Report card [6:14 AM]
D and C reports: 'Rob Johnson's worst nightmare was realized behind a horrid performance by his offensive line. He withstood numerous hits, while throwing for one TD and setting up two field goals, giving the Bills a 13-6 lead before suffering a leg injury. The goal was to shed his injury-prone label, but it didn't happen. Backup Alex Van Pelt, however, had some magic in his bag.'
Bills and Titans give fans enough bang for a buck [6:11 AM]
D and C reports: 'With any luck, the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans will meet again this season, maybe for the AFC Championship and the right to go to the Super Bowl. These two teams know how to entertain.'
Bills End This Game With Different Tune [6:08 AM]
New York Times reports: 'The key play was a Van Pelt pass of 36 yards to wide receiver Eric Moulds, one of the premier pass catchers in the game, which put Buffalo on the Tennessee 20-yard line, setting up Christie's kick. This time, there was no miracle kickoff-return runback by the Titans, but it was a pretty good one nonetheless -- a a 52-yard return by Derrick Mason to the Buffalo 49 yard line. After a 9-yard pass play, the Titans decided to try a 60-yard field goal. But the kick by Craig Hentrich was wide left.'
Play Leaves Indelible Mark on DeHaven [6:05 AM]
New York Times reports: '"If I were 100 years old, I would remember what happened on that play," he said in a telephone interview last month from San Francisco.'
Revamped Bills look for winning combination [6:04 AM]
Business First of Buffalo reports: 'The tally shows another 11-5 season and another playoff berth through the wild card.'
Bills win tight'un [5:54 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'The miracle script, first written nine months ago, was looking all too familiar last night. This time, the Bills satisfied their sweet tooth with long- awaited revenge, the last men standing in a 16-13 bash of the Tennessee Titans that was more of a defensive prize fight than offensive artistry. Urged on by a blood-thirsty sellout crowd, the Bills gave their fans what they wanted -- redemption for a bitter, controversial 22-16 loss to Tennessee in an AFC wild-card playoff in January.'
Bills get sweet revenge on Titans [5:50 AM]
Toronto Star reports: 'When asked if he was concerned about how the game was unfolding in eerily similar fashion to last season's playoff loss, Phillips responded: "This is a different team, a different year. Last year's gone. I don't live in the past. "We won the game. I'm pleased but we've got a long road to go and there are things we need to shore up, but any time you have a great defence you have the makings of a great football team."'
Miracle comes to a close [5:47 AM]
Toronto Star reports: 'It was the day the Music City miracle died. Any possible reprise at the Ralph ended with a wide and short 60-yard field goal attempt by strong-legged punter Craig Hentrich which helicoptered left as drained Bills defenders held heads in hands and spun to the ground in relief. The demons were finally exorcised, winging skyward in the exact opposite direction from where four pre-game parachutes had descended.'
Titans lose tight game to Bills [5:43 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'Tennessee had no game-ending miracle this time, as a last-ditch, 60-yard field goal attempt by Craig Hentrich sailed wide left and appeared short. The Bills won, 16-13, exacting at least a small measure of revenge for the Music City Miracle as Steve Christie nailed a 32-yard field goal with :35 on the clock.'
Tribute to Lowry didn't go over well with Bills fans [5:41 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'The Titans wanted to pay tribute to their special teams coach, Alan Lowry, who didn't make the trip here after chest pains prompted a heart procedure midweek. So Tennessee didn't introduce its offense or its defense, but its special teams last night before kicking off the regular season with a rematch of last season's Wild Card Game matchup, won with the Music City Miracle. Those who recognized it at sold out Ralph Wilson Stadium surely saw it as the Titans taking advantage of one last opportunity before kickoff to rub Home Run Throw Back into Western New York's collective face.'
Titans offense never able to get off ground [5:40 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'Steve Christie's 33-yard field goal with 31 seconds left was the difference, but in the end dropped balls, mental errors and overall lackluster play on the offensive end prevented the Titans with a chance to start the season on a positive note. "It was very frustrating," Titans quarterback Steve McNair said. "They did a lot of things to stop us and we just could never get started. But Buffalo has a good defense and you have to give them credit -- they did what we had to do and we didn't."'
