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Buffalo Bills News - December 31, 2004

Marker Big Ben right on time [5:00 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: '"What really sticks out about this kid is that he avoids a lot of sacks. He has a real ability to get away. His passes also look sharper and crisper and he's gotten a better feel for the personnel around him. He's just going to be a phenomenal football player."'

Marker Former Pitt QB still has fond memories of '89 game [4:59 AM]
El Paso Times reports: 'Van Pelt has formed a special bond with the Western New York area near Buffalo, where he's worked the past 10 years, first as the Bills' backup quarterback and, beginning this past fall, as a radio analyst for their games. But Van Pelt longs to be even closer to the game. His NFL legacy is as a player who made the most of his ability and always came prepared. The Bills valued his ability to step in if needed, but they also knew his work in the filmroom allowed him to serve as a sort of player/coach at his position. He essentially was a two-for-one type of player.'

Marker It's a Buffalo stampede [4:58 AM]
CBS Sportsline reports: 'Think about it. When the Bills were 0-4, you couldn't find a damn fan anywhere. They never wrote. They never complained. They never sent a nasty e-mail. Now they're everywhere.'

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December 30, 2004

Marker Villarrial Thinks He'll Play. Vincent Misses Practice [8:09 PM]
WGR-AM reports: 'Chris Villarrial missed his second straight practice with an abdomen injury, but he indicated he'll play on Sunday.'

Marker Bills Playoff Scenarios [8:08 PM]
WGR-AM reports: 'Three teams have failed to qualify for the post season after six straight victories to finish the year.'

Marker Linemen Key To Revival [8:03 PM]
RNews.com reports: '“To date, that is the strength of this football team,” Vincent said. “All preseason long, it was the talk of it not being the strength of this football team. They have carried the load.”'

Marker Donahoe's stamp evident on Bills' resurgence [4:42 PM]
AP reports: 'In fact, only two players, receiver Eric Moulds and defensive tackle Pat Williams, are left from the team Donahoe inherited.'

Marker Bills' OG Villarrial questionable with rib injury [4:41 PM]
AP reports: 'Without divulging the extent of the injury, Villarrial said he expects to play. Then, he added laughing that he'll have to since he has about 50 family and friends that will be attending the game against the visiting Steelers on Sunday.'

Marker Steelers realize dangers of late-season letdown [4:08 PM]
AP reports: 'The game is far more important to the Bills (9-6), who have won six in a row but must win to retain their playoff hopes. The Bills are loaded with former Steelers personnel, including general manager Tom Donahoe, coach Mike Mularkey and offensive coordinator Tom Clements. ``They're playing with a lot of confidence. And they're on a roll, so teams that are peaking at the right time going into the playoffs are tough. So it would be nice to keep them out of the playoffs,'' said quarterback Tommy Maddox, who will make his first start since Sept. 19.'

Marker NFL’s Best team heads to Buffalo [11:47 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: 'Pittsburgh will be playing to win the game and possibly eliminate Buffalo from playoff contention. The game has many subplots with so many connections between the two teams, but Mularkey said it's just like any other game. "There's not enough time to put the emotional part into it," Mularkey said, "maybe as we get closer but not right now. To me, it still feels the same. We've got another opponent we're game planning for and practicing and meeting and focusing on."'

Marker Bledsoe's field generalship jells in a hurry [8:52 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'So as they enter their must-win regular-season finale against Pittsburgh on Sunday, it's no wonder the Bills are thinking the no-huddle is a good idea.'

Marker More to Steelers than magical arm of rookie QB [8:51 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"Ben has had a very good supporting cast around him," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said Wednesday during a conference call with the Western New York media. "It's really been a collective effort on everybody's part, but Ben certainly has held up his end of it. He has performed very consistently and has performed at a very high level."'

Marker Cowher would love to pop Bills' balloon [8:50 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Cowher-Donahoe feud is one of many intriguing subplots to the season finale. Maybe Cowher has put it behind him. But it had to rankle him when, just three months ago, Donahoe said the Steelers had made a mistake in choosing Cowher over him - and that a lot of people in the Pittsburgh organization agreed with him.'

Marker Playing at Indy likely in playoffs [8:49 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'If the Jets lose and Denver wins, Denver is the No. 5 seed and the Bills are the sixth seed. If the Jets win and Denver loses, the Jets are the fifth seed and the Bills are sixth. If the Jets lose and Denver loses, the Bills are the fifth seed and the Jets are the sixth seed. In that case, the Bills would make their fourth West Coast trip of the season and go to San Diego.'

Marker Donahoe earns players' respect [5:19 AM]
Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports: '"The big thing that Tom has done -- and it shouldn't be something that's hard for people to understand, but sometimes it gets overlooked -- is that he has put together a team of good people, guys who understand playing within a team concept, guys who are unselfish and willing to put the team first," said Bledsoe, who was with the Patriots until Donahoe acquired him in 2003. "When I was in New England, when they started to put together that team, which has become, really, a true dynasty, that is what happened there. They brought in guys of good character and put that above athletic ability and physical talent, in terms of evaluating guys."'

Marker Nothing personal between Steelers and Bills [5:18 AM]
Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports: '"I'm very appreciative of him," Ward said. "He is the reason I'm here, playing with this team. I have to give him a lot of credit and thank him because there were a lot of teams that passed on me because I didn't have an ACL. He took a chance on me and seven years later look at me."'

