When Roscoe Parrish returns a punt, everyone from his teammates, the opponent and fans hold their collective breath.
Blessed with great speed and elusiveness, Parrish is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. If you don't believe it, just ask him.
"Every time I catch the ball I think I'm gone," said the Buffalo Bills' return ace. "That's what you've got to think as a punt returner. I'm gone. You can't think anything less."
Although Parrish has taken only one punt back for a touchdown, he is having one of the best seasons ever for a punt returner.
He leads the NFL with a 19.4-yard average, which would shatter the Bills' single-season record of 13.1 set by Keith Moody in 1977. Parrish also has an outside shot at the NFL mark held by Herb Rich, who averaged 23 yards on 12 punt returns for the Baltimore Colts in 1950.
Parrish is just one part of the Bills' special teams, which are gunning for a top-three finish in the NFL for a fourth consecutive year.
According to the Dallas Morning News' special teams rankings, which are regarded by NFL teams as the most accurate, the Bills were No. 1 overall in 2004 and '05. They were rated third in 2006.
Thanks to Parrish, the Bills are currently No. 1 in the NFL in team punt return average at 18.3 yards. If maintained, that would easily surpass the club mark of 11.9 in 1977. The NFL record for a season is 20.2 yards by the Chicago Bears in 1941.
Terrence McGee, who owns the club record for highest kickoff return average, is tied for fifth in the NFL with a 28.2-yard average. As a team, the Bills' 24.9-yard kickoff return average is ninth in the league.
Moorman ranks just 17th in gross punting at 43.5, but is seventh in net with a 39.0-yard average. No punter has averaged 40 net yards for an entire season since the NFL established the statistic in 1976. Moorman's tremendous hang time in addition to excellent coverage are the reason the Bills allow the fifth-lowest average on punt returns (6.5 yards). Despite allowing a touchdown return two weeks ago and having another called back by a penalty last Sunday, the Bills have been solid covering kickoffs, ranking eighth in the league (21.9 yards per return).
"We take a lot of pride in special teams," Parrish said. "We always strive to be the best."
The Bills announced that quarterback J.P. Losman will remain the starter for Sunday night's nationally televised game against the New England Patriots. Losman has helped lead the Bills (5-4) to three of their four straight wins since returning to the lineup when rookie Trent Edwards suffered a sprained right wrist against the New York Jets.
The Bills struggled to beat the winless Miami Dolphins, 13-10, last Sunday with a subpar performance by Losman. His uneven play led to speculation that Edwards would return as the starter.