Defense targeted Bills QB Johnson, and hit their target often [5:38 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'But for all of Johnson's talent -- a powerful arm to go with good mobility -- he will stand in the pocket until he is virtually out of time. In his previous 16 games before last night, he had been sacked 37 times -- that's 2.3 sacks per Johnson game. That isn't counting all of the hits he has taken on throws that actually made it out of his right hand. "You see what [Johnson] went through," Van Pelt said. "He's as tough as they come." "I think Rob has shown us he's our quarterback," said Bills linebacker Sam Cowart. "Just with the way he has approached things. We know he's going to be there and try to make some things happen."'
Titans start season with sloppy football [5:35 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'Home Run Throw Back now has been replaced by Buffalo Bills' payback. Next, we'll see how the Titans come back.'
Titans had no miracles left in Buffalo [5:34 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'After the Titans tied it with 9:44 showing, Alex Van Pelt replaced a gimpy Johnson and eventually drove the Bills down for a Steve Christie field goal with 31 seconds left. It went down to the wire. This time, the Titans were fresh out of miracles.'
Highs and lows of the Titans-Bills game [5:31 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'Of all the variations on the theme, the best sign inside Ralph Wilson Stadium was hand-lettered on a large piece of cardboard: "Home Run Throw Up!" First runner-up: "NFL -- No Forward Laterals."'
Titans report cards vs. Bills [5:29 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'Rushing offense - F - Ineffective night for Eddie George (17 carries for 37 yards). The Titans were too stubborn with it when things didn't open up late in the game. On their own 14-yard line with 2:37 they ran him three times and punted.'
Bills 16, Titans 13 [5:27 AM]
AP reports: 'New season. Same drama. New outcome. Finally, perhaps, the Buffalo Bills can look ahead and stop replaying "The Music City Miracle." "I hope so," Bills quarterback Rob Johnson said Sunday night after Buffalo edged Tennessee 16-13 in a rematch of last year's AFC wild card playoff game, won by the Titans on the final play. "How sweet it is," Buffalo coach Wade Phillips said. "Not revenge, but victory."'
Bills 16, Titans 13 [5:22 AM]
Sportsticker reports: 'With the Buffalo Bills watching in horror, the Tennessee Titans almost provided a flashback to "Home Run Throwback." The Bills survived Derrick Mason's long kickoff return and held on for a 16-13 victory over the Titans in a rematch of their thrilling and controversial playoff meeting from last season.'
NFL schedule maker does Bills a favor [3:23 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'When the league formula dictated that the Bills and Titans would meet this season, the game was booked for the first week ... reintroducing that bizarre finish, but at least getting it out of the way in the opener. Even now, some Buffalo fans swear the Bills were jobbed on the play ... that Wycheck's toss was illegal and not a lateral at all. And they've found in ally in coach Wade Phillips who has his own name for the memorable play: "Home Run Throw Forward." But, of all people, he has a sympathizer in his Tennessee counterpart. "I just think it's just his opinion of the play," said Titans coach Jeff Fisher when asked if Phillips' contention smacked of sour grapes. "I often times put myself in (his) shoes and can only imagine how he feels. After playing the way his team did ... having the season his team had ... and the expectations they had... to come down to what they thought it took to win the ball game and have it end like that ... I could only begin to understand how he feels. I'm sure a lot of people in that organization haven't had a good night's sleep since it happened." Especially, since Fisher thought the game was lost with 16 seconds to go.'
Throwback Playback [9:24 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The electricity on the sidelines was enough to make one's hair stand on end. The Buffalo Bills had taken what seemed like the best haymakers the Tennessee Titans could throw for three hours. They had seen teammate after teammate get carted off the field. Both starting tackles were injured. Running back Antowain Smith hobbled off. Linebacker Marlo Perry broke his leg and went off on a stretcher. Yet they had hung together. They had fought back. Here they were, in the loudest stadium in the NFL, Adelphia Coliseum in Nashville, Tenn. It had been a madhouse all afternoon, but all of a sudden it was dead quiet. Half their teammates on the sideline had just mobbed Steve Christie, whose 41-yard field goal gave the Bills a 16-15 lead. Sixteen seconds remained as they gathered to hear special teams coach Bruce DeHaven tell them how Christie would kick off. Their adrenaline was off the charts. "Everybody was jacked," said Christie. "I had another coach in the league tell me that if you think those guys heard anything you said in that huddle before you went out, you're crazy," said DeHaven this week from his San Francisco 49ers office. "I'm not sure I totally agree with that." What happened next, of course, is NFL history.'
