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Bills fall apart at the seams
Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, the roof caved in.
by Rick Anderson, webmaster of Bills Thunder
October 7, 2001

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the roof caved in on the Buffalo Bills Sunday when they lost to the New York Jets 42-36. The score isn't an indication on how sloppy the Bills played. Four costly turnovers all led to Jet touchdowns and the Bills' tendency to lose the ball at the worst possible times is concerning to say the least.

Bumbling, stumbling, fumbling are perfect words for the Bills these days and they lived up to it Sunday before a cold, wind-blown crowd in Ralph Wilson Stadium. This is the worst Bills start since 1985, when they lost their first 6 games. The way things are going for the Bills, they may be hard pressed to win one game this season.

To make matters worse, Bills beleaguered quarterback Rob Johnson was injured when he was hit from behind by Jets' Mo Lewis. Lewis hit Johnson late with an elbow to the back of Johnson's head after Johnson had scrambled with the ball. It was a blatant hit and will be reviewed by the league which is trying to crack down on those kind of hits on quarterbacks. A stiff fine and maybe even a suspension is in order for Lewis.

"I'm running behind him and he's trying to slide," explained Lewis. "It seems like he popped back up. I can't stop on a dime. I still have to touch him. I just hustle to the ball and make a play."

"You give a guy a free shot," Johnson countered. "You're giving yourself up for a couple of yards. You are not supposed to be hit."

Johnson had to be helped off the field after laying prone for several minutes. It capped one of the worst first quarters in recent Bills history.

After three quick turnovers, the Jets were up 21-6 less than 12 minutes into the game. The Jets took a 28-9 lead and it appeared as if the Bills were running for the bus before Alex Van Pelt came in and started to finally get the Bills offense clicking for the first time all year. Van Pelt, who threw 41 passes for 268 yards on 23 completions, looked like he may stage a miraculous comeback similar to the one Frank Reich pulled off in the Wild Card game against the Houston Oilers in 1993.

Van Pelt hooked up with Peerless Price on a 70-yard touchdown scamper early in the third quarter to make it 28-22. The Jets struck back later in the third quarter. Vinny Testaverde hit Anthony Becht's from 2-yards out and then Larry Centers fumbled when the ball was stripped from him and Lewis picked it up and scampered 15 yards for the TD. In a minute 4 seconds, the Jets had caused major damage to any comeback hopes the Bills had.

"We talk about momentum switches," Moulds said. "We thought we had a chance to make some plays and they come back and make a play and switch the momentum around. It just went downhill from there."

The Bills defense, which was No. 3 last year and No. 1 in the league the year before, has become the laughing stock of the NFL. Curtis Martin shredded the Bills defense for 135 yards on 26 carries and scored two touchdowns. Meanwhile, veteran quarterback Testaverde connected 14 times on 23 passes for 174 yards and 2 strikes.

The 42 points scored against the Bills in Buffalo were the most since the strike-shortened 1987 season when the Indianapolis Colts piled up 47 on Buffalo.

Bills coach Gregg Williams has seen his share of misfortunes this season with all the injuries and some discord in the locker room. However, he is not ready to wave the white flag yet.

"We have to rally as a team," said Bills coach Gregg Williams, "and start our own streak of wins, and do our part as a team, to have an opportunity to win as a team, and enough energy to win as a team. One or two individuals can't win a game for you, I think we have to do it as a team, and if some of our bumps and bruises, we have to rally as a team to do that."

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