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Bills Lose Heartbreaker In Opener

AP Photo - JP Losman Passing Grades In Loss: The Bills have lost their season opener as expected but they battled their way to a nice lead before collapsing down the stretch. It was still a good showing by the Bills despite the loss and therefore the position by position grades will be better than usual for a loss. Gameday Grades.

Fletcher Shines Despite Orchestrating 4 Rookies: The Bills Daily player of the game is London Fletcher. He not only dominated the game but he also called all the plays and made sure the rookies that were in the game knew where to go. At times the Bills had four rookies in the game on defense as Donte Whitner, Keith Ellison, Ko Simpson, and Kyle Williams were in the game at the same time. Simpson and Ellison were in the game for injured Troy Vincent and Takeo Spikes while Whitner played a lot for Coy Wire who was in the game for the injured Matt Bowen. Game Review.

Spikes Says He's Ok: Takeo Spikes said he has a minor hamstring injury but will be ok next week. Injury Page.

Team Didn't Finish: Dick Jauron said he made the decision to go for the fourth down play was made earlier on. He felt they did things well but weren't consistent enough to beat a quality football team. He said going for it would have helped them get a 24-7 win but hindsight makes him wish he went for the field goal but thinks he will go for it again down the line. He did think his team played hard but made critical errors including the Nate Clements penalty on the Donte Whitner interception return that may have went for a score if it wasn't blown dead and the Robert Royal illegal block in the back penalty that negated a first down. He felt they played alright but broke down at the wrong moments. The injury to Takeo Spikes early in the game hurt along with the injury to Troy Vincent. He feels the Patriots are a good football team that has two good backs who ran very well against them today. They will study the tapes and get better. He feels the Patriots are just a better team at this point. On the safety he would have hoped J.P. Losman would have gotten rid of the ball but he has done a terrific job up until this point. He thought he played a strong game but did make a mistake there, and they expect that with a young QB.

Losman Glad They Called 4th Down Play: J.P. Losman said he didn't see the second guy when he was sacked for the safety. He thought the team played well but they need to get over the hump they have on the road. He knew New England would not just lay down in the 2nd half since they are the champs. He figured the 4th down run may have been the turning point but he was glad they went for it, he liked the attitude. He was glad the coach showed the confidence in the team to call it, next time they will make it. To get better he knows the team needs to win these games. He pointed to two big penalties that cost the team late in the game.

Bills Lose Close One 19-17: The Bills came to play and dominated the first half but a stopped fourth down play near the goal line as the Bills could have taken a more than two touchdown lead turned the momentum around and set the Patriots up for a comeback 19-17 win over the Bills. The Bills scored on the first play from scrimmage on a London Fletcher fumble return for a score. Anthony Thomas also scored from 18 yards out to give the Bills a 17-7 halftime lead. The momentum shifted when the Bills got stopped on fourth and one at the Patriots 6 in the third quarter. The Pats went on two score on their next two possessions and win the game thanks to a safety midway through the fourth quarter. Check back later for our complete review on our gameday homepage.

Spikes Hurts Hamstring: Takeo Spikes made his presence felt on the opening play when he forced a fumble that resulted in a touchdown. Unfortunately, his day ended early when he hurt a hamstring on the Patriots next possession. Troy Vincent came out in the first half with a hamstring injury as well. Willis McGahee came off hobbling with an ankle problem but would return. Terrence McGee was shaken up for a play but would return quickly. Injury Page.

Gameday Inactives: The following players are inactive for the Bills today, as expected Matt Bowen is one of them because of his lower leg injury. The other six inactives are all healthy, they are: Shaud Williams, Ashton Youboty, Brad Butler, Aaron Merz, John DiGiorgio and Eric Powell. A couple of surprises here, Powell being inactive leaves the team with just three defensive ends active and five outside linebackers. The other surprise is seventh round draft pick Terrence Pennington is active over the fifth round pick Butler. Depth Chart.

Bruschi Will Not Play: Among the Patriots inactives are LB Tedy Bruschi and starting RT Nick Kaczur. It was though that Bruschi would play but he can't go with his wrist injury.

