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Buffalo Bills News - September 3, 2000

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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."'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker AFC Preview [6:19 AM]
New York Daily News reports: 'Never count Bills out until the playoffs.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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."'

Marker 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.'

Marker When last we saw the Buffalo Bills ... [5:54 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'It was a horror show the Buffalo Bills special-teams players couldn't possibly forget. And, as his first order of official business, new special-teams coach Ronnie Jones wasn't about to let them. When the Bills convened at training camp in Rochester, N.Y., in mid-July, Jones began his initial meeting with special-teams players by showing the gruesome video of the Music City Miracle, an epic tragedy for an NFL team all to familiar with high-profile failure. "Guys were screaming at me to turn it off," Jones said of his first chance to make a bad impression. "They were upset and tired of seeing it but I let it run. You have to see it. The veterans don't need to be reminded, I suppose, but the rookies haven't been through that."'

Marker By George, Titans ready [5:52 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'At 6-foot-4, Eddie George of the Tennessee Titans is one of the NFL's tallest running backs, and more susceptible than most to punishing blows from opposing defences. Still, George rarely sits out a play and hasn't missed a start in his four years in the league. So, as punishing a blow as last January's 23-16 Super Bowl loss to the St. Louis Rams was, George expects to rebound the same way. "I think it definitely made us hungry, you know, to try to get back to that point again," said George, who intends to pick things up in tonight's season opener, a Music City Miracle rematch against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium (8:35 p.m., TSN). "We want to be a better football team and grow off of it," he said. "I think that was just a building block."'

Marker Bills fans seeking payback for Miracle [5:45 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: '"I would rank the indignation by people in Buffalo over 'Home Run Throw Back' to more than 'No Goal,' " said sports writer Larry Felser, who has covered the Bills for the past 40 years. "Because 'No Goal' happened late at night, people woke up to it. This thing happened in front of God and everybody. "It was an instant explosion. People were instantly indignant and have stayed that way."'

Marker Titans focus on putting foe away early [5:43 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: '"We should be winning convincingly now," defensive end Kenny Holmes said. "I see what we did last offseason, I see what we did this offseason. We worked even harder. Going to the Super Bowl wasn't an excuse for us to take the summer off. "We want to get back and win. We didn't win, so it was all for naught."'

Marker Who has the edge? [5:41 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'Titans 27, Bills 23'

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September 2, 2000

Marker A.F.C. Scouting Reports [9:07 PM]
New York Times reports: 'No miracles required [for Buffalo] to return to the playoffs.'

Marker Extra 'receiver' in place for Bills games [9:02 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Verizon Wireless will plug in a mobile cellular site that it calls "cell on wheels" for the Buffalo Bills game, the company said. More than 70,000 fans can fill the stadium's bowl during games, the equivalent of a small, garrulous city that can overload Verizon's four transmitters in the area, marketing director John O'Malley said. "We did have instances where some sites experienced blocking of calls," he said. Cellular companies can divide their frequencies among an almost unlimited numbers of users, but the feat takes multiple transmitters to accomplish. The temporary site, hidden in 12-foot enclosure near a stadium gate, can connect 100 calls at once, effectively doubling Verizon's capacity in and around the stadium, O'Malley said. It will be in place throughout the football season, using an antenna mounted on the stadium's administration building. The temporary tower is part of Verizon's deal with the Buffalo Bills as its official provider of wireless service, O'Malley said.'

Marker Deep impact [8:59 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"I like this offense," [Jay Riemersma] said. "We've got some talent, so it's just a matter of the coaches putting guys in the right spots because we have that ability. There might be more opportunities for me to catch the ball. If I get the opportunity to do that this year, I'll try to take advantage of it as much as possible."'

Marker 2000 AFC Preview [7:22 AM]
New York Newsday reports: 'While QB Doug Flutie sits, Rob Johnson needs to show pocket poise he's noted for... RB Antowain Smith needs breakout season . . . Bills return to playoffs as a wild card.'

Marker Bills are braced for a party [6:42 AM]
D and C reports: '"The game will be a kind of trial by fire for security," said Samuel McCune, the Orchard Park police chief. "It's a night game and there's a holiday the next day." Scott Berchtold, the Bills vice president for communications, said team officials are well aware of the potential for problems. But he said tighter security measures adopted last season and in place for this season should help. "We'll do our best," Berchtold said. "And it's not as if we haven't gone through this before."'

Marker Preparing for 'The Freak' [6:41 AM]
D and C reports: 'When the Bills quarterback was asked this week if Tennessee's sack machine, Jevon Kearse, is the kind of player a quarterback has to account for as soon as he gets to the line of scrimmage, Johnson said, "You can't really worry about him. I'm worried about where the safeties are. I have confidence in them (the offensive line) that they're going to get those guys blocked." Sure, Rob. And you didn't look at the pictures after you finished reading that interview you gave to Penthouse magazine.'

