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Buffalo Bills News - September 5, 2000

Marker 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.'

Marker 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."'

Marker 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."'

Marker 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."'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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."'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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."'

Marker 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?'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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?'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

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September 4, 2000

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker Special teams turn up heat late [5:49 PM]
Murfreesboro Daily News Journal reports: 'The Tennessee Titans' special teams nearly did it to the Buffalo Bills again. Buffalo avenged its loss in last January's Wild Card playoff contest 16-13 Sunday but only after it held on against the surging Titans' special teams.'

Marker Revenge in Buffalo [1:46 PM]
Syracuse Post-Standard reports: 'The popular tailgate T-shirt at Ralph Wilson Stadium read "Wide Right, No Goal, Forward Lateral - Screwed Again." Those eight simple words sum up Buffalo's infamous history staring at the horse's rear instead of being perched atop the saddle. The Wide Right refers to Norwood's field goal from Super Bowl XXV and the "No Goal" references the 1999 Stanley Cup finals when Dallas beat Buffalo on a controversial goal call. The Forward Lateral kept brooding Bills fans waiting for this rematch since the depths of winter, and the game didn't disappoint.'

Marker Van Pelt helps Bills survive opener [1:39 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'But, as Phillips concluded, "All games are important ... but certainly this one could be down the line if we have the kind of team we want later on. Any tiebreaker, and they'd have to come back here." But, given their druthers, the Bills have seen enough of the Titans for this season.'

Marker Bills win Nickel City nailbiter [1:37 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'The Bills are tied with the New York Giants with the most "home grown" players on their roster with 40. The Bills have 31 draftees on their 53-man squad, plus nine undrafted free agents. Tennessee and Pittsburgh have the most draftees on their rosters, 33. And New Orleans and Miami have the fewest "home grown" players with 23.'

Marker This time, a happy ending [9:11 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'It was sweet revenge for the home fans, who saw the Titans end the Bills' playoff hopes in the first round last year. The faithful came early to the parking lots around the stadium in Orchard Park and partied hearty.'

Marker Bills persevere in Titanic struggle [9:10 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Buffalo Bills scored a little Throwback Payback Sunday night against the Tennessee Titans. The new-look Bills opened the 2000 season with a dramatic 16-13 victory over the defending AFC champions. But it wasn't easy.'

Marker Defense silences Titans attack [9:09 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'For those who thought the Buffalo Bills defense was going to take a fall this season, the guys on that side of the football had a rejoinder Sunday night. We're still standing.'

Marker Bills' new faces on defense get acquainted fast [9:08 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"We looked like the best defense in the league again tonight," said coach Wade Phillips.'

Marker Monday billboard [9:07 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Bills linebacker Keith Newman had two sacks in his first NFL start. The second one pinned the Titans deep in their own territory and allowed the Bills good field position in the third quarter. FYI: Gabe Northern, Newman's predecessor, was waived by the Pittsburgh Steelers after training camp.'

Marker Christie's late FG music to Bills' ears [7:27 AM]
Houston Chronicle reports: '"Our defense played well the entire game except that one pass to Moulds at the end," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "We couldn't run the ball. We didn't convert on third down. And we dropped too many passes. "Now we've got to dig ourselves out of this hole."'

Marker No miracle this year [6:43 AM]
Titans Exclusive reports: 'It was a night of dropped balls and missed opportunities for both teams, but the Titans' miscues were more crucial and would have had a huge impact on the outcome.'

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