We're about 15 minutes away from kickoff here at sun-soaked Ralph Wilson Stadium where the Jay Cutler-led Bears are in town. Plenty of story lines to track tonight - even with a certain No. 81 sidelined. Buffalo's no-huddle offense gets more game reps. The offensive line's revamped interior faces one of the best defensive tackles in the league, Tommie Harris. And the strong-armed Cutler sees his first meaningful snaps for perpetually quarterback-starved Chicago.
These teams don't face often. The last time they met, the Bears spanked the Bills, 40-7, at Soldier Field in 2006.
Tonight's sellout figured to be Terrell Owens' grand arrival to The Ralph but a toe injury kaboshed those plans. T.O. thinks he'll be back Monday, nothing to sweat about. Replacing Owens in the starting lineup is Josh Reed. If Buffalo goes three-wide to start, Roscoe Parrish will also start. Of course, it'd help a ton for the offense's development for Owens to be in action. Nonetheless, tonight is another opportunity for Trent Edwards to commandeer the hurry-up offense. Chicago's 'D' struggled last year, but still boasts plenty of big guns. Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa - who Buffalo showed interest in this offseason - was added to an already-rich stable of linebackers.
Keep it tuned here for live, drive-by-drive updates as roster battles rage into the night.
13:41 - Solid opening series from the defense, particularly the Bills' starting cornerbacks. Rian Lindell's opening kickoff bounced out of bounds, giving the Bears' juicy field position. Terrence McGee wrapped up Devin Hester for a one-yard gain on first down. And two plays later, on 3rd and short, Leodis McKelvin swatted away a pass intended for Hester.
10:36 - Buffalo's first crack on offense started with a bang. On 3rd and 3, deep in his own end, Trent Edwards looked right then threw a deep ball left to Lee Evans for 36 yards. Evans was a good three strides past Nathan Vasher. But the drive fizzled soon after. Facing 3rd and 4, Edwards was flushed right by heavy pressure and prematurely dumped the ball off to Marshawn Lynch for a two-yard loss. Bears have the ball at their own 12 after the punt.
8:39 - A little heat up front pays big dividends. Cutler's pocket caves and he lofts a gift-wrapped pick to McKelvin up the left sideline. The pass was intended for Hester, who Cutler's been zeroing in on often so far. Bills ball at the 21.
7:25 - Visions of Adrian Wilson resurface as Buffalo fails to capitalize on the McKelvin pick. Buffalo-native Corey Graham whiplashed untouched from the blind side to nail Edwards and force a 3rd and 16. One Edwards checkdown to Lynch later, Buffalo is punting again. Not much wiggle room for receivers in the Bears' secondary. Edwards has settled for multiple dumpoffs.
5:28 - Ugly sequence for Buffalo. One week after pick-sixing Chris Mortensen's son, Reggie Corner drooped a gimmie from Cutler on 3rd down. The ball jiggled in Corner's arms and bounded out. On the ensuing punt, Dominic Rhodes muffed the return and Chicago recovered. Ouch. Bears ball at Buffalo's 43. Let's see if the Bills' 'D' can recover from this rough series of events.
3:20 - On 3rd and 3 at Buffalo's 6, Cutler's slant pass to Hester is tipped mid-flight by rookie Nic Harris. Robbie Gould boots in the chip shot to give Chicago the lead. The big play of the drive was a 30-yard strike from Cutler to Desmond Clark up the right sideline. Give the Bills' 'D' credit for tightening up. Bears 3, Bills 0.
0:00 - Gritty, gritty run from Fred Jackson there. On 3rd and 6, inside Chicago territory, Edwards settled for a horizontal dumpoff to Jackson who was instantly met by Pisa Tinoisamoa. Jackson busted through the linebacker's arms, fought off another would-be tackler and came within one yard of a first down. Buffalo's offense is staying on the field. They'll go for it here at Chicago's 34 to start the second quarter. In other news, Bryan Scott has just left the sideline for the tunnel.
14:20 - Chicago bites on Edwards' playaction. With Derek Schouman open on the rollout, Edwards keeps it and gains 14 yards. Bills still moving.
11:25 - A promising drive stalls. Edwards hit Derek Schouman in traffic to convert a key 3rd and 5, but then is sacked by Alex Brown two plays later. On 3rd and 14, Dick Jauron plays it safe and runs Jackson up the gut. Mildly surprising. Nevertheless, Rian Lindell hits a 23-yard field goal to tie the game. Edwards has been sharp, albeit with a handful of play-it-safe checkdowns. He's 10-for-10 for 79 yards. Buffalo held the ball for over seven minutes on the 16-play, 60-yard marathon drive. Encouraging rhythm for the no-huddle offense. Discouraging, considering Buffalo couldn't punch it in for six. Bills 3, Bears 3.
5:54 - That's why Robbie Gould is destined for 10th round fantasy-football slotting everywhere. After Nic Harris pops Chicago quarterback Caleb Hanie out of bounds on third down, Gould wallops a 50-yarder through the uprights. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the No. 2 offense have taken the baton on offense. Bears 6, Bills 3.
