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Buffalo Bills News - December 30, 2004

Marker Villarrial Misses Practice [4:53 AM]
WGR-AM reports: 'He missed Wednesday's practice with a sore abdomen. Travis Henry is listed as questionable, but he lightly jogged on his own. Jason Peters did practice sparingly and is questionable with a sore hamstring.'

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December 29, 2004

Marker First Round Picks Shine in Rookie Season [9:31 PM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: If the early results are any indication, the two teams set to battle in Orchard Park this weekend may have actually benefited the most from their prized top picks. After Manning and Rivers were quickly off the board, Miami (Ohio) quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 11th overall pick in the draft. Just two selections later, Wisconsin receiver Lee Evans became the fourth receiver taken overall in the draft by the Buffalo Bills.

Marker Season On The Line Sunday [9:29 PM]
RNews.com reports: '“We realize this is a big game, but at the same time the last five, six games have been big games for us so we know exactly what to expect, we just got to go out and play,” wide receiver Eric Moulds explained.'

Marker Mularkey facing former team with playoffs on the line [9:27 PM]
AP reports: '``The most important thing when you are going through that kind of period is the guy standing in front of the team needs to remain a pillar,'' Wyche said. ``He can't be blowing in the wind, and he didn't. ... He kept our eye on the ball. He was like a veteran coach.'''

Marker Despite 13-game winning streak, Roethlisberger all but certain to rest [5:10 PM]
AP reports: 'Roethlisberger sat out the Steelers' practice Wednesday with bruised rib cartilage and, while he hasn't been officially ruled out, the rookie quarterback will do little more Sunday than stand along the sidelines wearing a white ski cap.'

Marker Buffalo Bills Conference Calls [2:55 PM]
Steelers.com reports: Q: (To Mike Mularkey): What was the talk around town during the losing streak at the beginning of the season, and also the talk in the locker room and among your coaches? I hear that there was no panic setting in, at least among the organization.
A: I don’t know what the talk was around town because I literally have not even seen my house in the daylight, let alone know what is going on around town. I don’t know good or bad. There was no panic button. The biggest chore that I had was to try to make these guys understand not to be influenced by outside sources. That it is easy to do because they are in it a lot more, the environment with the fans, media, they are the ones that are trying to influence you to say you are good or bad. They had to believe what was going on in this building and they never lost sight of that. That is a credit to them.'

Marker 'Throwaway' games could slow momentum [1:40 PM]
ESPN reports: 'So there is definitely something to be said for momentum. And that clearly makes teams such as Buffalo, Carolina and New Orleans dangerous first-round playoff foes. None of the three might even qualify for the 2004 playoff pool, since each needs a win on Sunday, coupled with some outside assistance. Teams that have already received their postseason invitations, though, don't want to see the Bills, Saints or Panthers on their opening-round dance cards, that's for sure.'

Marker Offense keeps Bills in high gear [8:51 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Anybody have any questions after watching the last six games?'

Marker Bills vs. Steelers Preview [6:04 AM]
BillsDaily.com reports: You couldn't have scripted a better story in Hollywood. The Bills end the regular season at home against the Steelers in a game filled with possibilities and a reunion of many coaches and front office people. It's there for the taking, the Bills have won six straight and a win against the best team in the league will give the Bills a shot at the playoffs if the Jets or Broncos lose. Mike Mularkey, Tom Clements, Tom Donahoe, and Tom Modrak will be renewing acquaintances.

Marker Van Pelt contacts Wannstedt about possible job [5:02 AM]
Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports: 'Former Pitt quarterback Alex Van Pelt has enjoyed working as a color analyst on Buffalo Bills radio broadcasts, but he has a coaching itch he said needs scratching.'

