PHOTO: New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington walks off the field as official scramble to make a ruling on play. Pennington had a difficult time holding on to the ball with 6 recorded fumbles in the game. (AP Photo)
Week 1 Review: Around
the AFC East
By Scout.com Staff
Last season, the Bills scored 28 touchdowns on 60 trips inside the red zone, a conversion rate of 46.7 percent.
Coach Mike Mularkey has set a goal of improving that number, particularly after his team went 1-for-5 against the Houston Texans last Sunday. On the positive side, the Bills came away with points all five times (1 TD, 4 field goals).
"When you're in the red zone, you definitely have to get seven," wide receiver Lee Evans said after the Bills' 22-7 victory. "We did come away with points, fortunately, but for as many times as we were down there, we have to score more touchdowns to be a more effective offense."
Self-inflicted wounds were a big reason for Buffalo's failure to put the ball across the goal line four of their five times inside the Texans' 20-yard line.
On three occasions, the Bills were flagged for penalties (holding, false start, intentional grounding). Each flag pushed the Bills farther back and affected the play-calling.
A disappointed Mularkey said his team has to understand better that there's no margin for error down near the opponent's goal line and expects his players to do much better in that department Sunday at Tampa Bay.
--QB J.P. Losman, who passed for 170 yards and a touchdown against Houston last Sunday, also rushed six times for 31 yards, including a long run of 19. That was the most yards rushing by a Bills quarterback since Rob Johnson gained 67 against San Diego in 2001.
--QB Kelly Holcomb, who wrapped up a very steady preseason by going 9 of 10 for 88 yards and leading the team's only TD drive in a preseason loss to Detroit, was the Bills No. 2 QB against Houston but did not play.
--RB Willis McGahee posted his eighth 100-yard game in last Sunday's season opener against Houston. It marked only the eighth time in 46 Bills openers that a running back topped 100 yards.
--RB Shaud Williams has officially emerged as the club's No. 2 ball carrier. He backed up Willis McGahee in the season opener against Houston with seven carries for 14 yards and also got a lot of third-down work, catching two screen passes for 11 yards.
--WR Eric Moulds, who had four catches for 40 yards against Houston, is expected to become more of a threat in the red zone for Buffalo. The Bills scored only one TD five trips inside the Houston 20.
--WR Lee Evans, who had three catches for 68 yards against the Texans last Sunday, produced first downs on all three of his receptions. Last year, 41 of his 51 catches (80.4 percent) resulted in moving the chains.
--WR Josh Reed's lone reception for 6 yards against Houston was QB J.P. Losman's first official completion. He went to Reed a couple other occasions but the two failed to hook up.
--TE Mark Campbell caught two passes for 11 yards against Houston, including an 11-yarder.
--TE Tim Euhus missed Sunday's regular-season opener against Houston with a strained pectoral muscle. His status is questionable for Tampa Bay.
--PK Rian Lindell has now connected on 46 of 57 career field goal attempts for Buffalo after Sunday's 5-for-5 performance. His .807 percentage is a club record (minimum 50 attempts).
--LB London Fletcher had a team-best 10 tackles with one fumble recovery against Houston, and made several nice plays against screen passes.
--DE Aaron Schobel's two sacks against Houston gave him 36.5 for his career, which ranks seventh in Bills history.
--LB Takeo Spikes had a sack and forced fumble against Houston, coming around from the back side to strip David Carr of the ball as he attempted to pass. The Bills are 5-1 when Spikes has a sack and 5-0 when he forces a fumble. He has 13 forced fumbles in his career.
After 16 NFL seasons, defensive tackle Keith Traylor doesn't try to pretend he's something he's not.
"A lot of guys don't like to do that," said Traylor, referring to his role as a run-stuffing interior lineman. "It's my job and has been my job. When they tell you to recognize where you fit, I know where I fit. I'm a plug. That's what they have me doing."
Traylor did his job to perfection in last Sunday's 34-10 victory over Denver. Not only did he register three tackles while clogging the middle of Denver's offensive line, Traylor's presence also helped middle linebacker Zach Thomas spring free for a team-high 14 tackles.
"He's huge," Thomas said of the 340-pound Traylor. "I mean, I can't even see the center when he's up over the center. But he does a great job and makes us look better."
Following Traylor's release from New England, the Dolphins signed him in May because of injuries suffered in 2004 by wide-bodied defensive tackles Tim Bowens (back) and Larry Chester (knee). Bowens was released in June and is expected to retire, while Chester was released off the physically unable to perform list earlier this month.
So far, Traylor has lived up to expectations. Denver's respected rushing attack generated just 70 yards on 20 carries and struggled near the goal line.
"That's the way you've got to think as a D-lineman," said Traylor, who helped spearhead a goal-line stand in the second quarter. "You don't want to give up anything down there."
--QB Gus Frerotte flourished in last Sunday's 34-10 victory over Denver after a rough preseason, completing 24 of 36 passes for 275 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Frerotte had his right hand in a protective brace Monday but said x-rays were negative.
