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Weekly News Archives - Nov. 20th - Nov. 26thPrevious Week

Injuries Decimate Bills In Loss

Rob JohnsonMiscues, Injuries Cost Bills: The Bills gained over 400 yards offensively but committed a costly fumble, and had numerous special teams breakdowns in the 31-17 loss to Tampa Bay. Special teams gave up numerous big returns including the back breaking punt return for a touchdown that was sandwiched between two Warrick Dunn touchdown runs giving the Bucs 21 fourth quarter points. Add to those breakdowns, a fumbled punt return and many negative yardage plays on returns along with Steve Christie's missed field goal before halftime makes this the worst play by the unit since the first Jets game in September. Dunn finished with over 100 yards rushing in snapping another impressive defensive streak. The defense tired in the fourth quarter as it was missing 5 starters during the second half because of injuries. Complete Review.

Defense, Special Teams The Difference: Since the Bills outgained the Bucs so badly how could they lose? Their achilles heel, the special teams unit reared its ugly head again as the Bucs had great field position all game with good returns and broke the Bills back with punt return for a score. On defense, a valiant effort by a unit playing with almost half reserves ended when they tired in the fourth quarter. Gameday Grades.

Injuries Costly: The defense started this game without Antoine Winfield and Phil Hansen. They finished with three more starters out. Sam Cowart, Sam Rogers, and Keion Carpenter each left with leg injuries before halftime and did not return. The injuries are considered serious, Cowart has a high ankle sprain which will cost him to miss a month. Rogers tore his groin and will be out indefinitely. There will be much more on the injured Bills tomorrow afternoon and the place for a quick look at the latest news on all the injured Bills is our Injury Page.

Sunday November 26, 2000 - Pre Game

Gameday Weather: It is raining this morning in sunny Tampa Bay. Today will be mostly cloudy with chance of showers or thunderstorms with high temperatures in the lower 70s. Chance of rain is 60% with light winds.

Sapp Lights Fire: Warren Sapp has tried to fire up his team by saying the offensive gameplan is unimaginative. His statements will either fire the team up for Buffalo or divide them. We will see this afternoon.

Saturday November 25, 2000

Hansen And Morris Out: The Bills will once again be without Sammy Morris for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay. He has been made an early inactive. Also on that list is Phil Hansen. There was some hope early in the week he that he would return on Sunday but it is just too soon for his injured knee. The offensive line will definitely be without backup Joe Panos who is also inactive. The final player on the list is DaShon Polk.

Friday November 24, 2000

Injury Updates: Thanksgiving was a work day for the Bills as they held there usual Thursday practice. On the positive side, John Fina practiced quite a bit on Thursday which gives the team hope he will be able to play on Sunday. Donovan Greer felt he was about 70% as he practiced some. He hopes to feel better today and tomorrow. He probably will be a gametime decision. Joe Panos and Sammy Morris did not practice and it is looking less likely that either will play on Sunday. Injury Report.

Offensive Line Has Problems: The Bills offensive line has been a sore spot all season long. They know have been hit with injuries at the worst possible time. With the availability of John Fina and Joe Panos up in the air and Ruben Brown still hobbled by turf toe, the Bills are at a major disadvantage against the Bucs. The defensive line is the strongest part of the Buccaneers as they have 30 1/2 of the 43 sacks the team has. The main pressure comes from the inside where the healthy players are, but the outside rushers might have a field day if Fina and Panos are out and the others are concentrating on the tackles.

Phillips May Make Changes: As we speculated on Monday when we first learned that Antoine Winfield was lost for the season, Coach Phillips expects to make some changes to compensate for the injuries in the defensive secondary. While the coach wouldn't get specific, Henry Jones may see his responsibilites changed for the rest of the season. Instead of playing the tight end, he may drop back into pass coverage more often against wide receivers. This will be interesting to watch on Sunday and see who plays where and when. One thing is certain, the nickel defense will be the primary third down defense.

Thursday November 23, 2000

Winfield's Surgery Successful: Antoine Winfield underwent successful surgery on his torn muscle in his right shoulder. He is expected to make a full recovery by April's mini-camp.

Denver And Baltimore Have Inside Track: Bills fans have a lot to be thankful for on Thankgsgiving, especially a four game winning streak that has them back in the thick of the playoff picture. One thing not to be thankful for is the tough schedule that the Bills and the rest of their division counterparts have down the stretch. Baltimore and Denver have much weaker schedules giving them the inside track on two of the three wild card berths. Add to that the fact that Baltimore is ahead of the Bills and the Broncos have the tiebreakers it compounds the fact that just two of the four teams in the AFC East will probably make the playoffs. With the tiebreakers going against the Bills, the popular perception that 10 wins will make the playoffs may be wrong in the Bills case. They may need 11, which would mean going 4-1 the rest of the way. Like Coach Phillips says though, it's one game at a time starting this Sunday in Tampa Bay.

Wednesday November 22, 2000

Bills Sign Hill: As we told you earlier today the Bills cut two practice squad players to make cap room for a signing. They have now signed defensive back Ray Hill. Hill was with the Bills in 1998 and most recently with the Dolphins earlier this year. The Bills needed to sign someone since they were down to just two healthy cornerbacks. Antoine Winfield was placed on injured reserve to make room for Hill. He joins Ken Irvin and Chris Watson as the only healthy backs.

