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Points after: Falcons 34, Bills 31 OT

81172 McCoy Sports Bills  2

By Tim Graham

TORONTO -- Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' demoralizing loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the Rogers Centre ...

What it means: The Bills, trying to keep their playoff hopes alive, took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but allowed the Falcons to tie the game at 17 by halftime. The Bills led 31-24 in the fourth quarter, but let the Falcons tie it again and then fumbled away the victory in the closing seconds. With a Miami Dolphins victory over the New York Jets today, the Bills are in last place and two games out of second place in the AFC East.

Play of the game: Stevie Johnson caught a third-down pass for what would have put the Bills within Dan Carpenter's field-goal range, but he fumbled at the Falcons' 30-yard line with 10 seconds left in regulation time. Without that fumble, tight end Scott Chandler wouldn't have fumbled on the first overtime possession.

Bills player of the game: Toronto's crack-smoking mayor, Rob Ford, showed up to the game in a Fred Jackson uniform, and Jackson lived up to the endorsement. Jackson scored a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown for only the second time in his career. The first time was in 2010 against the Detroit Lions. Jackson gained 78 yards from scrimmage.

Spiller strikes: C.J. Spiller made a pair of gargantuan runs. On the Bills' second play from scrimmage, he ran 77 yards to set up a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, he scampered 36 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Spiller finished with a season-high 149 rushing yards.

Falcons player of the game: Ankle and hamstring injuries have made Roddy White's season a colossal disappointment. His best game had been four receptions for 45 yards. Versus the Bills he caught 10 passes for 143 yards and midway through the third quarter accounted for 101 of Matt Ryan's 179 passing yards.

Turning point of the game: Kiko Alonso got off to a hot start with five takeaways in his first four pro games, but he didn't have another until today. With the Falcons seemingly seizing control of the game in the third quarter, Alonso recovered a botched snap. One play later, Jackson scored on a 21-yard catch-and run to tie the game at 24.

Sack attack: The Bills sacked Ryan six times, thrice on third down to force a punt. Jerry Hughes notched two sacks. Manny Lawson, Marcell Dareus, Mario Williams and Corbin Bryant had one apiece.

Preliminary injury report: Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore needed assistance on the field with about 9:30 left in the third quarter because of a cramp and came out of the game long enough for replacement Ron Brooks to get beat by Tony Gonzalez for a touchdown. Gilmore returned to action. ... Linebacker Arthur Moats left the game in the second half with an undisclosed injury.

Coming up: The Bills will travel three times in their final four games, including two straight in Florida. They will visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday and the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 15.

Bills found way to lose Sunday that had been unseen for 62 years

By Tim Graham

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When I spoke to eight-time Pro Bowl guard Stevie Wisniewski for my NFL Sunday story about overcoming penalties, he shared with me a stat from when he was a coaching intern for John Harbaugh at Stanford.

"If you're minus-one or minus-two in turnovers and also have a net difference of over 30 yards in penalties," Wisniewski said, "it's about impossible to win a game. That doesn't matter who you're playing."

Wisniewski couldn't recall the exact number, but said he thought teams lose 98 percent of the time they're overmatched in penalties and turnovers like that.

Continue reading "Bills found way to lose Sunday that had been unseen for 62 years" »

Day 17: Stephon Gilmore fine after a scare

By Jay Skurski

PITTSFORD -- Buffalo Bills fans can take a deep breath.

Second-year cornerback Stephon Gilmore left practice this evening at St. John Fisher College to have his right foot looked at, but coach Doug Marrone said afterward that he should be fine.

"It was just a toe," Marrone said on the practice field at St. John Fisher College. "Obviously we kept him out here, so it shouldn’t be a problem at all. Just a re-taping and he should be fine."

Gilmore was looked at by head trainer Bud Carpenter on the sideline, with Marrone and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine stopping by to check in on him. After putting his cleat back on, he watched the rest of practice.

The Bills were without defensive tackle Jay Ross tonight, who was dressed for practice, but was excused as his wife was set to deliver a baby.

Missing practice were quarterback EJ Manuel and defensive end Kourtnei Brown, who rode a stationary bike on the sideline.

Highlights from the two-hour session on the turf field included an interception by defensive lineman Marcell Dareus off a tipped ball thrown by Jeff Tuel. Dareus then had the sold-out crowd of about 5,000 at Growney Stadium roaring as he rumbled to the end zone.

Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso continues to make plays, as he knifed into the backfield to blow up a run play by Zach Brown, then came back to break up a pass over the middle three plays later.

Linebacker Manny Lawson came in for a sack of Tuel during the second set of 11-on-11 drills, and a short time later things got testy.

After a completion to Brandon Kaufman, cornerback Jumal Rolle got over-aggressive in trying to rip the ball out after the play was whistled dead. Kaufman replied with a shove, then Rolle ripped his helmet off and gave a violent shove back before teammates intervened.

On the next play, linebacker Arthur Moats and guard Zach Chibane exchanged words after a brief skirmish.

In the fourth and final 11-on-11 session of the night with Tuel at quarterback, Crezdon Butler recorded an interception that he took back for a touchdown.

The Bills’ final practice at St. John Fisher comes Wednesday, from 2 to 5 p.m.

Kiko Alonso likely out Friday, but Marrone says it's no big whoop

Kiko Alonso
Kiko Alonso didn't practice Wednesday and won't play in Friday night's preseason game.

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- Buffalo Bills rookie middle linebacker Kiko Alonso didn't practice tonight and won't play in Friday night's preseason game.

Don't worry, though, said Bills head coach Doug Marrone. Alonso's shoulder is OK.

Alonso was limited in Tuesday's practice and watched from the sidelines tonight at St. John Fisher College. Marrone made it a point to explain Alonso hadn't taken a step back.

"He's cleared by the trainers," Marrone said. "The coaches wanted him out there. I'm resting him. I'm going to hold him out for a couple days just to make sure we get him back. I don't plan on him playing."

Arthur Moats is listed as the second-string middle linebacker on the Bills' most recent depth chart.

Bills court potential key addition in LB Karlos Dansby

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo BIlls could give their defense a big boost and give themselves some needed draft flexibility if they can reach a deal with free-agent linebacker Karlos Dansby.

The Bills announced this morning Dansby is in town for a visit. He's a 31-year-old, nine-year NFL veteran who has been an impact linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins released him in March, although he started the previous three seasons for them.

Dansby can play inside or outside linebacker. If he came to terms with the Bills, then he would step in immediately as a starting inside linebacker. But he also could back up at outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense, and the Bills need some security behind outside starters Mario WIlliams and Manny Lawson. Currently, Arthur Moats probably ranks as the top backup to Lawson on the strong side of the defense.

The Bills enter the draft with needs at quarterback, receiver, guard, cornerback, strong-side linebacker, tight end and perhaps safety. That's seven spots. They have six picks.

The Dolphins released Dansby in order to get younger at linebacker. They made a high-profile addition by signing Dannell Ellerbe from the Baltimore Ravens. Dansby, however, has been a big nuisance to the Bills' offense in games against the Dolphins over the past three seasons.

Kirk Morrison wants to return to Bills, prove what he can do

By Tim Graham

NEW ORLEANS -- Kirk Morrison couldn't get on the field for an historically bad defense that was considered thin at linebacker.

"My knowledge of the game, how many consecutive games I've started over my career," Morrison said, "not to get a start or play significant time was frustrating."

Morrison signed a two-year contract with the Bills in 2011 after starting all but one game in his previous six seasons for the Oakland Raiders, where he was a captain, and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Continue reading "Kirk Morrison wants to return to Bills, prove what he can do" »


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 |

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 |

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 |