Marker AFC Preview [6:39 AM]
Toronto Globe & Mail reports: [AFC East, 3.] Buffalo Bills: The league's second smallest market might be home to the biggest sideshow this year. The Doug Flutie against Wade Phillips/Rob Johnson feud got heated in preseason and may come to a boil if the Bills start slowly. Johnson is the No. 1 guy but Flutie has supporters in Buffalo and was 10-5 as a starterlast year.'

Marker Music City Miracle memories: The other side [6:29 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'Cowart's recollection: "After we kicked the field goal, the kickoff team huddled up and the linebackers and DBs were back on the sidelines. We were going over deep coverage for a Hail Mary and the long ball. We were drawing up different scenarios on what they possibly were going to do. Out of the blue, we heard the crowd just erupt and thought there was a fumble or something. I looked up at the 'Tron and saw Dyson jogging into the end zone. The first thing I did was look around and I thought there had to be a flag somewhere. And then once I saw the replay and saw the throwback I thought, 'Oh no, this is stuff we work on every day.'"'

Marker Johnson, Flutie put last year's QB drama behind them [6:27 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: '"I think [Rob Johnson's] proven to everyone he's the quarterback here," said linebacker Sam Cowart. "On the field he's a lot more serious, he came in in tip-top shape. I think he's just established himself." On the field, yes, Johnson is the guy. The Bills want Johnson's arm in the lineup.'

Marker Hicks, Kearse matchup to be sight to see [6:25 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'Bills right tackle Robert Hicks, all 6-foot-7, 330 pounds of him, will spend the most time across from Kearse tomorrow night. Buffalo Coach Wade Phillips has said Hicks will get some help at times but on many plays Hicks "is just going to have to rise to that challenge." Hicks was bothered by an ankle injury when the two teams met in the AFC Wild Card game. "It's a great matchup, I think," Hicks said. "But it's not a tough matchup just for me, it's a tough matchup for him, too. "Last time I played a nice game against him on a bad ankle. I'm ready for the challenge and he should be ready for the challenge, too."'

Marker Price saw starting job coming last season [6:22 AM]
Nashville Tennessean reports: 'It was official the moment the Bills let their all-time leading receiver, Andre Reed, go elsewhere. But Peerless Price said he saw it coming before that. "I was getting an opportunity to play more as last season went on," Price said. "I felt like coming into camp this time the job could be mine. "Andre, I have to thank him. He helped me a lot, but even if he would have been here I felt like I was going to have the opportunity to be in there."'

Marker Face vengeful Bills [6:20 AM]
Titans Exclusive reports: '"What happened last year will be a factor the entire week leading up to the game," Titans head coach Jeff Fisher said. "It'll be the main focal point on the local level and a national level. But when the game starts, it¹s no longer an issue. This issue is what's taking place between the snap and the whistle."'

September 1, 2000

Marker Wiley ready to get out of Bruce Smith's shadow [9:00 PM]
AP reports: '"Everybody's going to remember Bruce Smith, and it's my point to let everyone know who Marcellus Wiley is,'' Wiley said as the new-look Bills prepared to open their season Sunday night against Tennessee. "But it takes time. You don't get 170-some sacks in one year. ... It's important for me to keep that respect and attitude.'' Wiley said he and Smith, who landed as a free agent with Washington last offseason, still keep in touch, calling each other about once a week. "He just wishes me the best. It's kind of a calming situation,'' Wiley said. "He tells me, 'Don't get caught up in the hype and who you're supposed to be. Just be yourself and everyone has confidence in that.'''

Marker 'Miracle' finish stings in Buffalo [1:36 PM]
Houston Chronicle reports: 'Few cities have suffered as much as Buffalo and its pristine suburbs. From Orchard Park to Amherst, from Lackawanna to Tonawanda, sports fans in upstate New York almost expect devastating defeats rather than championships. Where else can you find fans who suffered through four consecutive Super Bowl losses? Mention former Bills kicker Scott Norwood, and fans flinch at the memory of his missed field goal in the Super Bowl. Bring up Brett Hull and they seethe at the memory of him clinching the Stanley Cup for the Dallas Stars with a goal that shouldn't have counted against their beloved Sabres. But even those hard-bitten fans who became almost immune by experience had a difficult time accepting last season's 22-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans in an AFC wild-card game. Because Kevin Dyson scored the winning touchdown with three seconds remaining on a 75-yard gimmick kickoff return called "Home Run Throwback," the game became famous in Nashville and infamous in Buffalo as the Music City Miracle.'

Marker AFC East capsules [1:28 PM]
Baltimore Sun reports: '[Buffalo] is a team people will regard too lightly, what with all of their personnel losses. If WR Peerless Price takes attention away from the outstanding Eric Moulds, the offense could be clicking into January.'

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