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MONDAY BILLBOARD

Big Picture: - The Bills had their best chance to win so far this season, and they blew it. All together now, They Blew It. With an 0-3 record, the Bills are off to their worst start since 1985 when they lost their first six games under Kay Stephen son, who was fired after four, and Hank Bullough. Remember Hank? He took the sails out of our wind. Play of the Game: - Tony Banks' touchdown run with 11 seconds remaining was obviously the biggest. But the one that provided life for the Rams was Banks' 34-yard completion to wide receiver Ricky Proehl, putting them in scoring position with the clock winding down.

Four Plays and In: - The Bills defense allowed the Rams to drive 98 yards in three plays for their first touchdown. Here's the drive from the St. Louis 2-yard line: Greg Hill runs off tackle for 46 yards, Rams delay of game, Banks to Ed die Kennison for 45 yards, Hill off tackle for 12-yard TD. Talk about blown assignments. Hit of the Day I: - Linebacker Eric Hill drilled Rob Johnson on a quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter, leaving the Bills starter dazed. At least he wasn't con fused, like Buffalo's defense was in the second half. Hit of the Day II: - London Fletcher nailed Darick Holmes on a punt return early in the fourth quarter. Holmes never saw Fletcher coming and looked like a drunken sailor after pulling himself from the turf -- the second time. Unsung Hero: - Ricky Proehl, Rams. Proehl came off the bench and had four catches for 91 yards for the Rams, whose best receiver, Isaac Bruce, was sidelined with a pulled hamstring. Worth Watching: - Die-hard Bills' fans who didn't have tickets should write a letter to the NFL and thank them for the blackout rule. This one was especially ugly in the second half after the Bills built a 28-10 lead. No word yet on how many Rams fans flipped over to the St. Louis Cardinals' game in time to catch Mark McGwire's 65th homer. Stats: - Bills coach Wade Phillips is one loss away from starting 0-4 as a head coach with two teams. He lost his first four games with the Denver Broncos in 1994 and finished 7-9. ... The Bills had 407 yards of offense, including 215 rush ing yards, forced four turnovers -- and lost. ... The Bills are 17-22-1 in home openers and 0-1 all time in nameless stadi ums. ... The Rams have won four straight on the road and lost seven straight at home. Game Balls: - Get serious. Quotable: - Bills defensive end Phil Hansen -- "We are finding new and im proved ways to lose." Zebra Watch: - It appeared Eric Smed ley knocked a punt out of play inside the St. Louis 1-yard line, but the refs called it a touchback. That gave the Rams the ball at the 20, setting up their game-winning drive in the final 4 minutes. Worst Sign: - "www.buffalobills.com." We know it's the Bills web site. Read it and weep. Coming Attractions: - The bye. The good news for Bills fans is that they won't lose next week. They're off. Now the bad news. San Francisco rolls into town on Oct. 4. The Bills could play their best game of the season and still lose.

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