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Bills Season Ends With Home Loss To Backups

AP Photo - Tommy Maddox Bledsoe Angry: Drew Bledsoe felt there were penalties in this game that hurt them and set them back especially the offensive pass interference call against Josh Reed that took them out of a first and goal situation with a one point lead in the third quarter. He is angry that they didn't play better than they did. The bottom line he thinks is if they couldn't beat them with their backups in their, than they don't deserve to be in the playoffs. They played well at times but they just needed to not make the mistakes they did that took them out of scoring situations, the QB didn't think the team was tight however. Bledsoe said he's in a little bit of shock because he didn't anticipate not making the playoffs.

Turnovers Hurt: Mike Mularkey called it a combination of a lot of things caused the Bills to lose. He said turnovers were a part of it since they turned the ball over deep in their territory. He gave the Steelers credit for making the big plays as they executed much better and the Bills were not efficient. He felt the hole they dug in this game was what killed them, the magnitude of this game was the same of the last six weeks. The coach felt in didn't matter that they played against backups, that has been the situation on many occasions over the year. He felt the Steeler backups are NFL players and they are effective, they wore down the Bills. He told the team not to let this one game make them lose sight of what they have accomplished despite of the fact they won't here that the next few days from outside sources.

Loss Team Effort: Like we've been saying about the six game winning streak. It was a total team effort. This time it was on the losing end of the game. The offense struggled mightily against a bunch of reserves that won't even sniff the field in the playoffs for Pittsburgh. The defense allowed the fourth string running back to knife through them like he was an all pro. Special teams were caused for a lot of stupid penalties that cost them field position. A total team loss. Gameday Grades.

Villarial Leaves Loss: Chris Villarial started despite his rib/abdomen injury. He would leave the game in the second quarter after aggravating it. Mike Pucillo replaced him. No other Bills were injured although Willis McGahee was banged up for a play. Injury Report.

Bills Season Ends: The Bills needed a win and help to make the playoffs, they forgot to do the first part. Against a bunch of backups in the fourth quarter the Bills gave up 10 straight points and fell to the third string version of the Steelers 29-24 to finish the season 9-7. Drew Bledsoe threw an interception and had a fumble returned for a touchdown as the offense struggled until the final minutes. Nate Clements fumbled a punt that resulted in a field goal, but forced a fumble and returned an interception for a touchdown in the loss. The Steelers pulled off the victory behind their third string quarterback for most of the second half. We will have our complete coverage in a little bit. Complete Review.

Rainy Weather: As you would expect for a January game in Western New York, weather will be a factor. It will be warmer than you would expect however. Gametime temperature will be around 44° with the temperature rising into the upper 40s during the game. It will be rainy, with some patches of freezing rain as well. There is an 80% chance of precipitation with winds out of the south at 21mph Could help make this game a defensive struggle.

Saturday January 1, 2005

Moulds Encourages Colts: Eric Moulds put in a call to his buddy Marvin Harrison and asked him to give it his all on Sunday against Denver despite the fact the game means nothing for the third seed Colts. Harrison told him that the starters are only supposed to play a quarter but he would talk to Dungy. Peyton Manning has been quoted as saying he wants to win this week and does want to play more.

Friday December 31, 2004

Villarial Practices: Chris Villarial practiced today and should play on Sunday. Travis Henry and Jason Peters were held out again and will likely not play. Troy Vincent was back on the field today after missing yesterday to attend the funeral of Reggie White. Injury Report.

Thursday December 30, 2004

Villarial Expects To Play: Chris Villarial said today that he expects to play on Sunday despite a rib injury. He wouldn't divulge the extent of the injury and did not practice today. He did do some stretching exercises and road the stationary bike. Injury Report.

Merchandise Hot: Fandemonium has hit a fever pitch as Bills merchandise is flying off the shelves and online. The Bills have released a new t-shirt and hat with the word "Billieve" on it. Sales are very good as fans have caught the mania of the mad playoff push. The new shirt and hat are only available at the Bills store or their online shop at the official website.

Wednesday December 29, 2004

Game Will Be Exciting: Drew Bledsoe addressed the press on media day as the team prepares for Sunday's huge game against Pittsburgh. He admits its an exciting game but their preparation will be the same. He knows the stadium will be loud and it feels good to reward the great fans with a big game like this at home. He feels that the team has always believed and stuck to their guns to dig themselves out of the huge hole at the beginning of the season. He hasn't thought about the possibility of winning but still not getting into the playoffs. He keeps a positive outlook and won't think of those things. The team will not let the familiarity of the two teams cause a distraction. They plan to focus on the game at hand and Bledsoe looks forward to giving Coach Mularkey the gameball if they win. He called the Steelers defense the most impressive defense they saw on film all year and it will be a tremendous challenge for the offense. The QB knows the Bills need help because of what they did at the beginning of the year and he won't be mad if the teams that they need help from benches their regulars because the Bills created the situation where they don't control their own destiny.

Three Are Questionable: Chris Villarial, Jason Peters, and Travis Henry are all questionable. Peters was the only one to practice at all today, he practiced sparingly. All three are considered day to day. Injury Report.