Wire To Start: Coy Wire is the starter for the Bills today at strong safety. Donte Whitner should see a lot of playing time as well. Matt Bowen will not play because of his lower leg injury. Kyle Williams is expected to start at defensive tackle but Tim Anderson is expected to see a lot of playing time though.

Gameday Weather: It should be a picture perfect day for football today when the Bills battle the Patriots in Foxboro, Mass. The gametime temperature should be a fall like 67°. It will be partly cloudy, low humidity, and winds out of the North Northeast at 11mph. There is only a 20% chance of rain.

Smith Waiving Suspicious: The Patriots have released Jonathan Smith just five days after signing the former Bill. He was replaced on the active roster by WR Brandon Childress. He had been cut by the Patriots and added to the practice squad. They then release a player they just signed and put Childress back on the active roster? It sounds like Belichick was nervous about his lack of knowledge about the Bills and was using Smith for inside info on the team.

Saturday September 9, 2006

Smith Has No Trade Secrets: Jonathan Smith told the Boston media that he wont' be able to help his new team out with inside information on his old team the Bills. He figures the Bills will switch some stuff up knowing he is now a Patriot. He said he doesn't know where he fits in to the team for tomorrow's game but he will help out wherever he can. He was surprised to be picked up by another AFC East team.

Friday September 8, 2006

Bowen Misses Practice Again: Matt Bowen missed practice for a third straight day today. He remains listed as questionable but it appears he will remain out for the opener. It is unknown if Coy Wire or Donte Whitner would get the start but both are expected to see considerable time against the Patriots. Dick Jauron said today the starter will be a gametime decision. Injury Report.

Bowen Remains Out: Matt Bowen did not practice again yesterday as he continues to suffer from a bad lower leg bruise. He practiced a bit on Monday but did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. He injured his leg in the first preseason game. He remains listed as questionable for this week's game. Injury Report.

Thursday September 7, 2006

Holcomb No. 2: Dick Jauron announced today that Kelly Holcomb will be the number two quarterback this week when the Bills take on the Patriots. He said he feels comfortable with Holcomb and thought he played well in the last two preseason games. The fact that he has a lot more experience than Craig Nall also factored into the decision. He said they will work it this way for a while and see where it goes.

Bills Tickets The Cheapest: According to the Bills' team marketing report the team has the cheapest tickets in the NFL for the upcoming season. Bills tickets average $41.29 each. The average NFL ticket costs $62.38. The highest average ticket price is in New England where it is $90.89. 21 teams raised tickets prices this year only San Francisco went down.

Wednesday September 6, 2006

Losman Calmer This Year: J.P. Losman spoke to the media today after practice, and said this opening day is a lot different than last year since he knows what to expect. He can't get caught up in it and get excited he needs to be calmer about it and slow it down. He says he's used to the system and when they call plays they are called with a purpose. He thinks they have a good playbook going into this game and the team is really focused on the game. They will look to play smarter, sharper, and harder than the Patriots in order to beat them. He says he's extremely comfortable with both starting wide receivers Lee Evans and Peerless Price. The hardest part for him will be getting both of them the ball enough to keep them happy.

No Backup QB Yet: Dick Jauron talked to the local media today and said he has yet to make a final decision on who is backup quarterback will be. He may be trying to keep the Patriots guessing or he may have not made up his mind. Both backups performed well in the preseason finale. He said he will be addressing the backup QB spot really soon. If snap count is any indication, Kelly Holcomb took more snaps than Craig Nall today. In other roster news, Peerless Price has been named the starter at wide receiver over Josh Reed. Jauron said that Price has played fast and has worked really hard. Depth Chart.

Bowen On Report: Matt Bowen is the lone member of the Bills on the injury report. He is listed as questionable with his lower leg injury. He returned to practice on Sunday after missing three weeks. The Patriots have six players on the report including QB Tom Brady who is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury. There is little doubt however that he will be ready to go in the opener. Injury Report.

Youboty Returns: After missing three weeks because of the death of his mother, Ashton Youboty returned to the Bills and was on the practice field today. He said it has been very hard and he has had to look after his younger siblings. His Mother died of cancer at the age of 47. Youboty is not in game shape and will likely be inactive for the opener.

