Bills Find Good, Bad, & Ugly in 14-13 Loss

The Buffalo Bills opened their 2006 preseason schedule against the Carolina Panthers in ugly fashion. Offense, defense, and even special teams got off to a rocky start before rallying midway through the second quarter.

The Buffalo Bills opened their 2006 preseason schedule against the Carolina Panthers in ugly fashion. Offense, defense, and even special teams got off to a rocky start before rallying midway through the second quarter.

It took the Bills offense their first six offensive drives to gain their first first down. Holcomb, who got the start, completed 2 of 4 passes for 16 yards and one interception, a poorly thrown ball that Ken Lucas returned 23 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter to give Carolina a 14-0 lead. On four total drives engineered by the starting Holcomb, the Bills gained a mere 12 yards on 12 offensive plays. They gave up one sack, one turnover for a touchdown, and negated their only first down with a holding penalty. Holcomb finished the evening 2-4 for 16 yards. After his interception, Holcomb played one more series, a quick three and out, before giving way to Losman.

"I read the coverage wrong. I thought I had something I didn't have," Holcomb said. "I'm disappointed, I wanted to play better. It just didn't seem like I could get in a rhythm."

On defense the Bills opened the game unable to contain the Panthers starting unit. Keyshawn Johnson, in his first game with Carolina, caught an 18-yard pass from Jake Delhomme on the first play from scrimmage, the beginning of a game-opening touchdown drive. Delhomme hit Johnson twice for 27 yards on the opening series, then threw a 14-yard scoring pass to Drew Carter as Pro Bowl Panther Steve Smith watched from the sideline with a strained left hamstring. Delhomme completed 5 of 6 passes for 64 yards on the drive.

Jauron was not pleased with his team's defensive effort in the first quarter. "Defensively the first series was very disappointing. It certainly happens in the regular season. It happens to great teams, but we felt pretty good coming in. We felt confident. Maybe our players were anticipating the beginning of this defense too much. Maybe they were trying too hard, I don't know. The first series was not a good one against a good offensive football team. When they settled down they did a nice job."

"Obviously Kelly had a rough night," coach Dick Jauron said. "It was a sloppy start for us. The beginning of the game wasn't anything like we wanted to have happen."

"Obviously it was a sloppy start for us. The beginning of the game wasn't anything like we wanted to happen, not unlike a lot of exhibitions. We were careless with the ball and when you give up a defensive touchdown it's never a positive thing. Call it a good lesson for our team though because it's what we talk to them about. You can't turn it over offensively and if you turn it over defensively good things happen."

"You're always bothered particularly when it turns into a touchdown. The defense has no chance to make a stop or make them kick a field goal. It's not what you want. You can't win in the National Football League unless you are consistent and you're making the right decisions consistently at any position. But at quarterback it's compounded all the time. He had a tough start."

The highly capable Buffalo special teams even struggled. Pro Bowl punter Brian Moorman had his second kick blocked on the Bills second drive of the game.

The Bills began to turn their fortunes around in the second quarter. Losman took over early in the second quarter and started with three straight incompletions. But he settled down and got into a rhythm in the second half against the Panthers' second and third strings.

Losman replaced struggling starter Kelly Holcomb to open the second quarter, shook off a slow start of his own, and led the Bills on three consecutive scoring drives against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night in the NFL preseason opener for both teams at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

Unfortunately for the Bills, their comeback from a 14-0 deficit fell short, 14-13, to spoil Jauron's debut.

On his second series he got away from trouble and dumped a pass off to fullback Alan Ricard. The defense was offsides which put them in a good down and distance situation. But he got hit with a delay of game penalty on 3rd-and-2. It put them in a 3rd-and-7. Losman did a nice job of eluding pressure again, but good coverage prevented a completion to Price.

Losman threw another underthrown pass on a 3rd-and-7 pass on the following possession forcing Buffalo to punt again. He was sacked on the next possession on first down when he held onto the ball too long. But he followed it up with a trio of good completions to Roscoe Parrish, Josh Reed and Andre Davis. It ultimately led to a Rian Lindell field goal to get Buffalo on the board.

The Bills defense asserted themselves after the half and set up Bufflao's only touchdown of the game. Bills LB Josh Stamer, filling in for a recovering Takeo Spikes, forced a fumble that was recovered by Courtney Watson giving Losman and company a drive start at the Panther 47 yard line.

Running back Lionel Gates, who didn't play a down for the Bills last season, capped a 6 play, 47 yard drive with acrobatic touchdown early in the third quarter. An 18-yard Losman scramble and a nine-yard completion to Kevin Everrett on third down set up a first-and-goal. Running back Lionel Gates (eight carries, 31 yards) then scored after being spun around and breaking the plane of the goal-line falling backward. Gates was sandwiched by Nate Salley and Keith Adams and did a complete 360 in the air, but came back down on his feet at the two-yard line. He then broke Jermaine Hardy 's tackle to get into the end zone.

Late in the third quarter Losman went 4-5 on the drive that resulted in a 45-yard Lindell field goal to pull Buffalo to within one of Carolina (14-13). But he also took a pair of sacks on the possession.

Buffalo got the ball back with 3:08 to play but Jauron replaced Losman, who had logged eight series of work to that point, with third-stringer Cliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury's attempt at the winning drive ended near midfield with 1:15 left.

"It was nice to see our group come back, play hard, and make some plays," Jauron told reporters after the game. "We would've liked to have done better early on, but we'll go back to work. We've got a lot of tape on guys now and that was good."


Bills first-round pick Donte Whitner, who began practicing with the team Aug. 7 after an eight-day holdout, led the team in tackles with 4 solo and 1 assist. Five Bills weresecond with three each.

Matt Bowen, who started ahead of Whitner at strong safety, injured his right leg early in the second quarter. X-rays were negative.

Ryan Denney had the Bills only sack of the game

Courtney Watson and Ko Simpson had fumble recoveries.

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