Marker Wednesday's Pittsburgh Coverage [5:01 AM]
TwoBillsDrive.com reports:
Cowher: Approach is same as it always is (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
Scott may replace Townsend (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
Steelers fans can rock to this band's fight song (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
Roethlisberger won't play Sunday (Pittsburgh Tribune Review)
Van Pelt contacts Wannstedt about possible job (Pittsburgh Tribune Review)
Cowher not interested in getting Bettis to 1,000 yards (Pittsburgh Tribune Review)
Steelers salute man's charitable work (Beaver County Times)
Steelers will have new faces in lineup (Washington Observer Reporter)
With or without Big Ben, Cowher taking game seriously (McKeesport Daily News)
Roethlisberger questionable for Sunday's regular-season finale (AP)
Roethlisberger questionable for regular-season finale (The Sports Network)
Head Coach Bill Cowher's Press Conference (Steelers.com)
Vote for Ben for Rookie of the Week (Steelers.com)
Steelers Pre-Game Notes (Steelers.com)
Bills Pre-Game Notes (Steelers.com)

Marker Baker gives Bills a boost [5:00 AM]
Cherry Hill Courier Post reports: 'Undrafted rookie safety Rashad Baker came off the bench Sunday as the Bills rolled to a 41-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers - Buffalo's sixth straight win and eighth in the last nine games. Baker, a Woodrow Wilson High School graduate, had one assisted tackle and one pass deflection on defense. The University of Tennessee product also contributed an assisted tackle on special teams.'

Marker Offense rages, but soaring Bills riding Gray's ball-hawks [4:59 AM]
CBS Sportsline reports: 'What Jerry Gray and his players are doing is special. My only question is: When do we start to acknowledge it?'

December 28, 2004

Marker Rookie WR Evans catching on with surging Bills [10:03 PM]
AP reports: '''At certain times you just feel like it's just you, and everything's against you,'' Evans said. ''It's certainly been a 180-degree turn.'''

Marker Steelers-Bills game offers compelling story lines [5:05 PM]
East Valley Tribune reports: 'In September, Buffalo was 0-4, and playoff chatter would have elicited a one-word response that is the same as its coach’s last name. After six wins in a row, however, it has become the team no one wants to play.'

Marker Teams Earn the Right to Rest Players [5:03 PM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: 'I don't think the NFL should take any action to make teams play their starters in what are usually meaningless games. If you're good enough to wrap things up early on, then you should have the luxury of doing what you believe is best for your team.'

Marker Roethlisberger questionable for Sunday's regular-season finale [4:22 PM]
AP reports: 'Cowher said his plans for the game would not change even if another playoff berth were not dependent on the outcome. ``This is not about what we owe anybody. It's what we owe ourselves. This is how you play the game,'' he said. ``We've got to play the game the way we know how to play the game. Those aren't things you can turn on and off, and if you think you can turn it on and off you're going to be mistaken and be led down a road that's going to be very disappointing.'''

Marker Head Coach Bill Cowher's Press Conference [3:17 PM]
Steelers.com reports: 'Let me just say this in regard to this football game, certainly we are looking at the playoffs and we will certainly keep that in mind as it relates to the health of our players. But we are not going to approach this game any differently than we have approached the other 15 games. I am a firm believer that you are who you are. We are a football team that we when we step on that field, we are going to play our way. It is for no other reason than that. I think the last thing you can do is try to go into any football game and diminish the importance of it. Certainly, you are going to keep the big picture in mind, but we are going to go out there, and we are preparing this week as we always have to go up there and win this football game. It is going to be a big challenge for us because certainly Buffalo, with all the things that they have at stake, they are the winners of six games in a row, eight of the last nine games, they are a very formidable opponent and they can be an opponent that we see somewhere else down the line. We are not going to diminish that. We will get our week off. This to me is a little bit different that if we were playing in six or seven days. If you are playing that first week, then maybe you would approach it differently. But I look at the fact that we have a bye week. We are going to get our time off. We have to go up and play football. That is what we are planning on doing.'

Marker Roethlisberger questionable for regular-season finale [3:16 PM]
The Sports Network reports: 'Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher announced at his Tuesday press conference that rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is questionable for Sunday's regular-season finale against Buffalo because of bruised rib cartilage.'

Marker Cousineau stayed close to home [3:16 PM]
ClevelandBrowns.com reports: '“We waited down in the hotel lobby for them, but they never showed up. They didn’t even call,” Cousineau said. “I didn’t need to have my rear end kissed by the Bills, but the way they treated me was about as rude as it gets. For whatever reason, the Bills were playing hardball with me right out of the gate. Barber had played with the Bills, and I found out later that he didn’t treat any players very well. This was at a time when a lot of players were leaving Buffalo.”'