Pittsburgh Will Be Ready: Coach Mularkey said that when he was in Pittsburgh they did substitute players when the game meant nothing but that was way back in 2001. Mularkey did say regardless of the situation, he has no doubt that Bill Cowher will have his team prepared. The coach said this game feels like just any other opponent but emotions may come into play later in the week. He admitted you couldn't have scripted it better having the Steelers in a game that may mean the playoffs for the Bills. He praised Drew Bledsoe for managing games well and doing an excellent job in the no huddle offense. That allowed them to stay in it longer than they expected. The coach said the offenses are similar and the terminology is familiar since he brought the scheme from Pittsburgh. There are some things that both sides have tweaked since he left.

Van Pelt To Pitt? A couple of weeks ago Alex Van Pelt said he's interested in coaching at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh. Now that Dave Wannstedt has taken the job, he has been contacted by Van Pelt about filling a spot on his coaching staff. Van Pelt has always been pegged as a future coach and even though he has enjoyed being in the radio booth for the Bills he wants to get into coaching. He left a message for Wannstedt but has not heard back from him yet.

Biggest Game In Years: Just when you thought the Bills-Steelers game this weekend couldn't have any more intrigue it does. Not only is this a reunion between many coaches and front office people but it a Bills win could put them in the playoffs. Coach Bill Cowher would love to keep them out but not at the expense of his team's Super Bowl dreams. The Steelers plan to play to win but not at all costs. Many banged up players will most likely be held out including Ben Roethlisberger and Jerome Bettis. Complete Preview.

Tuesday December 28, 2004

Dungy To Go All Out: Colts coach Tony Dungy has learned from his mistakes. With Tampa Bay he failed to go all out in the final game of the season when they were locked in a playoff position and lost in the first round. The Colts had the same thing happen to them in 1999 when a Rob Johnson led Bills team beat them when they didn't go all out. He has learned from history and will go with his starters in a meaningless game in Denver. This obviously is good news for the Bills who need either Denver or the Jets to lose. More good news, the Rams victory last night means they are still playing for a shot at the playoffs when the Jets come to town on Sunday. The Bills now need to take care of their own business against a Steelers team that will rest many banged up players.

Steelers To Limit Play: Reports say that it is highly unlikely that Ben Roethlisberger will play on Sunday against the Bills meaning Tommy Maddox will get the start. Coach Mularkey and Tom Clements are very familiar with Maddox since they resurected his career in Pittsburgh. The Bus, Jerome Bettis also will likely be held out along with WR Plaxico Burress as they rest the banged up players for the playoffs. Duce Staley is expected to see limited action at running back. Injury Report.

Connections Many: You couldn't have written a better script in Hollywood. The Bills magical ride towards an improbable playoff berth has one big obstacle in the way. That is the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team with the best record in football, the team where Mike Mularkey, Tom Clemens, Tom Donahoe, and Tom Modrak all came from. The playoff possibilities overshadow the reunion but it does add another dimension to a game that is well anticipated. Mularkey and Donahoe have downplayed the importance of facing their former team instead concentrating on focusing on the task at hand. As the week progresses it will only get tougher. The Bills must focus however, because they can't worry about Denver or the Jets, they have to worry about beating the best team in football first.

Monday December 27, 2004

Playoffs Still A Foreign Word: Coach Mularkey addressed the media like he always does the day after the game. The injury update on Chris Villarial is a rib injury but he expects him to be ok after a couple of days off. The coach feels Lee Evans and Eric Moulds make a dynamic duo. He said Evans has learned quicker than most rookies and gets better and better each week. The coach still won't talk about the playoffs since they still have work to do and if they do that work good things will come. He said it may be some sort of superstition not talking about it. He harped that they have to win if they have a chance to get in.

Bills, Steelers Soldout: The Big game Sunday against the Steelers is officially a sellout the team announced today. It is the 7th sellout in 8 home games this year. The TV blackout is lifted three days before the deadline.

Good Nuggets In Win: The Bills did a lot of good things in their 41-7 rout of San Francisco yesterday. They had season highs in points, first downs, rushing yards, and total yards. They tied an NFL record for takeaways in a six game period. Lee Evans, Eric Moulds and Willis McGahee all hit personal milestones. Our gameday homepage has all the nuggets on the right side. Gameday Homepage.

Villarial Only Injury: Chris Villarial did suffer an abdomen injury in the game, his status will be updated on Wednesday as the players have today and tomorrow off. Injury Report.

Mularkey Keeping Team Focused: Coach Mike Mularkey said he did not know that the Jets, Jaguars, and Ravens lost. He had shut off all the TVs in the locker room because it did not matter unless they had won and that is all they could control. He felt the team did a nice job of the no huddle again. He thought it was a very crisp game and they need to keep playing that way. The no huddle works because of crisp execution and good conditioning of the players on offense. The coach was worried about how Willis McGahee's knee would handle the long flight. He said he was good to go and there was no looking back, he was the guy. The coach tried to downplay playing against the former team of Tom Clements, Tom Donahoe, and himself. He refuses to let the focus change at all from what it has been to this point. Mularkey still refused to say the word playoffs but admitted this is what they have worked so hard for, to get to this point regardless who the opponent is. He also downplayed that the Steelers won't try to win because they have everything wrapped up. He said knowing how they run things in Pittsburgh they will show up to play.

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