Bills could send message against Titans [9:22 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'A victory over the AFC Champion Tennessee Titans would do a lot more than exact a tiny measure of revenge for last January's Music City Miracle. It would give a surprising boost to the Bills' expectations for the season and send a message to the football world that they are serious playoff contenders.'
Holding his ground [9:21 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Antowain Smith can almost hear the whispers coming from the fans. He knows there are two younger players pushing from behind. They might have better instincts. They might have more ability. They might take his job someday soon. Everywhere he turns, he knows there are people doubting whether he should still play a significant role for the Buffalo Bills this season, as if his time here has come and gone. It seems everyone in his world is lurking, waiting for him to make one false move, so they can replace him with Shawn Bryson or Jonathan Linton. No doubt, this is a pivotal year in Smith's career. He started thinking about the importance of this, his fourth NFL season, moments after the Tennessee Titans ended the Bills' season last year with that fluke kickoff return. His effectiveness this year could very well decide whether he has another one with the Bills. And nobody is more clear about Smith's future than Antowain Smith himself.'
Last year's accomplishments mean little to this year's Bills' defense [9:20 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'This was early in the Buffalo Bills' training camp. A well-known football annual had reached the newsstands and it was the talk of the St. John Fisher campus. The magazine included a feature story that rated all 31 NFL teams by units. The Buffalo defense, which had finished No. 1 in the league less than six months before, was ranked 16th in the story. The defensive backfield, which lost two starters, was rated 26th, somewhat understandable. But the linebacking, with three young starters returning, got a rating of 23. The most startling number was the 28th ranking, just three from the bottom, awarded to the defensive line. "I read it to our defensive guys," said Ted Cottrell, their coordinator. "They were angry. Really mad."'
Deep thinkers may turn Bills-Titans into aerial showdown [9:19 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'This should be a great game, with the decisive factors being pass rush and quarterbacking. The Titans' pass rush is a lot more proven and may create pivotal turnovers. . . . Titans 27-20.'
The perfect start [9:18 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Bills head coach Wade Phillips doesn't need advice from us, but if the Titans score a late touchdown or field goal, and the Bills have the game safely salted away, perhaps he might think of letting his return man lateral the ensuing kickoff to another Bill, who would then throw the ball across the field and . . . Oh, never mind. A victory will be good enough.'
Sky high for Bills game [9:17 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Seems the Buffalo Bills will help make some high-altitude history tonight - and we're not talking about Rob Johnson's passing. JetBlue Airways says it will make aviation and broadcasting history as it plays host for the first National Football League game to be broadcast live on ESPN in flight - between the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans. Each seat comes with a personal satellite TV, featuring 24 channels of DIRECTV programming, provided free of charge.'
AFC Preview [6:19 AM]
New York Daily News reports: 'Never count Bills out until the playoffs.'
A sold-out, super-charged opener [6:01 AM]
D and C reports: 'The Titans and Bills meet tonight at sold-out Ralph Wilson Stadium in one of the most anticipated regular-season openers in history. Just eight months ago, Tennessee thwarted Buffalo's Super Bowl hopes with a stunning 22-16 wild-card playoff victory in Nashville, scoring the winning touchdown in the final seconds on a controversial 75-yard lateral kickoff return. "We are all expecting a hostile environment going up to Buffalo this time," Titans running back Eddie George said. "Especially the way that playoff game ended. I'm pretty sure they circled this game at the top of their schedule." The Bills don't deny the memory of Kevin Dyson running untouched up the sideline haunts them. They don't deny revenge is a powerful motivator.'
The last resort [5:59 AM]
D and C reports: 'It should be noted that Bills punter Chris Mohr, the team's designated emergency quarterback, has a much higher career completion percentage than either Rob Johnson or Doug Flutie. Of course, it also should be noted that Mohr has tossed just one spiral in his 10-year Buffalo career. He'd like to keep it that way. "If I'm in there taking snaps then we are in serious trouble," says Mohr, who is expected to enter tonight's season opener against the Tennessee Titans at Ralph Wilson Stadium as Buffalo's third-string signal-caller. "I'd love to give quarterback a brief shot, but not under these circumstances. If I'm in there against the Titans that means Rob (Johnson) and Alex (Van Pelt) have been knocked out, and I don't want to see that."'
Bills-Titans scouting report [5:58 AM]
D and C reports: 'This goes without saying, but . . . If they're kicking off to the Titans in the final seconds, stay in their coverage lanes.'
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