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Late field goal would not have been a breeze

Place-kicker Rian Lindell tied a career high with five field goals on Sunday, but the only thing he could think about is the one he didn't get to try.

Facing fourth down and 5 at Tennessee's 28-yard line with 57 seconds left, the Bills could have attempted a 45-yard field goal. The problem, though, was kicking into a very stiff wind.

Rob Bironas of the Titans made a 42-yarder from the same direction, but the ball barely made it over the cross bar. So when Bills coach Dick Jauron approached Lindell about possibly trying a game-winning kick, Lindell's uncertainty convinced Jauron that going for the first down was the best decision.

But quarterback J.P. Losman's desperation pass was intercepted and Tennessee ran out the clock to preserve a 30-29 victory.

The windy conditions at Ralph Wilson Stadium have been an advantage for the Bills all season. On Sunday, the weather worked against them.

"It would have been different if the wind gusts had died down," Lindell said. "It's kind of tough to say, 'No, I can't make it.' You try not to say that too many times. [Jauron] asked me and I didn't know what to say. I try to leave up it to them and if it's a field goal I'll go out and try to bang it and hope for the best. But to tell you the truth, it would have been a tough one to make."

Lindell said any field goal attempt over 40 yards would have been tricky Sunday. Before the game, the Bills determined the longest field goal they would try would be from 42 yards, which meant the ball needed to reach Tennessee's 25.

As it turned out, Lindell was a mere 3 yards from having a chance to keep the Bills' playoffs hopes alive and cap off the best day of his career.

"I definitely would have liked to try that if it was a couple of yards closer," said Lindell, whose 17 points Sunday were a personal best. "From that distance, I don't know. But it's tough not having a chance to give your team a chance for a win."

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Willis McGahee was outgained by Tennessee's Travis Henry, 135-95. However, McGahee didn't allow himself to get caught up in a personal matchup with his former teammate.

"I was just going out there and playing my game," McGahee said. "I wasn't trying to outdo Travis because we're on two different teams. I've got to worry about helping my teammates out. If my number is called, I've got to step up and make plays."

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McGahee and middle linebacker London Fletcher were seen throwing up on the sideline in the second half. McGahee said his daughter has a virus and he may have gotten something from her. The players were fine after the game.

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Henry is the second player to rush for 100 yards against the Bills after playing for Buffalo. Antowain Smith did it twice after he joined New England after beginning his career in Buffalo.

Henry joins Smith and Larry Kennebrew as the only players to have 100-yard rushing games for and against the Bills.

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Sunday's crowd of 54,765 was the smallest for a Bills home game since the 2002 finale when 47,850 showed up to watch Buffalo beat Cincinnati.

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After J.P. Losman's 37-yard touchdown pass to receiver Lee Evans in the third quarter, the Bills could have gone for a two-point conversion that would have given the Bills a 27-20 lead instead of the 26-20 advantage.

But with more than nine minutes left in the quarter, Jauron didn't second-guess his decision to not go for two.

"No," he said. "That early I didn't consider it."

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Defensive end Aaron Schobel recorded a sack in his sixth straight game (a career high) and needs one more to tie Phil Hansen (61.5) for second place on the Bills' career list.

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Fullback Daimon Shelton sat out the game with a head injury. The other inactives were cornerback Ashton Youboty, running back Shaud Williams, guard Tutan Reyes, defensive end Eric Powell, linebacker Roy Manning and defensive tackle Jason Jefferson.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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