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Stevie Johnson lobbies for Chan Gailey to give up play-calling

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson wants Chan Gailey to relinquish the play-calling duties.

Johnson told reporters after Sunday's 20-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts the struggling Bills' offense would be better off if quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick called the plays instead.

"How I see it, I think we need to let our quarterback call these plays," Johnson said. "He's out there on the field. He sees the adjustments that need to be done. I think we just need to let him make adjustments on the go. I think that's the way we can move the ball better.

"He did it a little bit in the game, and we moved the ball. ... He was hitting C.J. [Spiller], getting his run plays, doing the pass plays, and I just think we should do it more often.

"[Fitzpatrick] knows what to check into and check out of. It's different when you are looking from the booth and say, 'OK, they might be in this' than being out there. That's just my take on it. I just think that he has the ability to control the offense 100 percent. I think we should take advantage of that."

Fitzpatrick and Gailey already had conducted their postgame news conferences and weren't available to respond to Johnson's remarks.

Spiller treated Johnson's comments like plutonium.

"I'm not going to comment on that," Spiller said. "I have no comment. Everybody's entitled to their own opinion. I'm not going to even get into 'Coach Gailey is calling the wrong plays.'

"Coach Gailey has done this for a long time. He's been in the business for a long time. He knows what he's doing. It's up to us to go out and execute. I'm going to leave it at that."

The Bills ended a seven-quarter touchdown drought in the fourth quarter. They have scored zero or one offensive touchdown in four of their past seven games.

The Bills were much more aggressive downfield than they had been this season. Fitzpatrick made a long strike to Johnson up the right sideline for a 63-yard gain, the longest of Johnson's career.

Johnson said Fitzpatrick made those calls.

"It was all Fitz," Johnson said. "Fitz made the adjustments, the audibles, and I think that led to our success, going down the field, making those throws. So I just think we should do a little bit more of that."

Video: Gaughan, Sully on Bills' loss at Indy

It was an ugly, dull defeat today for the Buffalo Bills who left Indianapolis with their playoff hopes severely crippled, according to News sports reporters Mark Gaughan and Jerry Sullivan who report from Lucas Oil Stadium:

Mario Williams playing like the superstar Bills, fans wanted

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills' $100 million man is getting into a groove.

With five games to go, Bills defensive end Mario Williams already has more sacks than any Bills registered in each of the previous two seasons.

The big-ticket free agent made his presence felt this afternoon against the Indianapolis Colts. He recorded three sacks, a half-sack short of the career-best he set with the Houston Texans in 2007.

All of Williams' sacks Sunday came on third downs and forced punts. He added another hit on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and deflected a pass.

Williams claimed his stellar performance didn't matter because of the final score.

"I told you before all I want to do is go out and play ball and try to help us get in position to win," Williams said. "It's 11 people on a defense. Obviously, one particular effort helps, but we need all 11."

Williams leads the Bills with 8.5 sacks, the most since Aaron Schobel finished with 10 sacks in 2009.

Williams has seven sacks over his past six games and five sacks in the four games since having wrist surgery during the bye week.

"The biggest thing for me is my morale and feeling better," Williams said. "That helped me tremendously."

Once again, Chan Gailey shows no faith in Rian Lindell from 50-plus

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Rian Lindell has distance envy.

The most accurate kicker in Buffalo Bills history sees other NFL teams try 50- and 60-yard field goals rather routinely. He hasn't been allowed to try one over 50 yards since Halloween 2010.

For the second time in six games, Bills coach Chan Gailey declined to try a field goal from a distance that's quite common for contemporary kickers, passing up on a chance to try a 52-yarder in the second quarter of a 20-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Bills lost by more than three points, but a field goal could have influenced the rest of the game. Gailey's decision also indicates a lack of faith in his kicker on a team that ended a seven-quarter touchdown slump today.

"Sometimes it just doesn't work out," Lindell said of Gailey's decision. "Certainly, I'd like to be able to ..."

Lindell's voice trailed off as he tried to answer a pointed question diplomatically.

"You watch other games, and you see guys making two or three 50s in a game," Lindell said. "I want to play, too."

The Bills trailed 7-3 with 10:18 left in the second quarter and had the ball on the Colts' 34-yard line after Ryan Fitzpatrick took a 4-yard sack. Rather than try the field goal or go for the first down on fourth-and-14, Gailey elected to punt.

Shawn Powell lofted a 23-yard punt Tom Zibikowski fair caught at the Colts' 11-yard line. The net gain from the spot of the field goal -- had Lindell missed -- was 31 yards.

The Lucas Oil Stadium roof was closed. The temperature inside was 70 degrees. In pregame warmups, Lindell made a kick on that side of the field from 55 yards. He made one from 51 yards and sent one wide from 58 yards at the other end of the field.

"Usually, I just say 'When you get to the 35,' " Lindell said of his range. "It's been like that for 10 years or whatever.

"Get to there, and I don't have to worry about distance. It's just a matter of hitting a clean ball and keeping it straight. You go outside of that, I have to make sure I sting it a little bit."

Lindell has made 17 of his 30 attempts from 50 yards or longer throughout his career.

