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BILLS' ROCKY ROAD STRETCH HAS NOT YET MADE HISTORY

Question: At 2-14 over their last 16 road games, is this the worst road stretch in team history? - Gerry Prentice, New York.

Answer: No and yes. The Bills lost 22 in a row on the road from the end of the 1983 season to the middle of the 1986 season. That included going 0-16 on the road in '84 and '85.

However, the offense in '84 and '85 was slightly more productive on the road than the Bills have been the past 16 games.

The Bills have averaged 11.9 points a game on the road the past 16 games, dating to a loss in Kansas City in 2002. They have averaged 249 yards a game in offense.

In '84 and '85, the Bills averaged 12.3 points a game and gained an average of 266 yards a game. That was with Joe Ferguson, Vince Ferragamo, Bruce Mathison and Joe Dufek sharing the quarterback duties. Greg Bell was the lead running back. Byron Franklin, Bell and Tony Hunter were the leading receivers in '84. Bell, Andre Reed and Jerry Butler were the top receivers in '85.

The Bills' three lowest yardage totals in their current skid are 118 last year at Miami, 125 Sunday night in New England and 160 at Baltimore four weeks ago. Those are lower totals than they had in any road games in '84 and '85.

Q: The Giants are no model team this year, but they have a better record than Buffalo thus far and a better chance at making a playoff run. They are starting the future of their team (Eli Manning) this weekend. The Bears are starting a rookie QB. So are the Steelers. You could say that those teams had no one else to turn to, but do the Bills? Why do the Giants, Steelers and the Bears have the nerve to make a move like this and Buffalo doesn't? - Jim Hastings, New York.

A: Mike Mularkey's answer is he's not ready to pull the plug on Drew Bledsoe because they're not eliminated from the playoff race, and Bledsoe directed wins in three of the last five games. The one difference between the Bills' situation and that of the Giants is Manning has been practicing fully with the team all year. J.P Losman had only a handful of snaps with the Bills' offense the previous two weeks. He has worked almost solely with the scout team the previous four weeks. So Losman has had less preparation than Manning. Right or wrong, Mularkey isn't comfortable yet with throwing Losman into the deep end of the pool. "You don't want to put him in a situation where it's a negative in his development," he said.

Q: Are drop kicks still legal? If so, do they have to be behind the line of scrimmage? -- Gene Wardzinski, Buffalo.

A: Yes, they're legal. The field-goal rule (Rule 11, Section 5, Article 1) reads: "the kick must be a place kick or drop kick made by the offense from behind the line of scrimmage or from the spot of a fair catch."

I've seen Doug Flutie boot drop kicks through the goal posts goofing around after practices. The last successful drop kick for a field goal in the NFL was made by Detroit's "Dutch" Clark in 1938. Chicago's Ray "Scooter" McLean holds the distinction of being the last player to drop kick for a score in an NFL game. He booted an extra point in the 1941 NFL Championship Game, which the Bears won, 37-9.
Bills beat reporter Mark Gaughan answers your football questions every Friday. Send your e-mails to mgaughan@buffnews.com or mail to Question Mark, The Buffalo News Sports Department, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY 14240.

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