Marker Thursday's Pittsburgh Coverage [5:17 AM]
TwoBillsDrive.com reports:
Nothing personal between Steelers and Bills (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
It's official: Maddox to start (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
Farrior picked as team's MVP (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
Roethlisberger's jersey climbs to top of sales list (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
Farrior overwhelmingly picked as MVP (Pittsburgh Tribune Review)
Cowher names Maddox as the starter Sunday (Pittsburgh Tribune Review)
Roethlisberger doesn't think Suggs deserves fine (Pittsburgh Tribune Review)
Donahoe earns players' respect (Pittsburgh Tribune Review)
This Sunday a day of rest for Big Ben (Beaver County Times)
Steelers' MVP? Farrior's the pick (Beaver County Times)
Turnarounsd (Beaver County Times)
Maddox to start for Big Ben (Washington Observer Reporter)
Despite 13-game winning streak, Roethlisberger all but certain to rest (AP)
Steelers draw huge TV ratings in Pittsburgh (AP)
Inside slant (CBS Sportsline)
Strategy and personnel (CBS Sportsline)
Notes, quotes (CBS Sportsline)
Farrior Selected Steelers’ 2004 Most Valuable Player (Steelers.com)
James Farrior MVP Press Conference (Steelers.com)
Steelers will play to win (Steelers.com)
Giant Eagle Jerome Bettis Show Post-Season Taping Dates (Steelers.com)
Buffalo Bills Conference Calls (Steelers.com)
Steelers RB Duce Staley named this week's Ameriquest Mortgage Neighborhood MVP (Steelers.com)

Marker Steelers head into Buffalo intent on winning [5:02 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: '"That's just the way it is. You've got to be smart about it because there are things in the future that you have to start looking for. I think that it's a fine line that you're on. But it will be hard to tell the 11 guys on the field that they're trying not to win."'

Marker Bills' playoff chances no longer slim [5:01 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: 'Cowher has said the Steelers are coming to Buffalo to win and hints that most of his regulars will be in the lineup, but the wizards of odds in Las Vegas obviously don't believe him.'

Marker Gray's defense near top [5:00 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: 'Regardless of where the rankings end up, Gray said it is LeBeau who can do the most crowing. His team is primed for a run at the Super Bowl after a Steelers' record 13 consecutive wins, the Bills are still on the outside looking in, and the Redskins (5-10) are looking forward to the draft. "Dick's been No. 1 most of the year," Gray said. "You look at that team, sitting 14-1, it's great. But all three of the guys who were here last year landed on their feet and we all showed we can handle our own business."'

Marker Bills steel for one huge game [4:59 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'For the Bills to be still in a position to make the NFL playoffs on the final day of the regular season, dozens upon dozens of factors had to fall perfectly for them over the past two months. More than anything, they had to get their own act together, then hope for some divine intervention.'

Marker Inside slant [4:58 AM]
CBS Sportsline reports: '"I don't know if anybody wants to play the Bills. We've been on a run," cornerback Troy Vincent said. "We've played well consistently over the past couple of weeks in all three phases, and that's what people are seeing. When you have all three phases playing well, that's a difficult team to beat."'

Marker Strategy and personnel [4:57 AM]
CBS Sportsline reports: 'What makes Evans so prolific right now isn't just his speed, Mularkey said, but his toughness. He isn't intimidated by any coverage he sees or by physical tactics of defensive backs.'

Marker Notes, quotes [4:56 AM]
CBS Sportsline reports: 'When asked about Donahoe's comment that the Steelers made a mistake by firing him, Cowher was upfront in a conference call with Western New York beat writers on Wednesday. "Like I said, I can't speak for him. I'm not bringing things out of the closet and I don't hold grudges," Cowher said. "In this business, and if you stay in this business long enough, sometimes those things are going to happen. I feel like I'm working for the best owner in football and we're trying to win a championship here. I don't hold grudges and I have nothing negative to say about him. If Tom still feels that way, that's Tom's feelings. I can't change that, I can only tell you what I feel."'

Marker Pittsburgh (14-1) at Buffalo (9-6) [4:55 AM]
AP reports: 'Looking to join the 1992 San Diego Chargers as the only teams to make the postseason after an 0-4 start, the Bills have won their last six games by an average of 23.2 points. ``We put ourselves in a bind starting 0-4, but nobody panicked,'' safety Lawyer Milloy said. ``We're getting stronger. ... I know there's probably some teams right now that don't want us to get in.'''

Marker Buffalo Bills vs. Pittsburgh Steelers [4:54 AM]
WIVB-TV reports: 'But the playoff-juiced crowd at the Ralph will inspire the Bills to a tough, hard-fought 17-13 win.'

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.'

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.'''

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09/10 New York Jets 1:00 pm
09/17 @ Carolina Panthers 1:00 pm
09/24 Denver Broncos 1:00 pm
10/01 @ Atlanta Falcons 1:00 pm
10/08 @ Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 pm
10/22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1:00 pm
10/29 Oakland Raiders 1:00 pm
11/2 @ New York Jets 8:25 pm
11/12 New Orlean Saints 1:00 pm
11/19 @ San Diego Chargers 4:05 pm
11/26 @ Kansas City Chiefs 1:00 pm
12/3 New England Patriots 1:00 pm
12/10 Indianapolis Colts 1:00 pm
12/17 Miami Dolphins 1:00 pm
12/24 @ New England Patriots 1:00 pm
12/31 @ Miami Dolphins 1:00 pm

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