Gailey estimated his comfort level with Lindell's range was "50, 51, 52, somewhere right in there."

"He might make it, and he might not," Gailey said. "We were playing pretty good defensively, and I thought if we backed them up down there and held them, it was better for us percentage-wise and we'd be able to get a touchdown out of it because of field position."

On the Colts' ensuing possession, they drained 6:03 off the clock with a 12-play drive that ended on a 25-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal.

Gailey also declined to have Lindell kick a 53-yarder (also indoors) in overtime against the Arizona Cardinals in Week Six. The Bills punted, yet still won with a point-blank Lindell field goal set up by a Jairus Byrd interception.

"I'm just ready to kick when he wants me to kick," Lindell said. "Certainly, I prepare to make them. But he calls what he wants to call.

"I hope he thinks I can make that and he just wanted to pin them. I want them all. I want to attempt it. But when he calls punt, you've got to go punt."

Points after: Colts 20, Bills 13

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' 20-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts this afternoon in Lucas Oil Stadium ...

What it means: The Bills' playoff hopes have been crippled. They are 4-7 with five games to play. The Bills went into the game needing to catch the Colts in the wild-card race.

Star of the game: Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck showed why he was the first pick in April's draft. His stats weren't flashy -- 20 of 37 for 240 yards and one touchdown with a tipped interception -- but he ran the offense with the aplomb of a veteran franchise quarterback.

Bills star of the game: Bills defensive end Mario Williams has put together a string of impressive games since his wrist surgery. He had three sacks against the Colts -- all of them on third down.

Play of the day: With the Bills down seven points in the third quarter, the Colts faced a third-and-17 from the Bills' 32-yard line. Luck stepped into a crumbling pocket, bought some time with his feet and found Reggie Wayne for a 25-yard gain. Three plays later, the Colts scored their only offensive TD.

Turnaround play of the day: With less than five minutes to play and the Bills down by seven, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception at the Colts' 24-yard line. On the return, Tom Zbikowski fumbled. Bills receiver Stevie Johnson recovered, giving the Bills a new set of downs.

Stat line of the day: Bills running back C.J. Spiller ran 14 times for 107 yards, a 7.6-yard average. He has gained at least 100 yards from scrimmage six straight games, the longest such Bills streak since Thurman Thomas in 1992-93.

Decision of the day: Bills coach Chan Gailey declined to try a 52-yard field goal with 10:18 left in the second quarter. Instead, he sent out Shawn Powell to punt from the Colts' 34-yard line. Zbikowski made a fair catch at the 11-yard line -- a net gain of 31 yards if Rian Lindell would have missed the field goal.

Preliminary injury report: The neck injury that sidelined Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay the previous two games knocked him out of the game in the first half. He didn't return. Bills fullback Corey McIntyre left the game with 13:19 to play with an apparent leg injury.

Coming up: The Bills will be "home" for the next three games. They'll play the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday and the St. Louis Rams on Dec. 9 in Ralph Wilson Stadium. Then the Bills will drift up to Toronto to play the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 16.

CB Vontae Davis headlines Bills at Colts inactives

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Here are the inactives for today's game between the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts in Lucas Oil Stadium.

Buffalo Bills

  • Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson
  • Wide receiver Marcus Easley
  • Offensive lineman Thomas Welch
  • Defensive end Mark Anderson
  • Linebacker Kirk Morrison
  • Cornerback Aaron Williams
  • Cornerback Crezdon Butler

Indianapolis Colts

  • Tight end Coby Fleener
  • Tight end Dominique Jones
  • Tackle Tony Hills
  • Nose tackle Josh Chapman
  • Defensive end Clifton Geathers
  • Inside linebacker Mario Harvey
  • Cornerback Vontae Davis

Greetings from Lucas Oil Stadium for Bills at Colts

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Buffalo Bills will get a clearer idea of their playoff chances this afternoon, when they play the Indianapolis Colts at 1 p.m. here in Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Bills must catch the Colts to get into the tournament. If the season were to end today, the Colts would have one of the AFC's two wild-card playoff spots.

Here is a digest of items about today's game.

Weather report: What do you care? The game is indoors.

Matchup to watch: Bills rookie left tackle Cordy Glenn versus Colts pass-rusher Dwight Freeney. Glenn didn't see much of Miami Dolphins pass-rusher Cameron Wake last week. That responsibility mostly fell on right tackle Chris Hairston.

But Glenn could be busier today. Freeney is a seven-time Pro Bowler with 25 career multi-sack games. Freeney has only two sacks this year because of injuries, but he's healthy now.

Matchup to watch II: As Buffalo News reporter Jay Skurski points out in today's Scouting Report, Bills running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson could have big performances. The Colts have been weak against the run, allowing 120 yards a game.

Did you know? Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri has missed 18 field goals against the Bills. He has made 30 of his 48 attempts. He hasn't missed more than seven attempts against any other team.

The Buffalo News has you covered throughout the day. Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan, columnist Jerry Sullivan and I are in the Lucas Oil Stadium press box, and photographer James P. McCoy will be shooting from the sidelines.

