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Bills notebook / Moulds puts turmoil behind him with big receiving night

Because of his huge salary cap number, there is a strong indication that Eric Moulds might be released after the season.

If Saturday night was his last home game as a Buffalo Bills receiver, he left fans with a game to remember him by.

Moulds was the lone offensive bright spot during the Bills' 28-17 loss to the Denver Broncos. Returning after serving a one-game suspension, Moulds had nine catches for 110 yards. It was his best performance since catching nine passes for 125 yards at New England in October.

"It felt good. It felt good all week being around my teammates," Moulds said. "They all supported me and they stuck by me, and it felt good to go out there and go to battle with them.

"I just wanted to come out and play. When you're away from the game you miss it so much. It made me realize how much I need this game and how much it means to me."

Games like Saturday have been few and far between for Moulds this season. His frustration boiled over two weeks ago in Miami when a spat with receivers coach Tyke Tolbert led to Moulds being benched for most of their 24-23 loss to the Dolphins.

That argument plus his criticism of the offensive play-calling resulted in the suspension that kept him out of last Sunday's game against the Patriots.

Moulds, obviously, didn't develop much rust during his short time off. He seemed to be the primary target of quarterback Kelly Holcomb on virtually every pass play.

The Bills ran more crossing routes to free Moulds of double coverage, and he was able to find soft spots in the Broncos' secondary all night.

"I said before the game that I was going to play hard and let the chips fall where they may," he said. "I don't like to say, 'OK, I did a good job. I had a good game,' but we didn't win the game. For me that's the important thing. I just felt that I wanted to give it my all and try to help the team win."

Moulds isn't sure if this is his last season with the Bills, but he sounded like someone who is prepared for whatever happens.

"I'm hoping it's not (my last season), but you never know," he said. "It could go either way. The fans have supported me for 10 years. It was tough (walking off the field). A lot of fans were screaming, 'Don't go,' and 'Please stay.' The last week was hard for me, and a lot of fans in the community came up to me and told me that they were behind me.

"You always like to win your last game, but we've got two weeks left so I don't want to jump the gun and say I'm out of here. We'll sit down with Mr. (Tom) Donahoe and management and Mr. (Ralph) Wilson and see where we're at."

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J.P. Losman was listed as the third-string quarterback. He practiced only once last week because of a sore right (throwing) shoulder but didn't do any throwing during pregame warm-ups. Shane Matthews served as Holcomb's primary backup.

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Tight end Ryan Neufeld suffered a knee injury Saturday, though the severity was not known after the game. Running back Willis McGahee hurt his left arm and shoulder in the first half but managed to play the rest of the game. Shaud Williams was banged up late in the game, but it was not serious.

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It was a tough night for Bills left guard Chris Villarrial, who accounted for four penalties totaling 35 yards. His holding penalty derailed the Bills' second drive. He was charged with two false starts on one second-quarter possession.

Villarrial's most egregious error came with seconds left in the first half when he was charged with a personal foul after shoving Broncos defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban to the ground. The Bills had a first down near midfield, but the penalty pushed them back to their 30-yard line, eliminating a potential scoring opportunity.

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This was the first Saturday night game ever at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills are 11-8-2 on Saturdays overall. Their previous Saturday outing was a lot better than this one as they routed the Seahawks in Seattle, 42-23, Dec. 23, 2000.

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This was the 31st meeting between the Bills and Broncos since their inception as AFL franchises in 1960. The Bills lead the series 17-14-1, but the Broncos have won the past five meetings.

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The Bills scored on their opening drive for the ninth time this season.

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Offensive guard/tackle Mike Williams sat out for the third straight game with a chest injury. He was joined on the inactive list by free safety Rashad Baker, wide receivers Jonathan Smith and George Wilson, running back Lionel Gates, linebacker Liam Ezekiel and offensive guard Justin Geisinger.

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New University at Buffalo head football coach Turner Gill and Athletics Director Warde Manuel attended Saturday's game.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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