Bills at Jets Game Snapshot

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET<BR> GAMEDATE: 10/10/04<BR> SURFACE: FieldTurf<BR> TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Randy Cross <BR> SERIES: 87th meeting. The Bills lead 47-39 and just 45 points separate the teams in the all-time series. Buffalo's 47 wins are the most against any opponent. <BR> 2004 RANKINGS: Bills: offense 27th (24th rush, 25th pass); defense 9th (4th rush, 18th pass). Jets: offense 10th (3rd rush, 17th pass); defense 16th (12th rush, 19th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bills have been competitive, but have played themselves out of chances to win their first three games by committing a total of 25 penalties and allowing QB Drew Bledsoe to get sacked seven times in consecutive games. With the Jets likely to increase their blitzes, the Bills need another big game out of RB Travis Henry, who has rushed for 567 yards and five touchdowns in five career games against the Jets. Buffalo's defense has kept it in games thus far, but the Bills will be without CB Troy Vincent, who will be replaced by second-year man Terrence McGee. Jets QB Chad Pennington is coming off a poor game and will surely test McGee early. But the Jets have been led by RB Curtis Martin. If he has success against the Bills' stout run defense, Pennington can take more shots downfield.

FAST FACTS: Bills: Lead the series 47-39, their most wins against any opponent. ... Are 2-11 in their past 13 road games. Jets: Martin is on pace for 453 carries this season. The NFL record is 410 by Atlanta's Jamal Anderson. ... QB Chad Pennington has 30 TD passes and no interceptions in 80 career red-zone possessions.

PREDICTION: Jets 17-16

--OG Chris Villarrial is hurting with an abdominal injury and a sore knee but has been able to practice this week and will play against the Jets on Sunday.
--OL Ross Tucker may have to start in place of injured Trey Teague (knee) on Sunday against the Jets. He's looking forward to it. "I started at left guard in this league, I've started at right guard. I'm looking forward to center. That will be the final piece for my resume," Tucker said.
--CB Terrence McGee, a second-year man from tiny Northwestern State, is probably the Bills MVP through three games. Not only does he lead the NFL in kickoff returns with a 33.4 average thanks to last week's 98-yard TD, he has 13 tackles, a sack, and three pass breakups as the team's nickel back and a team-high seven tackles on punt and kick coverage. He'll start this Sunday against the Jets in place of Troy Vincent (knee).
--WR Eric Moulds is still an elite NFL receiver but Buffalo's new possession-style offense has taken away some of his big-play ability. Moulds is averaging 12.1 yards on 20 catches, which is lower than last season's 12.2 when he played with a bad groin and the Bills ranked 30th in productivity. Since averaging 20.4 yards per catch with Doug Flutie as his quarterback in 1998, Moulds' numbers have steadily gone down.
--QB Drew Bledsoe takes a 2-11 record on the road with the Bills into Sunday's game in the Meadowlands against the Jets. He's been sacked 15 times this year and in last season's in a 30-3 loss at New York, was taken down seven times. His inability to handle hostile conditions has been a problem dating back to New England. There, Bledsoe was also 2-11 in his final 13 road trips.

--LG Pete Kendall didn't practice Thursday because of a sore right wrist, suffered the day before in practice. He is expected to play Sunday and also won't be needed to snap the ball in place of C Kevin Mawae, whose broken bone in his right hand has healed sufficiently.
--C Kevin Mawae should return to snapping the ball using his right hand full-time Sunday against the Bills. Mawae clubbed up his right hand last week to protect a broken bone in the hand, snapping with his left.
--CB Derrick Strait sustained an injury to his right foot late in practice Thursday and left early to have x-rays taken. The results weren't disclosed right away but it doesn't look like Strait will play Sunday, meaning Terrell Buckley will take over for Strait as the primary nickel back.
--CB Terrell Buckley will probably get in on more snaps this week against Buffalo because of a foot injury to Derrick Strait. Buckley had been playing at both corner positions in the nickel and dime last week and will continue to get more time if Strait is out.
--QB Chad Pennington met with his receivers after practice this week, telling them to be patient and assuring them they would be getting their fair share of catches. The two leading receivers on the Jets are running backs Curtis Martin and Jerald Sowell, with a combined 24 catches. Starters Santana Moss and Justin McCareins have just nine and eight catches, respectively, with no touchdowns. With the running game doing so well, the Jets have yet to throw 30 times in a game this season.