Hansen May Play: There was good news and not so good news told to the press during Wednesday's media press conferences. The surprisingly good news was that the Bills have a chance at getting Phil Hansen back this week, 1-2 weeks earlier than originally thought. He is ahead of schedule and listed as questionable. The Coach said it is possible that he will play on Sunday. On the negative front, the coach says that Sammy Morris' ankle isn't much better putting his playing status in doubt. Injury Report.

Bills Prepare For Bucs: The Bills face another huge test against the Bucaneers in Sunny Tampa Bay on Sunday. This is another game that is big for both teams but just a bit bigger for the Bills opponent. The players will arrive in snowy Ralph Wilson Stadium today to begin practicing for the game. Of course, the Bills will be without Antoine Winfield but hope to have Donovan Greer and Sammy Morris back, depending on how they practice this week. Complete Preview.

Bills Cut Two: The Bills are on the verge of signing a player to take the place of Antoine Winfield on the roster. To free up money under the salary cap the Bills cut two players from the practice squad. Recently signed WR Kevin Drake and UB alumni Drew Haddad were the players let go.

Johnson Gets Play Of Week Award: The 12 yard winning touchdown run by Rob Johnson against Kansas City won the Direct TV "Play of the Week" award for week 12.

Tuesday November 21, 2000

Cottrell Interviews: Defensive Coordinator Ted Cottrell officially interviewed for the open head coaching position at Rutgers University. Cottrell continues to contend that his main focus is a head coaching job in the NFL and not college. He did say however that this job does intrigue him as he has a history at the school. He said the interview went very well and many questions were answered.

Cottrell And Phillips Need To Adjust: With the season ending surgery scheduled for tomorrow for Antoine Winfield the Bills are dangerously thin at cornerback. On the surface, the Bills are in trouble in that area. One thing to remember however is that you can't underestimate the defensive minds of Coach Phillips and Ted Cottrell. I'm sure these two guys are working overtime this week to devise a gameplan that takes advantage of the strength of the front seven and the experience of guys like Henry Jones. Obviously, the Bills will play more nickel to keep hot linebackers Sam Rogers and Keith Newman on the field instead of an extra defensive back. But be prepared for an occasional unexpected or unusual formation or player substitutions to confuse the offenses and disguise the weak points. It will be interesting to see what these two coaches have up their sleeves but I bet it is something.

Monday November 20, 2000

Winfield's Season Over: In his weekly Monday press conference Coach Phillips confirmed that Antoine Winfield's will be out for the year and will undergo surgery on Wednesday. He said Winfield was having an outstanding year and has been and will be missed. If they get Donovan Greer back he feels they will be ok. He thinks he will be able to practice this week. The Bills are looking to fill the roster spot that will be vacated by Winfield. They don't think anybody they pick up will be able to step in and play however. The coach credited Chris Watson for being prepared despite not getting many reps or being with the team in training camp.

Injury Update: Besides Winfield and Greer, the other injuries are headlined by two offensive lineman as we mentioned on our injury page. Joe Panos and John Fina have grade 1 knee sprains. That is the mildest of knee sprains. Both players underwent MRIs today and we should know more tomorrow. Sammy Morris also underwent an MRI to check the status of his ankle sprain. The club hopes he will be able to practice this week. Other players nicked up include Keith Newman, John Holecek and Ted Washington. Washington re-aggravated his shoulder stinger and Newman and Holecek broke fingers. None of their injuries is serious. Injury Page.

More Press Conference Excerpts: The coach talked about how Eric Moulds has been on the hail mary team the whole year and is there because of his leaping ability and experience. He talked about how the team is making more and more plays and they keep fighting in every game. He keyed on plays being made by Sam Rogers, Keion Carpenter, and Marcellus Wiley. On the Johnson touchdown run he said it defined the football team, with the gritiness, toughness, and determination that came with the play.

Winfield To Have Surgery: As we speculated on our injury page earlier today, it looks like Antoine Winfield's season may be over. Winfield had a lot of trouble jamming receivers with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He has decided to probably have surgery on Wednesday that will end his season. This is a big blow for the Bills. His spot will be taken in the starting lineup by Donovan Greer if he is healthy enough to play next week. If not, Chris Watson will start.

Mohr Makes Gutsy Call: On the gutsy fake punt call, it was Chris Mohr who made the call and not Wade Phillips. Mohr has the green light to fake a punt when the opponent is setting up to block the kick. In this case the Chiefs had 10 guys on the line of scrimmage but forgot to cover the gunner, Daryl Porter. Mohr talked about the play after the game, and joked that if he missed it he would be out of a job today. Still give credit to the head coach for giving him that green light.

Injuries Mount For Bills: The bumps and bruises continue to mount for the Bills. Yesterday the offensive line was hit hard. John Fina and Joe Panos left with low level knee sprains. Ted Washington was nicked up again and Antoine Winfield wasn't able to finish the game because of his shoulder injury. John Holecek also broke his thumb. We should know more on the latest injuries later this afternoon. For the latest on the injury situation throughout the week check out our injury page.

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