Skurski will moderate our live chat from noon until 5 p.m. "[BN] the Huddle," our postgame webcast, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Hosted by Skurski and Lauren Mariacher, the recap show will include reports from Indianapolis and analysis from One News Plaza staffers such as executive sports editor Lisa Wilson and reporters Milt Northrop and Keith McShea.

Today's game will be televised by CBS and shown in Western New York on WIVB Channel 4. Marv Albert will call the play-by-play with Rich Gannon adding analysis.

Fast fact: The last time the Bills won in Indianapolis was in 1998 with Doug Flutie at quarterback.

Something to consider: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has 12 touchdown passes, third for a rookie in Colts history. He needs only four to catch Jeff George but will need to get hot to surpass the 26 touchdowns Peyton Manning threw in 1998.

Bills all-time games versus the Colts: Fred Jackson rushed for 212 yards two years ago. Joe Ferguson passed for 317 yards and Frank Lewis had 158 receiving yards in separate 1979 games.

Audio: Ernie Warlick at 1984 Bills dinner

By Mark Gaughan

Ernie Warlick, who died Saturday, played only four seasons with the Buffalo Bills but still was good enough to be named the tight end on the team's 25-year anniversary team in 1984.

Warlick was 30 years old when he signed with Buffalo in 1962. He had played five seasons with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League from 1957 to 1961. He was a CFL West All-Star three times, in '58, '59 and '60. His best CFL season was 1959 when he caught 53 passes for 909 yards. Overall he caught 202 passes for Calgary for 3,332 yards.

For the Bills, Warlick caught 90 passes for 1,551 yards over four seasons. The Bills were a running team. Warlick's most productive season was '62, when he caught 35 passes for 482 yards.

Here's an audio clip of Warlick being introduced during the Bills' Silver Anniversary dinner in October 1984. Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. recalls Warlick's big TD catch in the 1965 AFL Championship Game at San Diego. (Thanks to Buffalo broadcasting great Pete Weber for the file.)


Download

Live Bills-Colts chat at noon; [BN]TheHuddle live postgame video at 7:30 p.m.

Fantasy Saturday: Best and worst matchups of Week 12

By Jay Skurski

Happy Disco day. Before dancing the night away, make sure you've got your lineup set. Here's a look at this week's best and worst matchups by position:

Against quarterbacks, the Saints (20.9), Vikings (18.7) and Raiders (18.3) are giving up the most fantasy points per week in standard scoring ESPN leagues. New Orleans hosts San Francisco, which is likely to have a new starting quarterback in Colin Kaepernick. If there's ever a time to trust a second-year player making just his second-ever start, it's against the Saints. The Vikings visit Chicago, who should have Jay Cutler back in the lineup from a concussion. He's a good start. The Raiders visit Andy Dalton and the Bengals. Dalton is another good play Sunday.

The toughest defenses for quarterbacks are found in Chicago (9.4), Seattle (10.4) and Pittsburgh (10.5). That means if you own Minnesota's Christian Ponder, the Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill or the Browns' Brandon Weeden, you should be finding a different option.

The defenses allowing the most fantasy points to running backs are Buffalo (24.1), New Orleans (22.1) and Oakland (21.5). Vick Ballard of the Colts should be in your lineup against the Bills, while the Saints will have to deal with Frank Gore of the 49ers, a must start each week. The Bengals' BenJarvus Green-Ellis has touchdowns in two of his last three games and is a good start.

The toughest defenses against opposing running backs belong to the 49ers (9.5), Texans (10.0) and Bears (10.8). New Orleans running backs are tough to predict, so they should sit today against the Niners. Minnesota's Adrian Peterson has a tough matchup, but of course you're not sitting him.

The Saints (27.6), Tampa Bay (27.5) and Washington (26.2) are giving up the most points to opposing receivers. The Niners' Michael Crabtree is a good play in New Orleans, while the Bucs have to deal with the nightmare matchup against Atlanta's must-start duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones.

The defenses allowing the fewest points to receivers are Seattle (15.0), Pittsburgh (15.1) and Atlanta (15.4). Brian Hartline is having a nice fantasy season for Miami, but I expect the Seahawks to shut him down Sunday. I'd consider sitting Hartline. In Cleveland, rookie Josh Gordon has become the Browns' top pass catcher. I like him Sunday as a No. 2 WR despite the tough matchup. The Falcons also have a tough matchup against Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams (Riverside). Williams should sit Sunday.

Against tight ends, Denver (10.8), Tennessee (10.3) and Washington (10.2) are giving up the most fantasy points. The Broncos have a layup today against the Chiefs, who do not have a viable fantasy tight end. The Titans face the Jaguars, who likewise don't have a fantasy threat at tight end.

The toughest defenses against tight ends are Cleveland (4.6), San Francisco (4.7) and Pittsburgh (5.1). The Steelers' Heath Miller and the Saints' Jimmy Graham are must starts each week despite their matchups, while Cleveland's Benjamin Watson should sit against Pittsburgh.

Best of luck in Week 12!

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | tgraham@buffnews.com


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | mgaughan@buffnews.com


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | jskurski@buffnews.com

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