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A LEAP BACKWARD

MONDAY BILLBOARD

The Big Picture: The Bills and J.P. Losman came down to earth in a hurry Sunday, getting outplayed in every phase of the game in a 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Losman was dreadful in his first road start. The defense did little to justify comparisons to the NFL's great defenses. Clad again in their throwback uniforms, the Bills turned in a road performance that was a throwback to the worst moments of the Bledsoe era. Play of the Day: With the teams tied at zero, Losman stepped out of the back of his own end zone while being chased by Tampa Bay linebacker Shelton Quarles, giving the Bucs a 2-0 lead and a huge boost of momentum. The Bucs scored a TD on the ensuing possession and were never seriously threatened thereafter.

Player of the Game: Cadillac Williams. Tampa Bay's new Caddy ran over, through and around the vaunted Buffalo defense for 128 yards on 24 carries. Williams has run 51 times for 276 yards (5.4 per rush) in two games. Did someone say Rookie of the Year?

Game Balls: Where do you start with the Bucs? Williams for sure. Brian Griese gets one for managing the game so well. Give one to the entire Tampa Bay defense for giving Losman a rude initiation to life as a visiting NFL quarterback.

Unsung Hero: Josh Bidwell. It was Bidwell's perfectly placed punt that put the Bills at the 1-yard line and led to the safety. A tip of the hat to Juran Bolden, who sprinted down the field in time to catch the ball on the fly.

End of Streak: The Bills allowed a third-quarter touchdown for the first time since the 2003 season. That's right. They went all 16 games without allowing a TD in the third quarter last season.

Reed Sighting: Josh Reed led the Bills with six catches for 71 yards, by far his most productive game in more than a year. Reed didn't gain more than 32 yards in receptions in any game last season.

Quote unquote: Mike Mularkey on the loss - "I look at it as maybe a lesson learned on how to prepare for a road game. It was all of us, not just one phase or another. I'm including all the coaches, myself, everybody. It was not good enough by anybody."

Zebra Report: The Bills unsuccessfully challenged a 3-yard touchdown run by Williams that put the Bucs ahead, 16-3, in the third quarter. Replays clearly showed Williams was in, but Mularkey was desperate for any kind of positive result at that point in the debacle.

Counting the House: The Bucs announced a sellout crowd of 64,777 at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay, which is playing its eighth season in its new house, has a waiting list of 115,000 for season tickets, the fifth-longest in the NFL. Green Bay has the biggest.

Coming Attractions: Looking to get back over .500, the Bills host Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons at 1 p.m. next Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Grading the Bills

Running game: F
Hard to get in a rhythm because offense was off field so fast. Willis ran sideways too much and averaged only 2.6 a carry.

Passing game: F
J.P. gets rude welcome to life on the road. His sideline throws were off target. It looked like Week Two in Oakland last year.

Run defense: F
Front seven got gashed up the middle over and over. It didn't help they were on the field for almost 40 minutes.

Pass defense: C
Bucs didn't have to risk throwing downfield with "Cadillac" eating up clock. Tackling on receivers was mostly good.

Special teams: C -
Moorman had four chances to pin Bucs deep and didn't nail any of them. McGee had three pretty good kickoff returns.

Coaching: F
Offense didn't come up with any solution to Bucs' defensive scheming. Defense had trouble adjusting to runs up middle.

Grading the Bucs

Running game: A
"Cadillac" had fast wheels and a powerful motor. He's in lead for Rookie of the Year. The O-line played nasty.

Passing game: C
Griese played close to the vest. He didn't have to do much and didn't. He dinked, he dunked, he protected the ball.

Run defense: A
Speed, speed, speed. Bucs swarm to the ball. They're small up front but not easily bullied. Safety helped stop run.

Pass defense: A
Barber and Kelly read quarterback and jump pass routes as well as any corner tandem in league. Pass rush is fierce.

Special teams: C
Bidwell's hang-time punt set up safety. Bucs hurt their field position with five special teams penalties.

Coaching: A
Gruden made good use of his 3:17 a.m. wake-up calls. Kiffin made Losman's life miserable. Maybe these Bucs are for real.

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