The Buffalo Bills knew they would have to play backup quarterback J.P. Losman at some point this season. They just didn't want it to be this soon.
With Trent Edwards going down with a concussion after just three plays, Losman was back at the helm of the Bills' offense. But after providing an early spark, he couldn't keep up the pace as the Bills were trounced by the Arizona Cardinals, 41-17.
"I just try to mentally prepare every game like I'm going to go in," said Losman, who completed 15 of 21 passes for 220 yards, one touchdown and one interception. "Today I was put to that test, and quite early, too, which was unexpected. That's my job right now.
"It's a great stepping stone for me personally to learn how it is, to get in there quite early and try to keep everything under control and try to lead the guys down the field."
Bills offensive coordinator Turk Schonert admitted that it wasn't the ideal situation for Losman to come into the game, but that's the life of a backup quarterback.
"I've been there. That used to be my job," said Schonert, a career backup in the NFL. "He was ready. He was prepared. He studies hard. I don't care how many years you've got in this league, the first time you play for a while, the game is 100 miles an hour and you're going to miss some things. And he missed some things, but he also made some nice plays."
Not that Schonert is psychic or anything, but he said that Losman got more snaps in practice last week.
"I got a whopping two," Losman said amid laughter when asked how many reps he received. "One was a handoff. It wasn't even an audible handoff. Actually it did help. Even those two reps that I did get in there, for everyone to hear my voice, to view it from the No. 1 offensive line, just the height difference, the width difference and just seeing everything from my peripheral, it helped out."
Losman's day got off to a shaky start. Two plays after replacing Edwards, Losman fumbled a handoff to running back Marshawn Lynch. The turnover set up the Cardinals' first touchdown. The Bills' second possession under Losman ended in a sack and punt and was followed by another Arizona touchdown.
But Losman got the offense going early in the second quarter when he delivered a perfect deep ball to wide receiver Lee Evans, who completed the 87-yard touchdown pass. Losman marched the Bills downfield again the next time he had the ball and finished the drive by scoring on a quarterback draw.
"It's tough, but I'm not thinking about that when I go on the field," Losman said of entering the game after Edwards got hurt. "It's like here's my chance, it's an opportunity for me to show my teammates that I do prepare myself. Not just that, we're trying to win a ballgame. That is all that is on my mind at the time."
Unfortunately for the Bills, that second-quarter burst was about all they would get from their Losman-led offense. After scoring a field goal on the first second-half possession, three of their next four drives ended in a turnover, two by Losman.
Losman also got knocked around, getting sacked five times by a surprisingly ferocious Cardinals pass rush.
"[Losing your starting quarterback] makes it tough," Evans said. "But we've got a tremendous amount of confidence in J.P. . . . We just didn't play well offensively."