Posted: Tuesday September 15, 2009 1:01AM;
Updated: Tuesday September 15, 2009 1:54AM
Andrew Perloff T.O. makes no waves after tepid Bills debut
Terrell Owens caught two balls for 46 yards -- the fourth-best output amongst Bills pass-catchers.
FOXBORO, Mass. -- On the scale of Terrell Owens' postgame meltdowns, Monday night's postgame media snub doesn't even register. It was actually appropriate, considering all the Bills were heartbroken after they blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead in a 25-24 loss to the Pats. But if Owens was disappointed with just two catches, he better get used to it, because Buffalo isn't likely to change much after almost pulling off the win with a nearly perfect offensive gameplan.
New Bills offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt made life as easy as possible for an offensive line with three players who had never started an NFL game. They focused on short passes and running the ball, and when they did send guys long, quarterback Trent Edwards almost always had a viable safety valve. Edwards said that was a function of what the Patriots were giving them.
"Give a lot of credit to their defense," Edwards said. "Those guys are sitting back there pretty deep, and a lot of times we're going to look to the interior guys. We knew they were going to take away Lee [Evans] and Terrell. It's a chance for the interior guys to try to take advantage."
Edwards has taken a lot of flack for checking down too quickly in the past. He was quick to abandon his downfield reads on Monday night. He threw only three or four balls that traveled more than 20 yards in the air. That worked well against a New England defense that did not look disciplined or speedy against screen passes. Will those passes work against a defense that game plans for them? It's hard to imagine that New England's Bill Belichick won't figure out an adjustment after getting a hold of some videotape.
In his limited touches, Owens looked like the player we're used to -- one bad drop, two athletic downfield plays and one offensive interference that the officials could have overlooked. The interference was very typical T.O. -- shoving cornerback Darius Butler to the ground like he was swatting a fly -- reminding us he's physically superior to most players covering him.
Edwards said he's going to go back to the film and see if there are any opportunities he should have looked Owens' way. If the young quarterback means that, he'll probably have to hang in the pocket a little longer and be willing to take some hits, like New England's Tom Brady did on Monday to get the ball to Randy Moss.
The Bills were downtrodden after the loss, but certainly have a reason to be hopeful. Everyone expected a blowout and they were a fumbled-kickoff return away from the win. The offensive line, which was a national joke after they cut left tackle Langston Walker last week, was a big surprise. Second-year left tackle Demetrius Bell and rookie guards Eric Wood and Andy Levitre performed surprisingly well in their first starts. You could see the offense grow more confident as the game continued and a 62-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter was nearly perfect.
Now that the coaching staff knows this offensive line can play, they need to start seriously working on incorporating Owens and Evans. Even though T.O. will probably say the right things later this week, we all know his good behavior has a time limit.
The Bills players had a well-rehearsed stock answer on Owens after the game, good for any meltdown that might come their way.
"He's a competitor," Evans said. "Having a guy like that in the locker room and on the field with us ... frustrated or not, he still raises the level of our game. We need to feed off of that. He's obviously a big-time weapon in our offense and we need to get him the ball."
Everyone in Buffalo knows the good and the bad that comes with T.O. Even though he barely touched the ball on Monday, he made the Bills a better team. Keep a close eye and we'll see if that's enough to keep him content -- if the offense doesn't get more vertical in the coming weeks.
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