A special need for special teams [6:05 AM]
D and C reports: 'The Bills special team units are dominated by young players long on exuberance but short on experience, and it showed Sunday night in the season opener against Tennessee. Be honest. Every time the Bills went flying downfield to cover a kick or punt, you flashed back to the Home Run Throw Back, especially on that last kickoff return when Derrick Mason was streaking up the middle of the field in the final half-minute looking like he was protected by an invisible force field. Be honest. Every time new Bills' return man Chris Watson went to field a kickoff or punt, he looked like a Little League outfielder trying to gauge a fly ball. "Just catch it! Just catch it!" many in the crowd of 72,492 screamed.'
Buffalo WR Moulds starting to simmer [6:04 AM]
D and C reports: 'Eric Moulds, who stormed out of the locker room after Sunday's night's victory over the Tennessee Titans, again refused to speak with reporters yesterday. "I'm not happy," Moulds was quoted as saying following Sunday's win. Quarterback Rob Johnson speculated that Moulds' frustration is showing early over the extra attention he's receiving from opposing defenses now that veteran Andre Reed is no longer with the team. Moulds caught just two passes -- not until the fourth quarter -- against the Titans for 46 yards. His last catch, for 36 yards, set up Steve Christie's winning field goal. Apparently that wasn't a good enough start for Moulds. He becomes a free agent after this season and is looking to join the highest-paid receivers in the NFL, such as Joey Galloway and Keyshawn Johnson, who earn $5-6 million annually. Moulds' cap figure for this season is just under $1 million.'
Bid for NFL may be tied to Olympics [6:03 AM]
Toronto Star reports: 'Since Ted Rogers bought the Blue Jays - what, already? - and installed Paul Godfrey as the tallest forehead, hardly anyone holding the reins of power seems to be talking baseball. Somebody thought Rogers would leap into the fray to buy the Maple Leafs, once the Honest Grocer (ret.) was eased out, and there were suggestions The Cable Guy take over the Argos, too. But it turns out the real sporting passion for the new baseball proprietors seems to be a favourite old fantasy friend and trend, the NFL coming to Toronto...But if we're thinking NFL - and the usual suspects are because of Godfrey's re-emergence into the limelight - let us consider the following: That new $700 million (U.S., of course, meaning more than $1 billion Cdn.) price tag for NFL expansion franchises apparently is no matter any longer. Because now Toronto is going to sit on a Ralph Wilson mortality watch and wait for the Buffalo Bills to become available? Hmmmm. The suggestion, obviously, is that the NFL will allow the move of a team out of an established market, one with an 80,000-seat stadium, into an unestablished market, one that is governed by trends (Raptors in; Blue Jays and Argos out). Most importantly, it also is a market that contains no stadium suitable to the NFL. The only way you buy this scenario is to believe that the stadium will be provided. How? Well, you know how. That 100,000-seat Olympic 2008 stadium, the one that is going to be 20,000 permanent seats with 80,000 Meccano-set seats added on.'
Williams emerges as imposing threat for the Bills [9:15 PM]
AP reports: 'Pat Williams has surprised everyone in the NFL. Everyone, that is, except for the Buffalo Bills. Signed as an undrafted free agent for the NFL minimum salary in 1997, the defensive tackle Williams is emerging as a force in the Bills' new-look scheme. Lining up alongside fellow heavyweight nose tackle Ted Washington, the two 310-plus-pounders provide an effective and -- after one game -- unstoppable one-two punch. "It worked good. Not anybody can stop me or Ted," Williams said after practice Wednesday. "(Washington) softens then up for me, and then I go out and punish them a little more. "So Ted punishes them, I punish them, and they be done."'
Titans' sexy defense [9:35 AM]
Shout! reports: 'Let's talk sexy defense. No, not the Bills' defense. While they're very good, probably a top-five unit - possibly No. 1 again - they're not sexy. They're into fundamentals. They play sound, they play great, they rarely take risks. They stuff the run, they stop the pass.'
