On the second play from scrimmage Sunday, Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks stepped in front of J.P. Losman's 5-yard pass intended for the tight end. The ball hit Brooks in the chest and would have been returned for an easy touchdown if he hadn't dropped it.
That was all you really needed to see of the Buffalo Bills' offense Sunday.
For the next three hours, the Buccaneers seemed to know exactly where the Bills wanted to go, they usually were waiting for the Bills to get there, and Losman couldn't figure out what to do about it.
"It's a humbling experience for us," Losman said after the Bills' 19-3 loss. "They had a good scheme. They knew where we were going to be. They watched my eyes all game. They had a good plan for us and they executed it well."
The worst fears for Losman's first NFL road start were realized. The young quarterback was overwhelmed by one of the best defenses in the league. It took the Bills 28 minutes to get a first down. The Bills went three plays and out on seven of their 10 possessions. And Losman completed just 12 of 29 passes for 113 yards.
It was a long day for the Bills defense, too. The proud unit got worn down by the running of Tampa rookie Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, the 91-degree Florida heat and the fact it was on the field for 38 minutes, 50 seconds.
"We definitely got served a little piece of humble pie," Bills safety Lawyer Milloy said. "We weren't able to match their intensity. . . . For whatever reason we got beat in every phase of the game."
Losman did not look comfortable in the pocket, even though he wasn't harassed by blitzes as much as expected.
His third pass attempt was an off-target sideline throw for Eric Moulds. His fourth was in and out of the hands of Tampa cornerback Ronde Barber, who jumped a short route by Lee Evans. His fifth was wide of Evans on the sideline. His sixth was an overthrow of Evans. His seventh was batted down at the line. The eighth time he dropped back, with the Bills backed up on their own 4, he held onto the ball too long and stepped out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
"When you play good teams you can't be inaccurate on those times they give you (the chance) to succeed," Losman said.
Of the safety, which gave Tampa a 2-0 lead, Losman said: "They brought the strong safety. It was a little miscue by the quarterback and the receiver. I tried to make the guy (the blitzing safety) miss like I usually do, but I must have stepped out."
Of the Bucs' anticipation of the Bills' pass routes, Losman said: "One time it was my eyes (that they were reading). One time the guy (for the Bucs) just guessed right. One time it was maybe a route that wasn't the proper depth. It was always something. You can't make those kind of errors against a team like this."
The Bills were down, 9-3, early in the third quarter and faced a third-and-8 from their 46. The Bucs rushed just four men but Losman's throw for Moulds on the right sideline again was wide.
"I let it go a little early," Losman said. "I'm supposed to wait. He's supposed to hook back in. There was (a Bucs defensive back) coming in. So I thought he was going to hook up. He didn't think so; just a little miscommunication."
Same thing on the next series. On first down from the Bucs' 49, Moulds was open on a dig route but Losman's throw was too low.
"I think he was getting so much pressure . . . he was trying to rush his throws a little bit," Moulds said. "He was missing guys on certain plays."
Against a defense as good as Tampa's, precise timing is a must. The Bills were not up to it. Good running is important, too. Willis McGahee managed just 34 yards on 13 carries.
Coach Mike Mularkey inserted Kelly Holcomb at quarterback and Shaud Williams at running back for a series in the fourth quarter. The Bills went three and out that drive, too.
"I was looking to see if we could get a spark at either position and see if we could get something going," Mularkey said. "We were stagnant all day. Whether it's a back or a quarterback, I was just trying to get something going before it was too late."
"My reaction? I'm upset," Losman said about his one-series benching. "I don't want to see another quarterback in there. . . . But it's a team game. I realize I'm young. Coach Mularkey and the other coaches know what's best for me and the team. They felt that was the best decision at that moment for maybe a spark."
Meanwhile, a crowd of 64,777 at Raymond James Stadium watched Williams rush for 128 yards on 24 carries. Williams had 148 yards last week.
"They're very basic in their approach to the run game," said London Fletcher, who sat out the second half with a strained hamstring. "They run what we call a power-O, a counter, some tosses and lead weaks. Those were basically the plays."
The weak-side runs seemed most effective. Williams would start out in the direction of the weak-side tackle, then cut back through a hole behind the strong-side guard.
"We were playing it kind of like a seven-man front," Fletcher said. "We still wanted to protect against the deep pass. We've been very successful stopping the run in seven-man fronts. They were just able to find that crease. . . . They did a good job of blocking and getting us in defenses where our secondary guy was having to be the cutback player. We'll adjust."
The Bills will need to adjust quickly. Next week's opponent, Atlanta, is one of the top rushing teams in the league.
"You're judged by your last performance each and every week," Fletcher said. "We had a great one coming out. Now we're back to Square One."