Inside Bills Report: Game 7

The word came down from the very top, and the Bills heeded the wishes of their owner, Ralph Wilson. Wilson was openly critical of his team's performance in the 30-3 loss to the Jets in New York Oct. 12. He questioned the Bills' enthusiasm and said that they "sleepwalked" during the game. He wasn't far off base. Wilson celebrated his 86th birthday last Friday, and his players vowed to make it a happy weekend for him.


"They said they'd give me a birthday present, and I said it just so happens I've got a few more birthdays coming up," Wilson said after the Bills routed Washington 24-7.

In other words, if his team gets that fired up at the mention of his birthday, he'll celebrate it every week if he has to. The victory was nice, but what Wilson appreciated most of all was the effort the Bills put forth.

"They really hustled today, everybody could see it," Wilson said. "In this league it's too tough to win if you just go through the motions. Any team would have had a hard time beating the Bills today because they played with so much emotion. They kept swinging." The Bills have been seemingly without passion ever since their red-hot 2-0 start. They were outplayed by Miami on the road and by a struggling Philadelphia team in Week 4 at home. They barely survived the Bengals in overtime, then played as if they were in a collective coma against the Jets. In the Washington game, the Bills took Wilson's criticism to heart.

"I think so," cornerback Antoine Winfield said when asked if the team was going through a confidence crisis. "I think it started in the second half of the Miami game. After that, the last three or four games, we've just been in a lull. This game got us back on track." Perhaps in the nick of time because up next are the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium, one of the most difficult road venues to play at. "They couldn't wait to play today," coach Gregg Williams said after the Washington game. "I think they felt a sense of urgency, they understood that. Last week was out of their mind and this week was all that was on their mind."

To which quarterback Drew Bledsoe concurred. "I'll tell you exactly where we are. When we play to the level that we expect to, then we are going to be competitive against anybody. But when we make mistakes and hurt ourselves, then we're not going to be competitive against anybody. The bottom line is we had a good week of practice this last week. We had good attention to detail, we were very focused and we came out and showed it on the field. That's how we have to approach it, it can't just be there on Sunday, it has to be there Monday through Friday as well."

  • CB Antoine Winfield had another big game. He shut down Laveranues Coles, holding him to three catches for 58 yards, and he deflected two passes including one in the end zone to save a touchdown. He also made a touchdown saving tackle on a pass to Coles at the goal line, and on the next play SS Lawyer Milloy recovered a fumble to kill Washington's threat.
  • DT Sam Adams returned to the lineup after missing a game with a sprained ankle, though his productivity was limited and he was not credited with a tackle. Adams and fellow DT Pat Williams helped limit the Redskins to 56 yards rushing.
  • OT Mike Williams left the Washington game in the second quarter with a neck strain and did not return to play, but the injury wasn't serious and coach Gregg Williams said he could have come back in the game if he was needed.
  • QB Drew Bledsoe had an efficient 244-yard passing day, though he did throw a sloppy interception late in the first half that cost the Bills an opportunity to kick a field goal. Bledsoe completed 19 of 26 passes and he utilized a short to intermediate approach without the aide of deep threat Eric Moulds.
  • KR Antonio Brown continues to struggle in his rookie season. He had six punt returns and averaged just 2.2 yards. He is ranked last in the league among regular punt returners.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "You don't want to put a lot of emphasis on do or die, but we had to come out and perform, especially at home. We hated the bad feeling we had at the end of last week's game, and we applied ourselves in practice every day and it showed today. It was a tremendous effort." -- LB Takeo Spikes on the urgency to win the game.

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