You Make the Call (#13) [9:33 AM]
TBD reports: "You Make the Call" is a presentation of both real and imagined NFL scenarios, where we invite you to "make the call" based upon the Official Rules for the NFL for 1999. Good luck, because you'll need it.
Game Day Photos: Bills defeat Titans [9:24 AM]
Shout! reports: Game day photo gallery from Sunday where the Bills avenged their dramatic playoff defeat against the Titans.
Newman's play makes Bills forget last year's starter [8:59 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Gabe Who? That's what a lot of Buffalo Bills fans are saying after outside linebacker Keith Newman's performance during Sunday night's thrilling 16-13 win over the Tennessee Titans. The second-year pro had a tremendous night with the first two sacks of his career and was solid against the run. Although his first tackle was wiped out by a Tennessee penalty, Newman's hit on running back Eddie George on the game's first snap set the tone for a dominating night for the Bills' defense.'
Antoine Winfield racks up tackles like a linebacker [8:58 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'It was no fluke that cornerback Antoine Winfield led Ohio State, a school famous for linebackers and hard-hitting safeties, in tackling his senior year. For the Bills, it's like having an extra linebacker on the field.'
Buffalo stampede: Offensive linemen will pose problems [8:20 AM]
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports: 'Now that Gilbert Brown's career has eclipsed you might not find a better pure run-stopping nose tackle than Ted Washington and Pat Williams. The problem for the Packers is they both play for Buffalo. "Those two big fat guys they play inside are really good athletes," an executive in personnel for another team said Tuesday. "If you go in there and just try to run the ball, you're going to be in trouble. The run defense of their front seven is probably the best in the National Football League."'
Nice guys don't get NFL teams [6:01 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: '[Paul] Godfrey [the new president and CEO of the Blue Jays] and his Rogers friends [of Rogers Communications] have identified four NFL teams as being vulnerable to franchise moves -- the most logical of the four being the geographically correct Buffalo Bills. With team owner Ralph Wilson turning 82 next month, and Wilson being very aware of his own mortality after a life spent in the insurance business, the Detroit-based owner is very aware his time frame for selling the team and not putting his family in a mess of inheritance tax is short.'
Titans' intro wasn't to show up Bills [2:17 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'The Bills got some misguided inspiration even before kickoff. As coach Wade Phillips noted, "When they came out and introduced their special teams, they got some of our guys mad because that was last year." His reference was to the unit that produced "Home Run Throwback", the kick return for a touchdown that beat the Bills in last January's playoff game at Nashville. But the Titans weren't trying to show up their hosts. The introductions were a tribute to Tennessee special teams coach Alan Lowery, who designed that fateful play, but had severe chest pains earlier in the week, was hospitalized, and didn't make the trip to Buffalo.'
Bills QB still feels after-shock [9:00 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Johnson was still sore on Monday, but walked without a noticeable limp. More important for the Bills, he is expected to practice Wednesday and start Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. "It's a little weak right now," Johnson said following team meetings. "It was like a stinger in the shoulder. You lose power and feeling in it, so it can come back in five to 10 hours or a couple of days. It's good that the feeling is coming back. "I hurt this ankle in Jacksonville and I played on it and I couldn't even walk (afterwards). That could be what's making it worse than it should be. But I don't think it will be bad at all."'
Cottrell keeps Bills defense in full bloom [8:59 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'I'm not sure what Cottrell has to do to get respect in the sport. A year ago, his defense finished No. 1 in the league. It allowed the fewest yards by an AFC team in 21 years. And yet, half a dozen head coaching jobs came open without him getting so much as a sniff. During the offseason, the Bills lost four defensive starters. Experts assumed an inevitable drop-off. One national publication predicted they'd be the 16th-best defense this year. Then, in Sunday night's opener, Cottrell and his staff turned in another defensive gem. They wiped the floor with Tennessee's new offensive staff and left Buffalo fans wondering if this year's defense might actually be better than last year's version. "Ted was really in touch with what they were doing," said Chuck Lester, the Bills' linebackers coach. "He was able to anticipate and makes the calls - bang, bang, bang, bang."'
