After sitting on the sidelines for 2 1/2 games nursing a groin injury, a damaging spell of idleness following a period where the Bills had lost four out of five games to doom their playoff hopes, quarterback Trent Edwards was itching to salvage his season in some fashion.
Getting himself back on the field last week at Denver and playing well in a pride-saving 30-23 victory was a nice start. Now he'd like to close things out with a victory over the dreaded New England Patriots on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The game is the first for the Bills at home in 28 days. They have lost 15 of their last 16 games against the Patriots, including 10 in a row following a 20-10 loss on Nov. 9. They are trying to avert an 0-6 record against the AFC East.
But while the team will miss the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season, some small parting gifts can be earned.
A win would make the Bills 8-8, a one-game improvement after consecutive 7-9 seasons under coach Dick Jauron.
While hardly enough to appease fans -- and perhaps not owner Ralph Wilson either after a promising 5-1 start -- it would be the team's best finish since going 9-7 in 2004.
As for Edwards, he will have won in cold weather for a second week in a row.
After losing three cold-weather games to end last season, and slipping up against San Francisco this year in late November, Edwards had earned the reputation as someone who was uncomfortable and incapable of performing in bad weather.
Add to that the title of "brittle" due to his injuries, and it's not a good thing for a player Buffalo hopes to move forward with.
But Edwards stood tall against Denver, taking several big shots in the first quarter, and then played a splendid fourth quarter to rally his team to victory in a game played in the teens.
"He's a very tough guy, a very resilient guy," Jauron said. "He takes some hits, he stands in there and does what he has to do to help the team win. It was good to have him back."
Sitting for 2 1/2 games left Edwards with ring rust. But he rallied his team from 13 points down with some accurate throws and wound up 17 of 25 for 193 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers. He's the first Bills quarterback to register four fourth-quarter rallies in one season. Daryle Lamonica, Joe Ferguson and Jim Kelly never had more than three in a single year.
"That's the hardest thing as a quarterback," Edwards said. "If you haven't played week to week, you haven't seen pressure packages and you haven't seen live action in a long time. It's tough to get back into the swing of things. You can go through practice, you can get a scout team look all week. But it's a lot different when you're on the road, and you've got a 25-second clock and you're in a third-and-long situation. So early on in the game, yes, I was a little bit rusty."
Hey, he's from California and will probably never grow accustomed to living and playing in a cold climate. But he proved he can do it; that the mind is a powerful thing.
It didn't hurt either that Jauron finally had his team practice outside for the first time in a month in preparing for the trip to Denver.
"It's cold, and things aren't going that well. But we came back. We fought hard. We can play in this cold weather and we're probably going to get it again (this week)," Edwards said.
He can bet on it.
As for shaking his injury-prone tag, Edwards can only heal and play and pray he doesn't go down again. He's battled wrist, head and groin issues in his two seasons so far and missed numerous starts.
"There are not a lot of quarterbacks that play the whole season. With him getting hurt the first two years, I don't know," said offensive coordinator Turk Schonert.
"He got a lot stronger, he has got another offseason to go through and get even stronger. I just think it is too early to tell to say if somebody is injury-prone or not. It's a violent, physical game. It's a fast game. There are little tweaks and all that that you have to get through. A groin injury, I don't think he has ever had it before, so it is something new."
Quipped the former NFL quarterback: "I wasn't fast enough to have a groin-injury, so I don't know about those things."
SERIES HISTORY: 97th regular-season meeting, Patriots lead 55-40-1. New England has won 10 consecutive games in the series. The last Bills' win was 31-0 to open the 2003 season at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Courtesy of The Sports Xchange.