Jauron Talks To NE Media: Dick Jauron talked to the New England media via a conference call this afternoon. Jauron said the team will get test where they are against one of the best team's in the league. He said J.P. Losman deserved the job but he's not a finished product. He is working very hard to get there but he knows they will have to live with some mistakes. He feels the offensive side of the ball is more of a hybrid system of a lot of different systems. Jauron knows they need to run well each and every week if they are going to win. He acknowledged that Willis McGahee has lost weight and believes he's faster. He is counting on McGahee in the passing game as well as the running game and they expect to keep him on the field a great deal of the time.

Belichick On The Bills: Bill Belichick spoke to the press today as part of media day. He thinks the Bills remain stocked with a lot of outstanding players and are very explosive offensively as the skill positions. On defense, he feels it is a very good secondary with good tacklers and a productive linebacking group that runs and blitzes well. He knows the special teams are as good as any in the league. He calls the Bills a good, strong football team across the board with a lot of guys that can score from anywhere on the field. He knows his team has a lot to get ready for. He thinks the Bills corners are among the best in the league.

Media Day: Wednesday is media day in the NFL season. The press will speak to the coaches and key players from both teams in preparation for Sunday's game. The Bills are back at work with a midday practice today after having the usual Tuesday off. Check back later for our official NFL injury report and comments from Head Coach Dick Jauron.

Tuesday September 5, 2006

Bills Fill Out Practice Squad: The Bills finished off their eight man practice squad with the addition of offensive lineman Robin Meadow. He's a versatile lineman who has played every position but center along the line. He spent the preseason on the Ravens roster before being cut. The Bills feel his style of play is better suited on the inside of the line. They only have one backup guard on the roster now.

Bills Face Tough Test: The Bills face perhaps their toughest test of the season on opening day. A trip to New England to face the Patriots. Look for the Bills to make some big plays but they also will likely make some big mistakes which will likely cost them a chance at this game. That will probably be their identity early in the season as the team begins to gel. Look for a closer game then most people think but not enough to win. Check out our game preview on our newly re-launched gameday homepage. This will be the place to go once again all season long for your game previews, reviews, and links to our grades and other statistical information along with tidbits and nuggets on the right side of the page. Game Preview.

Monday September 4, 2006

Bills Add Practice Squad Player: The Bills added a second tight end to the practice squad with the addition of C.J. Leak. He is somewhat of a project who was working the administrative offices of the University of Florida. He was a former quarterback and Safety at the University of Tennessee. The team worked him out twice and locked his athletic ability so they thought the he was worth a shot on the practice squad. The team still has one open spot on the development squad that they hope to fill by Wednesday.

Bowen Returns To Practice: Matt Bowen returned to practice yesterday to get set for the regular season. He missed three weeks with his lower leg bone bruise. Ashton Youboty is expected back either today or tomorrow from his bereavement leave after the death of his mother. As we reported yesterday, he was the only one missing from the practice field yesterday. Injury Page.

Smith Goes To Patriots: Several former Bills have found homes with other teams. The biggest of interest was the Patriots signing of WR Jonathan Smith. They need help at WR with the contract holdout of Deion Branch. He may be able to help them out with some inside information on the Bills as well as they get set for their matchup on Sunday. Other comings and goings include Rashad Baker signing with the Vikings. Eric King ended up in Tennessee as did Justin Geisinger but he was put on their practice squad. Martin Nance signed to the Vikings practice squad. Do you think the Smith signing will haunt the Bills? Take our poll on our homepage to let us know.

Position Battle Outcomes: The Bills are now in their regular season mode but their are still some unanswered questions at certain positions. Dick Jauron said he isn't ready to decide who will be the number two quarterback. Other positions that aren't known yet is who will start at left defensive end and who will be the number two wide receiver. Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney had a fierce battle all camp and both are expected to play plenty in the rotation the question is who will start? The number two receiver battle between Josh Reed and Peerless Price is very competitive as well. Jauron said he likes the receivers as a group and they are comfortable with either one. They will both play in three receiver sets. Depth Chart.

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