After scare, coverage team due for change [8:58 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Titans nearly pulled off another Music City Miracle when Derrick Mason was one missed tackle away from taking a kickoff for a touchdown in the final minute of Sunday night's game after a 33-yard Steve Christie field goal had put Buffalo in front, 16-13, with 33 seconds left. Mason's 57-yard return almost was enough to set up a field goal that would have forced overtime. Phillips said the entire return unit was not to blame. "Our left side of our kickoff coverage didn't stay in their lanes," he said. "They got out of their lanes or let guys push them by. We may shuffle people around a little bit." The left side included rookies Corey Moore, Sammy Morris, Travares Tillman and Fred Jones in addition to special teams veteran Donovan Greer. Phillips said the right side, which included cornerback Antoine Winfield and safeties Keion Carpenter, Daryl Porter and Raion Hill, did a good job. Winfield came across the field to assist on the game-saving tackle on Mason. Phillips might move Hill to the other side to balance things out a little, but ultimately it's up to the rookies to get the job done. "They'll get better once they see the film," Phillips said. "It just takes time for those guys. It's just a process for some guys."'
Titans drop ball [6:44 AM]
Titans Exclusive reports: '"They are one tough team," Titans head coach Jeff Fisher said. "And when you play a team like Buffalo, you have to catch balls and not make mistakes. This is the first time in a while we've dropped this many balls, and the rest is history. To win, you have to make the plays when you have a chance. We didn't.'
Titans take look at loss [6:35 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'Despite the big plays that weren't made, Fisher found some good in the loss. "If an average team goes up to play in a place like Buffalo against the quality players and systems that they have and converts two third downs out of 14 attempts -- zero in the second half -- drops four balls for probably over 100 yards and touchdown opportunities, has 12 penalties, gets zero turnovers, they should get beat convincingly," Fisher said. "'So if there are any positives in this loss, it's that we did not play well, yet we had a chance to win the game."'
Santa Claus kicked out at Bills game [6:33 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'Among those escorted out of Ralph Wilson Stadium for unruly behavior was the jolly ol' fat man himself. Santa Claus was involved in a skirmish in the stands and while being taken away by some of Buffalo's finest, had his beard knocked askew, his hat pulled down and quite frankly was an embarrassment to his profession. If you were wearing Titans colors in the Nickel City on Sunday night, odds are you were subjected to any number of threats. One fan returning home said he was struck in the back by an object thrown from behind him and also had Silly String squirted in his face. Another Titans fan said his friend was sitting across the stadium and two Bills fans started with the catcalls, etc., to the point where they started fighting among themselves and were booted from the stadium. The rest of the Bills' fans got mad at the Titans fan because the two Bills fans were ejected, so he wisely left before the game was over to avoid any further confrontation. Let's hope Titans fans treat visitors to Adelphia Coliseum with more respect and dignity.'
Johnson's durability impresses Titans [6:31 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: '"He hung in there -- he is a lot tougher than I thought he would be," Titans Coach Jeff Fisher said. "Defensively, the guys played hard and put good pressure on the quarterback, I'm sure Rob is sore." Titans linebacker Greg Favors sacked Johnson twice, including one hit Johnson never saw coming. "I'll say this about the guy -- he is tough," Favors said. "We hit him with some pretty big licks and he kept getting up."'
Titans vs. Bills rewind [6:30 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'The indifferent: The Titans fiddled around with their receivers instead of playing their best guys across the board. The two times they threw deep, they got a pass-interference call and would have gotten a big reception from George had he held on. Were the Bills DBs so fantastic no one was ever open deep again?'