Marker Tuesday's San Francisco Coverage [1:55 PM]
TwoBillsDrive.com reports:
49ers report card (Contra Costa Times)
Fans not in mood to appreciate (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
49ers report card (Oakland Tribune)
Strategy and personnel (CBS Sportsline)

Marker Bills Peaking at the Right Time [12:41 PM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: '"We always knew what we could do as a unit," said left tackle Jonas Jennings. "We hit every bump in the road that we could hit during the first four weeks. It was only a matter of time for things to start going our way and we started believing in each other during that time. We've got a little swagger and confidence now and that's how we go out and play."'

Marker Flashback: Levy Wins Bills Debut [12:40 PM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: '"I knew the names of the players in the room, but when I walked in, I couldn’t have pointed out Jim Kelly or Bruce Smith or any of those guys," joked Levy. "I said, ‘What it takes to win is simple, but it isn’t easy. Run, throw, block, tackle, catch, kick better than your opponent. We’re not going to do it with a bunch of X’s and O’s. We’re not going to do it with a bunch of talk. We’re going to go to work on fundamentals.’ And I did point out to them, ‘I’m going to ask three questions for you to answer. I know mine. Where are we now? Where do we want to go? How are we going to get there?’"'

Marker Implausible stretch creates excitement [8:51 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'So here we are. Six weeks after being left for dead in Foxboro, the Bills will host the 14-1 Steelers next Sunday with their playoff hopes very much alive. The bandwagon is overflowing, taking on passengers at a dizzying rate. That's me hanging on at the rear, still properly skeptical but grateful for an exhilarating ride.'

Marker Bills show resolve of steel [8:50 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"Really, it's tough to comment on Pittsburgh right now until I get some tape on them and get a better feel for their personnel and their schemes," Mularkey deadpanned. "No, I think all of us were enjoying the moment when it was happening (over the 49ers). You don't get chances to be in that situation and let the younger guys get a chance to play. I was enjoying watching them play. I'll leave it at that."'

Marker Tuesday's Pittsburgh Coverage [7:20 AM]
TwoBillsDrive.com reports:
Roethlisberger's rib injury not serious, but record run will come to end vs. Bills (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
Steelers hope 'road' paved in black, gold (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
Forever focused (Pittsburgh Tribune Review)
Farrior, not Lewis, is praised (Beaver County Times)
Steelers use injuries as motivation to win, not excuse for losing (AP)
Steelers win despite injury to Big Ben (The Sports Network)
Inside slant (CBS Sportsline)
Strategy and personnel (CBS Sportsline)
Notes, quotes (CBS Sportsline)
Burress happy to be back (Steelers.com)

Marker A Bills offensive weapon returns [5:01 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: '"It has been a kind of spark for us in a number of games," said Bledsoe, who looked comfortable running the hurry-up as he completed 21 of 32 passes for 172 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and only one sack, which came when he scrambled out of the pocket and was dropped one yard behind the line of scrimmage. Coming into this game I felt we were going to use it more extensively. I felt like we had good matchups outside with our receivers," he said.'

Marker How can the Bills beat the Steelers? [5:00 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: 'Say what you want, but a lot of starch has been taken out of this game.'

Marker Bills need help from disinterested parties [4:59 AM]
Tonawanda News reports: 'Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher will probably limit the playing time for many of his other starters as well Sunday. The Steelers don't care about this game. For them, the regular season is over. The season they care about is their postseason, which will begin with a home game at Heinz Field on Jan. 15 or 16.'

Marker McGahee shows heart in San Fran [4:58 AM]
Tonawanda News reports: 'have carried over to the whole team. The Bills are a confident group now, and feel they can stand toe-to-toe with any team in the league. Opposing defenses are putting quite a bit of focus on stopping McGahee, and that just opens up the rest of the Buffalo offense.'

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09/11 @ Baltimore Ravens 1:00 pm
09/15 New York Jets 8:25 pm
09/25 Arizona Cardinals 1:00 pm
10/02 @ New England Patriots 1:00 pm
10/09 @ Los Angeles Rams 4:25 pm
10/16 San Francisco 49ers 1:00 pm
10/23 @ Miami Dolphins 1:00 pm
10/30 New England Patriots 1:00 pm
11/07 @ Seattle Seahawks 8:30 pm
11/20 @ Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 pm
11/27 Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 pm
12/4 @ Oakland Raiders 4:05 pm
12/11 Pittsburgh Steelers 1:00 pm
12/18 Cleveland Browns 1:00 pm
12/24 Miami Dolphins 1:00 pm
01/01 @ New York Jets 1:00 pm

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