2) and the Arizona Cardinals (2-0) before heading into the bye week. Anyone can see that 5-0 is a very real possibility, and with the NY Jets and New England Patriots looking awful against each other today, the race is on for superiority in the AFC East. It’s an exciting time to be a Bills fan.

GO BILLS!!

 P.S. Why did Fred Jackson literally lie down on the ground during a kick off in the first half?… weird.

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.