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AND THEY'RE OFF

MONDAY BILLBOARD

BIG PICTURE: The Buffalo defense launched the J.P. Losman era with five takeaways, and Willis McGahee punished the Houston defense for 117 yards rushing in the Bills' 22-7 victory over the Texans. It was crucial for the Bills to start the season with a win and give Losman some confidence heading into his first road start next week at Tampa Bay.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Hats off to the Kid from Tulane. Losman led the Bills to scoring drives on their first five possessions - four field goals by Rian Lindell and a touchdown pass to Jason Peters - while completing 17 of 28 passes for 170 yards in his first NFL start. Losman, who showed good poise in the pocket, was sacked just once and didn't throw an interception.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Free safety Troy Vincent picked off David Carr twice and defensive end Aaron Schobel had two sacks, but cornerback Nate Clements locked down wide receiver Andre Johnson. The Playmaker limited Johnson to three receptions for 18 yards. Johnson was the only Houston receiver with a reception.

UNSUNG HERO: Josh Stamer finished with three tackles and one assist on special teams.

PLAY OF THE GAME: On second and goal from the 1, Losman threw a soft pass to the tackle-eligible Peters for the Bills' first TD of the season, and the first of Losman's career.

GAME BALLS: The Bills hand out their own, but let's give one each to Losman, McGahee, Clements, Vincent, Schobel and Lindell, who had five field goals.

ZEBRA REPORT: The men in black and white called it tight: 16 penalties for 109 yards. Houston was whistled six times for 38 yards while the home team was caught 10 times for 71 yards.

EX-STAR SIGHTING: 1989 Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware. The way Carr played, maybe the Texans could use him.

COOLEST THROWBACK JERSEY: Honorable mention goes to the Bills, who went way back in the closet with the 1965 uniforms, but the award goes to the guy wearing a Sherman Douglas No. 20 Syracuse jersey.

COUNTING THE HOUSE: A crowd of 71,781 watched the Bills open the season at the Ralph for the sixth consecutive year.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: The Bills travel to Tampa Bay next week to play the Buccaneers, who surprised Minnesota at home Sunday, 24-13. After that, it's Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons in The Ralph before another road game against the New Orleans Saints, a game that could be in San Antonio.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "They were on everything, just a great defense. The best defense I've played against." - Houston quarterback David Carr on the Bills' defense.

Grading the Bills

Running game: B
Willis had minus-3 on his first five carries but wore them down. Blocking was pretty good. Losman's running was a bonus.

Passing game: B
Efficient. Error-free. Just what the Bills wanted. J.P. took care of the ball and looked confident in the pocket.

Run defense: A
Stout run defense sets table for Bills' zone dogs. Davis could find no creases in Bills' front seven. Fletcher pursued well.

Pass defense: A
Vincent played great center field. Clements made Johnson disappear. The pass rush was as ferocious as ever. Awesome start.

Special teams: A
Three cheers for Rian Lindell. He had five FGs, and Bills needed them. The kickoff coverage was sensational.

Coaching: A
Congrats to Sam Wyche for getting J.P. ready for Opening Day. Play-calling on offense and defense was on the money.

Grading the Texans

Running game: D
Davis was stuffed, and he lost a fumble on his own 27. Texans didn't have one third-and-short all game.

Passing game: F
The Texans' problem is they have only one WR threat. Carr didn't have anywhere to go with the ball. He was off target, too.

Run defense: C-
Houston's 3-4 front wore down as game went on. Willis drove them back. But they held firm in the red zone.

Pass defense: D
They needed to make Losman look like a rookie and could not do it. Buchanon was picked on. Jason Babin was invisible.

Special teams: C
Chad Stanley did a good job getting hang time on his punts, which limited the Bills' return game.

Coaching: F
By Year Four, the Texans should have more bullets in their offensive gun than this. The O-line got whipped.

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