Johnson battered, but OK [6:28 AM]
D and C reports: 'Rob Johnson was walking around the Buffalo Bills locker room yesterday without a limp, and there seems to be no question that he will be able to play Sunday when the Green Bay Packers invade Ralph Wilson Stadium. Whether Johnson will be able to play the following week, or any of the weeks thereafter, no one is quite sure.'
Bills will stay among elite [6:27 AM]
D and C reports: 'The Colts, one of the least successful teams in the 1990s, are the early pick to be the best team in the 2000s. But next to the Colts, is there a team more likely to be consistently good for years to come than the Bills?'
Quarterback drama is heating up in Buffalo [6:22 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'To be fair, Johnson proved a lot in Sunday's Homerun Payback at Ralph Wilson Stadium, a bit of season-opening revenge for the AFC wild-card playoff loss in January. He proved he could bounce back from a hit, like former Bills great Jim Kelly. Time after time Johnson rose from the turf after being pummelled by Jevon Kearse and the Titans defence. Johnson also proved he could scramble like teammate/chief adversary Doug Flutie, effectively setting up one touchdown and two field goals with his feet, not his much-heralded arm. More than anything, Johnson showed his grit, earning the respect of teammates who had to wonder if there was only break and no bend in his fragile body. Ultimately though, the fifth-year pro who has completed only a handful of NFL games, once again was unable to finish what he started.'
NFL dream alive in T.O. [6:20 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'But for Toronto's purposes, the Buffalo situation couldn't be more perfect. "We plan on being aggressive about this,'' said Godfrey, adding nothing specific about their NFL plans. He can't say anything about this, for now, and for the immediate future.'
Johnson bounces back from leg injury [6:15 AM]
AP reports: 'A little frustrated and plenty banged up, Rob Johnson was back on his feet Monday, saying the feeling and movement has returned to his lower left leg. "I can control the movement. It's a lot better. It's just real weak right now and I'm sure in the next couple of days it'll come back,'' the Buffalo Bills quarterback said, adding he expects to practice on Wednesday.'
Bills Can Put 'Music City Miracle' Behind Them [7:53 PM]
Jamestown Post Journal reports: 'The Buffalo Bills pulled out all the stops Sunday night. They introduced their new mascot, Billy Buffalo. Four parachutists, courtesy of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, landed on the Ralph Wilson Stadium turf. Shoot, even Sharon Jones, the team's personal good-luck charm, sang the National Anthem as fireworks lit up the night sky. And did I mention the white pom-poms, which were handed out to the 72,492 wired fans? It was a pregame befitting a Super Bowl. Alas, it resembled one. Offensively, anyway.'
Another 'Thrilla' between Titans, Bills [5:56 PM]
Murfreesboro Daily News Journal reports: 'Someone get Don King. Find a squared circle in Manilla. The Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills are ready for one more "Thrilla." Sunday, before 72,492 at Ralph Wilson Stadium and a national television audience, the Bills evened what suddenly looks like one of sport's best rivalries 16-13.'
Close-to-vest Titans offense getting old [5:54 PM]
Murfreesboro Daily News Journal reports: 'By now, the mode of operation for the Tennessee Titans should be quite familiar. Recent history has taught us that any team coached by Jeff Fisher will rely on a stingy defense, a conservative offense, and the notion that if you keep the game close and don't make mistakes you can pull the victory out in the end. It didn't work Sunday night in the 16-13 season-opening loss to the Bills.'
Tennessee pass rushers get after Johnson [5:53 PM]
Murfreesboro Daily News Journal reports: 'This time the Tennessee Titans did not adopt a "show-me" approach. Instead, they decided to show an inexperienced quarterback all manner of pressure to see if he could handle it. He did, but not for a full 60 minutes.'
Defense leads the way for Bills [5:51 PM]
Murfreesboro Daily News Journal reports: 'And per usual for the Bills, who led the NFL in overall and passing defense last season, the defense can be credited with the victory. "We've got a great defense," Phillips said. "They are capable of doing great things." Indeed, the Bills did just that against the Titans, who could muster only 172 yards of total offense and nine first downs.'
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