Ravens respect the Bills

OWINGS MILLS - The Baltimore Ravens' thumbnail scouting report on Buffalo isn't quite a Lou Holtz special, but it does acknowledge a toughness that belies the Bills' record. <br><br> Buffalo (1-4) is still ranked at the bottom of most NFL power rankings despite the first win of the Mike Mularkey era with a 20-13 win over the hapless, winless Miami Dolphins last week. However, the Bills' roster is dotted with talent and features a formidable running tandem with Willis McGahee and Travis Henry.

The Bills have lost games to the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-2), Oakland Raiders (2-4), New England Patriots (5-0) and the New York Jets (5-0). Three of those losses, including a 13-10 defeat to Jacksonville and a 16-14 loss to the Jets, were by a total of eight points.

"They are a good football team," said Ravens coach Brian Billick, whose team is favored by six points for Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium. "To sit here and say that as a coach, I sound like any other coach trying to overemphasize how good the opponent is. That's not the case.

"All you have to do is look at the combined record of who they lost to, how close those games were, literally, the last plays of the game, a jump ball, a play that really shouldn't have happened in a couple of instances."

McGahee rushed for a career-high 111 yards on 26 carries last week, and might start if Henry's foot injury doesn't improve.
McGahee was inactive as a rookie while recovering from a major knee injury suffered at the University of Miami. He tore his anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in the Fiesta Bowl.

Now, the 6-foot, 228-pound runner is beginning to regain his form that allowed him to rush for 2,067 yards and 31 touchdowns in 27 college games.

"It felt good because I had been waiting to get out there and show them what I could do," McGahee said. "I didn't give up and everything fell into place for me."

Defensively, Buffalo ranks eighth in yards allowed (298) and is only allowing 17.2 points per contest behind standout linebackers Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher.

Meanwhile, Buffalo sports experience at quarterback with Drew Bledsoe, a 12-year veteran with 37,883 career yards and 207 touchdown passes. Extremely immobile, Bledsoe has already been sacked 20 times.

"You let him sit in a pure, sit-in-the-zone, scale game and he will tear you apart, limb my limb, so you've got to put pressure on him," Billick said. "You've got to throw off the timing."

Wide receiver Eric Moulds is strong and fast, and leads Buffalo with 31 receptions for 395 yards and three touchdowns.

"Eric Moulds is one of the top receivers in the league,"
cornerback Chris McAlister said. "He's a big, physical guy.

Drew Bledsoe has a strong arm. He can throw the football 60, 70 yards down the field. We always have to be aware of that."

NOTES: Ravens wide receiver Travis Taylor (groin) was upgraded from questionable to probable on the injury report. There were no other changes for either team. … Tight end Todd Heap (sprained ankle) didn't practice and remains doubtful for Sunday's game. … When Musa Smith relieves starting running back Chester Taylor on Sunday, it won't be as the third-down back. Smith will generally substitute for Taylor for entire series throughout the game. "We have different packages where Musa is the lead back, and we'll try to get a rotation that way," Billick said. Smith hasn't carried the ball this season…Former Baltimore defensive tackle Sam Adams is starting again after being benched last week. Adams tossed his helmet twice and refused to leave the huddle once. "What I was pulled for was a family affair, and we keep those things in-house," Adams told reporters. "It had nothing to do with my performance or playing time, period."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times and ravensinsider.com

 


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