Injury Update: The team announced that Drayton Florence and Bryan Scott both suffered knee sprains and will not return to the game.
2:47 - Another promising Buffalo drive self-destructs inside the 20. Ryan Fitzpatrick zings a slant to practice-favorite Roscoe Parrish and the receiver fumbles the ball away. Chicago takes over at its own 14.
1:08 - Chris Ellis gets Buffalo's offense back on the field for one more drive before halftime. Ellis sacked Hanie and then recovered a fumble on the next play to give the Bills' 'O' the ball back with a minute left. Fitzpatrick just hit Roscoe Parrish for 14 yards after a false start penalty. Ball on Chicago's 30.
0:00 - With time ticking down - and a timeout still at Buffalo's disposal - Fitzpatrick hustles up to the line and lobs a pass to Felton Huggins in the end zone. Huggins drops it in tight coverage and the Bills need to settle for a 20-yard field goal with only four ticks left. Tough break. Buffalo might have been able to squeeze out another play by calling a timeout immediately after Fitzpatrick's strike to Jonathan Stupar. Fitzpatrick has been sharp (8-for-11, 80 yards). Buffalo's offense has been on the move all night. Edwards and Fitzpatrick are a combined 18-of-21. But both units have fizzled inside the 20, leaving precious points on the board. HALF: Bills 6, Bears 6.
9:27 - After a full half's worth of missed opportunities, the Bills punch in a long drive. Ryan Fitzpatrick ran the no-huddle offense his entire collegiate career at Harvard and it showed on Buffalo's drive to start the third quarter. Buffalo marched 75 yards in 10 plays with Dominic Rhodes providing the exclamation point on a three-yard touchdown plunge. Not that it's cueing a quarterback controversy or anything, but Fitzpatrick is currently 13-of-16 for 143 yards. He has a quick release and his delivery is at 45-degrees - like a shortstop in baseball. Fitzpatrick appears tailor-made for Buffalo's no-huddle offense. Bills 13, Bears 6.
7:59 - Bills force a Bears punt and get the ball back at their 20. Looks like the No.3's will take over. To answer the questions below, it looks like Lynch is fine. He's on the sideline in a baseball cap joking around with Fred Jackson. No worries there yet. As for Shawn Nelson, he'll take the field for the first time right now. He's currently fourth on the depth chart behind Derek Schouman, Derek Fine and Jonathan Stupar.
5:04 - Gibran Hamden's pass to Travis McCall sails to no man's land i.e. Chicago's Craig Steltz. After a good interception return by Steltz, the Bears have the ball deep in Buffalo territory.
3:44 - Caleb Hanie is chased out of the pocket, nearly sacked and flips a short pass to Will Ta'ufo'ou who rumbles in for the 14-yard touchdown. Two apostrophes in one name? Touche. Bills 13, Bears 13.
0:00 - We have a 3rd and 12 coming up for the Hamden-led offense. Aside from the one pick, he's been sharp. Hamden is 4-of-5 for 35 yards. Buffalo's running game hasn't been as effective, mustering only 3 yards a pop on 25 attempts.
14:54 - Hamden's pass incomplete. Bills punt.
14:40 - That'll beef up the camp resume. Seventh-rounder Ellis Lankster picks off a tipped pass and returns it 14 yards to Chicago's 4.
14:05 - Buffalo hasn't boasted many tall receivers to lob jump balls to in the end zone in recent years. Maybe tight end Shawn Nelson fits that role down the road. Worked against Chicago's backups, anyways. Hamden lofts a go-get-it floater to Nelson in the end zone and the fourth-round pick snares it. Bills 20, Bears 13
13:36 - Make it two for Lankster. The rookie from West Virginia robs Chicago's Brett Basanez and runs it back 30 yards to set up a short touchdown run by Bruce Hall. For a defense that needs game-changers, Lankster sure is making a great impression tonight. Bills 27, Bears 13.
12:19 - Buffalo's No. 3 'D' forces Bears to punt after a big kick return. But a perfectly placed pooch has the Bills pinned at their own 2. Matt Baker has taken over at quarterback.
10:25 - After a few runs, the Bills punt. Chicago takes over at Buffalo's 45. (The other) Adrian Peterson has taken over at running back for the Bears.
6:23 - Basanez hits Juaquin Iglesias in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard score. Poor coverage by Ko Simpson. Buffalo's safety head was turned away from the ball. Looked like he could have turned and batted it down. Who would have thought a couple years ago that Simpson would be playing in the fourth quarter of a preseason game? Bills 27, Bears 20.
2:13 - Timeout, Chicago. Baker has the Bills offense at Chicago's 49. A couple punishing runs by Corey McIntyre.
0:00 - Bills 27, Bears 20 Be sure to check out tomorrow's Buffalo News for complete coverage.