If Perry Fewell hopes to remain in contention for Buffalo's head coaching job beyond 2009, the Bills are going to have to take some major strides. His first game looked an awful lot like many of the games the Bills lost under his predecessor, Dick Jauron.
Against a Jacksonville team that clearly is not a juggernaut, the Bills could not hold onto a 15-10 fourth-quarter lead and allowed David Garrard to direct a game-winning 68-yard touchdown drive in the final six minutes.
"It's been an emotional week for us, and this was an emotional loss for us," Fewell said. "It wasn't about me, it was about us; we wanted to win for each other. I thought our guys fought their hind ends off, they battled down to the wire, but we just didn't get it done."
Same old story for the Bills. They have now lost five games this season when they were either ahead or tied heading into the fourth quarter. This time, they couldn't pull out a victory despite a 297-yard passing performance by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and a 197-yard receiving day by Terrell Owens.
"It just hurts, period," linebacker Bryan Scott said when asked if there was added disappointment in not being able to deliver a victory for Fewell in his first game as a head coach at any level. "It's kind of the same old, sad love song. We get to the fourth quarter, and we can't pull it out. We got there, but we gave up that touchdown in the end, so it stings all around."
The Bills host Miami in a game that means plenty to the rival Dolphins who have bounced back from an 0-3 start to get into the playoff race at 5-5. Fitzpatrick has earned the right to continue to start, and he seems to have found a connection with Owens, something Trent Edwards never managed. If they can keep that going, the Bills will have a chance against the Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
It looks as if Fred Jackson might return to the role of sole running back because Marshawn Lynch may be sidelined with a shoulder injury. The Bills' running game was at its best early in the season when Jackson was getting all the touches while Lynch was serving his three-game NFL suspension.
Jackson will have to run behind an offensive line that lost two more players to injury -- guards Eric Wood and Seth McKinney. The Bills will be starting their eighth different offensive line combination against Miami.
LINEUP WATCH: The endless fluctuation on the offensive line continued as the Bills lost two more players to injury. Right guard Eric Wood, the rookie first-round draft pick who along with center Geoff Hangartner were the only two linemen to play in all 10 games, suffered a broken tibia and fibula in his left leg and is out for the year. Meanwhile, backup guard Seth McKinney, who was pressed into starting duty against Jacksonville, went down with a knee injury. The Bills thus finished the 18-15 loss with no offensive line reserves.
The Bills have three inexperienced linemen on their practice squad -- Christian Gaddis, Nick Hennessey and Andre Ramsey -- and they may have to elevate two of them to the 53-man roster, or they may have to go out and bring in a free agent veteran.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- The Bills have now lost five games in which they have either led, or been tied, going into the fourth quarter.
--RG Eric Wood suffered a broken tibia and fibula in his left leg Sunday and underwent surgery in Jacksonville. He's out for the season.
--LG Seth McKinney went out with a knee injury in the third quarter and his status is undetermined.
--WR Terrell Owens enjoyed his best day as a Bill with nine catches for 197 yards, including a team-record 98-yard touchdown reception.
--RB Marshawn Lynch gained only 18 yards on eight carries and lost a fumble before suffering a shoulder injury.
--LB Paul Posluszny was in on 12 tackles and forced a fumble.-------------------------------------------------
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