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STICK WITH ASSIGNMENTS, DEFENDERS ARE TOLD

Do your own job.

That was coach Gregg Williams' message to his players Monday as the Buffalo Bills got back to work in the aftermath of Sunday's debacle in Indianapolis.

The team had a light walk-through practice Monday afternoon that was geared toward correcting assignment mistakes. There were plenty of them Sunday, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and his receivers had a field day against the Bills. Manning threw for 421 yards (four shy of his career high) and four touchdowns, while receivers Marvin Harrison (146) and Jerome Pathon (career-high 168) went over 100 yards. Running back Edgerrin James (111) also topped 100 yards on the ground.

The Colts had 11 plays of 20 yards or more and finished with 555 total yards, the third most by a Bills opponent ever.

Williams said the breakdowns had nothing to do with the team's high-risk aggressive defensive scheme. It was players not sticking to their assignments.

"I really believe that the reason those plays were given up or a large percentage of it was people trying to do too much," he said. "I think second effort is wanted and encouraged after you take care of what you're supposed to do first. What I saw on those plays is that somebody was trying to do somebody else's job and not doing their own job.

"It's a matter of when your number's called, you got to make a play. I think our guys addressed that pretty well (Sunday) and (Monday) in the fact that in a couple of situations they saw the play coming and didn't make the play. That's what it's about in this league."

The Bills were seeing red after all the yellow flags thrown on the field Sunday. The Bills tied a franchise record with 19 penalties against the Colts. It is also the fourth-highest single-game total in NFL history. The league record is 22 set by three teams, mostly recently by the San Francisco 49ers against the Bills in 1998.

Williams declined to comment about the work of the veteran officials, who returned to work after agreeing to a new contract. But there were some questionable calls. One was a holding penalty on cornerback Antoine Winfield that nullified an interception by Nate Clements in the first quarter.

The offense was called for 10 penalties, the defense added seven and special teams had two. It would have been worse had two other penalties not been offset by flags on the Colts.

Williams was angry about the penalties, but not the questionable ones.

"The ones that are frustrating and upsetting to me that I don't like are the ones we can control," he said. "Lining up offsides. Delay of game. Kicking the ball 15 yards out of bounds. Those kinds of penalties, I get upset about that. Am I addressing it? You bet I'm addressing it, and I've been doing it every single day, every single practice you're at. I don't like that. That's not us and we got to get that corrected."

Williams seemed a little irritated when asked his response to those fans that have a gloomy outlook for the Bills.

"Understand this, that doom and gloom stuff ain't going to cut it with me," he said. "I don't think doom and gloom, I never think doom and gloom, and will never, ever, ever, think doom and gloom."

After an embarrassing loss, the last thing the players want to do is sit around and think about it. In the locker room, the Bills were trying to put Sunday out of their minds and focus on the Steelers.

"We can't wait for the next game," said defensive tackle Shawn Price. "Pittsburgh at home? What a great situation we're going to be in. We're ready. We want to get after them. We got two games we can win before the bye and that's it. We've got to start winning, and this team is going to do everything it can to get ready to win the next two."

Williams said the team would make a decision on Sam Cowart's status by Wednesday. The belief is Cowart will be placed on the season-ending injured reserved list.

The Pro Bowl linebacker had surgery Sept. 17 to repair a partially torn Achilles' tendon. He told The Buffalo News last week that it was highly doubtful he would be fully recovered and in football shape before the end of the season.

Quarterback Rob Johnson will be at Black Rock Academy on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo at 10:30 this morning as part of the third annual "Rush for Reading" challenge. The event is a joint effort of the Bills, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Buffalo Public Schools and just buffalo literary center.

Wide receivers Peerless Price and Avion Black, offensive tackle Jonas Jennings, cornerback Lance Brown, place-kicker Jake Arians, punter Brian Moorman, fullback Phillip Crosby, linebacker DaShon Polk and defensive linemen Kendrick Office and Tyrone Robertson will participate in the United Way Hometown Huddles event at Airport Bowling Lanes in Cheektowaga.

Hometown Huddles is an intergenerational program that will bring together players, kids from 11 area Boys & Girls Clubs and residents from four local senior centers.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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