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T.O.'s reception streak halted at 185 games Wideout missed twice on bombs

The last time Terrell Owens finished an NFL game without a catch was Week Seven of his rookie year -- in 1996.

A streak that started 185 games ago didn't reach 186 as the veteran wide receiver was shut out during the Buffalo Bills' 27-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Owens' streak was the third-longest in NFL history, behind only Jerry Rice (274 from 1985-04) and Marvin Harrison (190 from 1990-08).

After blowing off the media after the first two games, Owens came to the lectern to discuss the game. He didn't have much to say about his performance, which perhaps was fitting since there wasn't much of a performance to talk about.

"It's over," was his response when asked about his consecutive games streak coming to an end.

Owens was a nonfactor against a Gregg Williams-coached Saints defense that shut down the Bills' passing game. Quarterback Trent Edwards' longest completion was 18 yards. The Bills' biggest pass play came on special teams when punter Brian Moorman threw a 25-yard touchdown to defensive end Ryan Denney on a fake field goal.

"We tried to mix up our coverages and give the Bills different looks," said Saints cornerback and former Bill Jabari Greer, who covered Owens much of the afternoon and broke up a third-quarter pass intended for Owens that was intercepted by defensive end Will Smith. "It was a total team effort. Coach Williams put a great game plan together and put us in position to make plays up front and on the back end."

"It's always a victory for us when we can take away one of their top receivers," added Saints cornerback Tracy Porter. "We didn't let [Owens] get any catches, and that had a lot to do with getting pressure on the QB. They were forced to check down a lot."

Owens had his chances to affect the game, though.

Edwards went deep to Owens twice, and both times he appeared to be open. But Owens was unable to pick up the flight of the first long throw in the first quarter and the ball fell in front of him and Saints safety Darren Sharper.

Owens was at least two steps behind the defense on a bomb in the fourth quarter, but he couldn't catch up to Edwards' overthrown pass.

Overall, Owens was thrown to five times Sunday. But he bobbled one catch as he stepped out of bounds and he couldn't keep his feet in the field of play on another.

Owens was shut out in the first half of the opener at New England and finished with just two catches. He was invisible for most of last week's win over Tampa Bay before grabbing a 43-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

That's five catches for 98 yards through three games for Owens, hardly the kind of production for which the Bills paid him $6.5 million. He has been the target on throws just 13 times. He had games where he was thrown to more.

"Just going with the plays that are called," Owens said repeatedly to questions about his lack of involvement in the Bills' offense. "Whether I like them or don't, I'm just going with the plays that are called."

Owens had a quiet afternoon, but fellow Bills receiver Lee Evans didn't make a lot of noise either. He made four catches for a mere 31 yards.

The Bills are also struggling to get Evans loose downfield, but he suggested that the shots are there.
"We had some chances to go down the field and we didn't," he said. "When it comes down to it, sometimes when it's not going your way, you need kind of a game-changer, a big play to take a shot at some point. The one shot [to Owens] we did take, we just missed it."

So is Edwards not looking in the direction of his two best receivers enough?

"No, I don't want to answer that," said Owens, who has been known for being critical of quarterbacks not getting him the ball. "I don't want to answer that, because whatever I say you guys are going to turn it to however you want to say it."

When his postgame chat ended, Owens made a hasty exit out of the Bills' locker room and into the night, leaving behind a day he'd rather forget.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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