--RB Ronnie Brown enjoyed a solid first outing against Denver, rushing for 57 yards on 22 carries. Brown also did a solid job in blitz pickup, which helped Frerotte from getting sacked.
--RB Sammy Morris did a nice job in a backup role playing both tailback and fullback against Denver. He also scored on a nine-yard run.
--WR Chris Chambers accounted for 101 combined yards against the Broncos. That included a 61-yard gain on a reverse that marked the longest rush in Chambers' four-plus NFL seasons.
--WR Marty Booker enjoyed his best game since joining the Dolphins last season against Denver, catching five passes for 104 yards. That included a 60-yard touchdown catch that helped Miami ice the game by extending the Dolphins' lead to 27-10 with 9:09 remaining in the game.
--TE Randy McMichael got off to a good start in trying to best his franchise-record receiving totals for a tight end in 2004, catching a team-high six passes for 55 yards and one touchdown against Denver.
--K Olindo Mare made both of his field goal attempts against Denver and also registered a touchback on one of his six kickoffs.
--SS Tebucky Jones contributed in two areas against Denver, logging eight tackles on defense and three more on special teams.
--DT Keith Traylor had proven himself a load in the middle of the Dolphins' defense, registering three tackles and helping to limit Denver to 70 rushing yards on 20 carries.
--CB Sam Madison did an outstanding job in coverage and run support against Denver, finishing with two tackles and two passes defensed.
Coach Herman Edwards joked in training camp during defensive end John Abraham's holdout that the Pro Bowler could get out of bed and sack the quarterback, not worrying too much about how much time Abraham missed in the preseason.
Well Abraham lasted 34 snaps against the Chiefs in the season opener, playing longer than even he thought he would go, registering two tackles and a sack. Abraham nearly got a second sack and got good pressure on the quarterback during his time on the field.
"I felt pretty good, I felt like my old self," Abraham said. "I really wasn't trying to go out and get sacks per se. I was just trying to go out and be my same self. If me getting off the ball and after the quarterback is what I do, that's what I do. My main goal was trying to see how many snaps I could go in the game. All in all I played somewhat John Abraham-style."
In fact, Abraham and defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson got into a heated discussion on the sideline during the second half because Abraham wanted to get in more than he was, considering the Chiefs were passing on first and second downs when Bryan Thomas was on the field.
"He didn't know if I was ready and I didn't know if he was ready to have me in there," Abraham said of the argument.
Abraham, however, isn't ready to start, saying he's unable to go 60 plays just yet. The Jets will start Thomas against the Dolphins this week and keep bringing Abraham in during passing situations and increase his load of plays, probably to around 40 or so.
--QB Chad Pennington completed 21 of 34 passes for 264 yards but failed to lead the Jets to a single score in five trips into Chiefs territory, including three red zone trips. Pennington and center Kevin Mawae struggled with the shotgun snap as well, which the Jets scrapped at halftime but are committed to using.
--QB Jay Fiedler completed 6 of 10 passes in relief of Chad Pennington on Sunday, leading the Jets to their only score of the game in the final minute. He certainly won't be replacing Pennington anytime soon.
--RB Curtis Martin rushed for just 57 yards on 20 carries as the running game got off to a slow start and the Jets were forced to scrap the ground game after going down 17-0 early. The Jets are committed to giving Martin enough work early so he can get into the flow of the offense. Look for his carries to increase next week against the Dolphins.
--RB Derrick Blaylock didn't get a carry Sunday against the Chiefs as the Jets dropped the running game after falling behind. The Jets have talked about Blaylock getting 10 carries a game and that may start Sunday against the Dolphins.
--WR Laveranues Coles had a poor return to the Jets, with six catches for 66 yards but no touchdowns and several drops. Coles felt so bad about the performance that he sought out Pennington after the game in the locker room to apologize.
--WR Justin McCareins caught three passes for 39 yards against the Chiefs and remains a solid No. 2 receiver for the Jets.
--WR Wayne Chrebet caught three passes for 33 yards and will continue to be utilized over the middle as the Jets' possession receiver.
--TE Chris Baker had his best game as a Jet in his first game as a starter, making seven catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. A lot of the yardage and the score was token, coming at the end of the game, but the performance allowed Baker to assert himself as the starter. The Jets have always liked his pass-catching skills, it's his run blocking that was a concern.
--PK Mike Nugent had a rough debut, slipping on his first field goal attempt - a 28-yarder that was blocked. It's not going to stop the Jets from trusting him with big kicks, which is why they drafted him in the first place.
--DE John Abraham lasted 34 snaps but by his own admission isn't in good enough shape to start yet. He was very effective against the Chiefs, getting one sack and almost recording another while getting decent pressure on Trent Green all game.
--CB Ty Law played the entire game and made a key interception to prevent at least a field goal as the Chiefs drove in the Jets' red zone. Law finished with three tackles and a pass defended.
--SS Kerry Rhodes made a team-leading 10 tackles against the Chiefs and handled tight end Tony Gonzalez well. He did, however, have some trouble adjusting to the switches the Chiefs made in the running game. They rushed for 198 yards.
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