Edwards Surprises Jets In Bills First Win

When the Bills gave Trent Edwards the nod to come out throwing against the New York Jets, the game was on. The last thing New York expected was for the rookie to be good enough to beat them by doing it. Edwards poise was evident in Buffalo's 17-14 win over New York.

The Jets understood that the Bills' coaching staff had a lot of confidence in rookie quarterback Trent Edwards. After all, the Stanford product and third-round pick was named Buffalo's backup coming out of training camp after veteran Craig Nall was cut.

But even the Jets couldn't have predicted the Bills giving Edwards the green light in a 17-14 Buffalo victory Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Buffalo's first two play calls were passes, good for completions of six and 13 yards, and nine of Buffalo's first 12 plays were passes. Edwards was on his way toward an impressive NFL starting debut as he completed 22 of 28 attempts for 234 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 98.5 passer rating playing in place of an injured J.P. Losman.

With Losman expected to miss at least one more start with a sprained knee ligament, Edwards will lead the 1-3 Bills against the undefeated Dallas Cowboys (4-0) and former Buffalo coach Wade Phillips on Monday Night Football.

"This is someone they felt very good about - I think nine of the first 12 plays were passes, so they obviously have a lot of confidence in him and he rewarded their confidence," Jets coach Eric Mangini said. "He did some good things. ... This was the first opportunity he had to get in there with a week's worth of practice, and he did a really nice job of managing the game."

Game management has been a big problem for the Bills under Losman, who expressed frustration in coordinator Steve Fairchild's early game plans and said the team should go for broke with a more wide-open attack.

But Edwards, looking like anything but a rookie, executed a game plan heavy on short- to medium-range throws against the Jets' 28th-ranked defense as the Bills rolled up a season-high 304 yards. More important, they controlled the clock for a season-best 32:16, allowing a battered defense missing 11 players to be fresh for the fourth quarter.

That defense intercepted Jets quarterback Chad Pennington twice in the final 15 minutes, once by Jabari Greer to set up a one-yard Edwards' touchdown pass to Michael Gaines, then once by Terrence McGee with :06 left that sealed the win when the Jets were driving for a shot at the game-tying field goal.

"It was a long week of practice," Edwards said. "Mentally and physically, it was a lot harder than anything I've ever been through in football. For all the hard work and extra hours I put in from being the guy that was going to start, it was something that was very, very enjoyable after the game. We had some tough losses during my career in college (at Stanford) but this one definitely outweighs all of that."

If Edwards has another solid performance on the big stage against the Cowboys, the stage will be set for a full-blown quarterback controversy in Buffalo. Coach Dick Jauron left the door open by saying he would play the best player.

Edwards, who appears to have a superior release to Losman's and is a tad quicker making decisions, found just six different receivers. But he was able to get a struggling Lee Evans (six catches, 72 yards) involved early and tight ends Robert Royal and Gaines combined for seven catches for 51 yards. The tight end has been virtually ignored for two seasons in Buffalo.

"I think his play speaks for itself," said wide receiver Josh Reed when asked about Edwards. "The whole team went out there confident when he was in the huddle. He played like we expected him to."

No doubt the Cowboys know what to expect, too.

Notes:

--QB Trent Edwards became the first Bills rookie to win his first start since Joe Ferguson in 1973, beating the New York Jets 17-14. He was 22 of 28 for 234 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 98.5 rating.
--RB Marshawn Lynch scored his third touchdown of the season on a strong 10-yard run in the third quarter. He finished with 79 yards on 23 carries.
--CB Jabari Greer, a fourth-year pro, made his first career NFL interception a big one. His theft of Chad Pennington along the sideline early in the fourth quarter set up Buffalo's winning touchdown.
--CB Ashton Youboty, who was starting for veteran Jason Webster, who was lost for the year with a broken arm, suffered an ankle injury late in the first quarter and did not return. He spent the second half riding a stationary bike on the sideline and could've returned if needed.
--FS Jim Leonhard injured his left calf on the game's final drive and could be out awhile. His leg was heavily wrapped and he claimed he heard something "pop." The third-year pro was already backing up Ko Simpson, who is out for the year with a broken ankle.


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