Defensive end Aaron Schobel is sackless in Buffalo but the fourth-year pro worry? Nah. A year ago, he had no sacks through three games and wound up with a career-high 11.5.
"We're blitzing a lot and I've dropped more (into coverage) than I have in the past, but I'm not saying that's the reason for it," Schobel said. "Sacks are hard to get when you're behind, that's for sure, but I've always said that as long I'm getting pressure - like I have - the sacks will come."
They may not come on Sunday, however, when the Bills travel to Giants Stadium to face the unbeaten New York Jets.
Quarterback Chad Pennington operates the West Coast offense that emphasizes, quick, short- to medium-range passing, as good as anybody today. He's been sacked just four times while throwing four touchdowns and only one interception in his team's 3-0 start.
The Bills, who have just four sacks as a team, entered the year knowing they'd have to blitz to create a consistent pass rush but the gambling tactic haven't paid off too well. Opposing QBs have struck deep down field for some killer big pass plays.
Schobel, as expected, has been getting a lot of double-team focus and that won't change until left defensive ends Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney, who share that position, start emerging as serious threats. Neither has a sack yet either and the two have combined for just one pressure and one QB hit.
The Bills may have to blitz less this week with veteran cornerback Troy Vincent out with a knee injury, lessening the times they leave second-year replacement Terrence McGee in single coverage. Linebackers also have to be more involved in underneath pass coverage, curtailing the times Jeff Posey will be sent at Pennington.
"When you watch a lot of film on these guys, we know where they're trying to attack the underneath coverage," coach Mike Mularkey said. "But with the pass rush, even though the ball gets out of his hands quicker, the pass rush still has to be intense and we have to keep coming at him."
The Bills did that the last time they faced Pennington, sacking him five times and holding him without a touchdown for the first time in 18 starts in a 17-6 win last December at home.
"I don't know if it's personnel, different blitzes we can use, or what," said Kelsay, who had a forced fumble and fumble recovery against the Patriots last week. "It's the coach's job to put us in those situations but then it's our job to ultimately to execute and do it. We have to be more determined to get to the quarterback maybe. We have to be relentless, do everything we can, scratch, claw. A lot of it is on our shoulders."
With 10 pressures and 11 QB hits, the Bills' overall pass rush is probably better than it looks on the surface.
"It's coming," Mularkey said. "It's closer than most people see."

The Jets have gone from being ranked 28th against the run with 143.4 yards allowed per game to 12th after three games this season, giving up just 107 rushing yards per game.
Sunday at the Meadowlands, the Jets go up against Buffalo's Travis Henry, who has a history of pummeling the Jets on the ground. In five games against the Jets, Henry has rushed for 567 yards on 117 carries (a 4.8-yard average) with five touchdowns.
In the 17-6 loss in Buffalo last December, Henry killed the Jets with 169 yards on 32 carries. But he wasn't the only one, since the Jets gave up 100-yard games to opposing running backs eight times.
"If we go back to last year, we have a score to settle with every running back we played," linebacker Victor Hobson said when asked if there would be any extra juice facing Henry again. "We weren't too good against the run last year. That has been a focus of ours all through the offseason, all through the preseason."
Opposing teams have certainly had their chances to pad their rushing stats against the Jets (3-0), who have already faced Cincinnati's Rudi Johnson (20 carries for 74 yards) and San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson (19 carries for 87 yards), but New York has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher in 2004.
"Everybody gets to the ball," said nose tackle Jason Ferguson of the Jets' effort against the run this season. "Trusting one another is a key to the defense. Being aggressive (is too), but trusting that guy is going to have his gap and this guy is going to have his gap (is most important) so that is the biggest thing this year."
In past seasons, teams would run outside against the Jets with aging veterans such as linebackers Mo Lewis and Marvin Jones to slow to catch anyone. With those two gone and the insertion of linebackers Victor Hobson and Eric Barton into starting roles as well as rookie Jonathan Vilma, the Jets are quick enough so that now they actually force running backs to the outside, where they know someone will be waiting.

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