2007 - Missed Opportunities

2007 - Missed Opportunities
7-9 record, 2 of 4 in AFC East, 9 of 16 in AFC, 18 of 32 in NFL
In a rebuilding year in 2006 many thought the Bills overachieved.  In 2007 they expected to take the next step and challenge for a playoff spot for the first time since Doug Flutie and Rob Johnson was the hot debate on sports radio. Entering 2007 J.P. Losman was the clear-cut starter at QB after throwing for over 3000 yards in 2006 and starting all 16 games.  The Bills parted ways with the only other QB on the roster with starting experience, dealing Kelly Holcomb to the Eagles.  Holcomb did not take a single snap in 2006.  Another key cog of past Bills teams, LB Takeo Spikes, was also traded to the Eagles.  In return the Bills received DT Darwin Walker to help bolster their running defense.  Walker failed to report to the Bills and they traded his rights to the Bears for a 5th round draft pick in 2008.  The Bills also lost CB Nate Clements to an $80M contract, aging LB London Fletcher, OT Mike Gandy, OL Chris Valarrial, DB Troy Vincent, RB Schaud Williams, and  DB Matt Bowen.  Unhappy in Buffalo, Willis McGahee requested a trade.  The Bills acquired the Ravens' third and fifth round picks in the 2007 draft and a third round pick in the 2008 draft.  During the first few hours of free agency the Bills signed OG Derrick Dockery and OT Langston Walker  to solidify the unruly offensive line.  They also signed OL Kirk Chambers in the effort and bolstered their secondary by signing Dustin Fox.  In the draft Buffalo selected RB Marshawn Lynch to replace McGahee.  The Bills traded up in the second round to select Penn State LB Paul Posluszny.  In the third round the team took QB Trent Edwards.  DB John Wendling and TE Derek Schouman were also selected later in the draft along with RB Dwayne Wright.  The Bills also added RB Fred Jackson and LB Blake Costanzo to the active roster. To chronicle the Bills every move, a website was started in April of 2007.  Since then Buffalo Rumblings has grown into the go to place for everything Bills related.

Buffalo opened the season with three straight losses.  The first came at home to Denver on a last-second field goal.  Buffalo gained only 184 total yards to Denver's 470 but a Roscoe Parrish punt return gave the Bills a chance to win that they ultimately failed to convert.  The next two games were blowout losses to the Steelers and Patriots.  In the loss to the Patriots, starting QB J.P. Losman was injured when Patriot DT Vince Wilfork's elbow hyper-extended Losman's knee. In week 4 the Bills and Jets played a scoreless first half in QB Trent Edward's first career start.  In the second half Marshawn Lynch put the Bills up 7-0 and the Bills pushed the lead to 17-7 when Edwards hit Michael Gaines for his first touchdown in the NFL.  On the day Edwards was 22 of 28 for 234 yards, a TD, and an INT in his inaugural run.  The next week Monday Night Football returned to Orchard Park and Ralph Wilson Stadium was electric.  In the first quarter DB George Wilson, playing for injured Ko SImpson, returned a Tony Romo interception for a touchdown to take the lead.  After a Romo pass tied the score and Rian Lindell kicked a field goal, Chris Kelsay made the play of his life tipping a pass in the end zone and catching the interception for a touchdown. Buffalo  was up 17-7 and the offense hadn't scored.  But at the end of the first half the Cowboys, led by former Bills coach Wade Phillips, kicked a 47-yard field goal to pull within one score of the Bills.  After another Cowboys field goal, Terrence McGee returned the kickoff 103 yards for the score - the third Bills' non-offensive touchdown of the game - to take a 24-13 lead.  Dallas kicked a field goal to pull within one score at the beginning of the fourth quarter.  Getting the ball back late in the fourth quarter, Romo led a long drive scoring a touchdown with 20 seconds left.  On the two-point conversion, CB Jabari Greer shielded WR Terrell Owens from the ball and Buffalo remained up by 2 points.  But on the ensuing onside kick the Cowboys recovered and the game wasn't over.  With three seconds left the Cowboys kicked a 53-yard field goal to apparently win the game.  The kick had to be remade, however, when Dick Jauron called timeout prior to the kick.  Nick Folk lined up one more time and drilled it through the uprights to score Dallas' ninth point in 20 seconds to win the game.  After a long bye week the Bills beat the Ravens and Willis McGahee and began a run beating the Jets, Bengals, and Dolphins in the next three weeks to run their record to 5-4.  In the Jets game QB Trent Edwards was knocked from the game and J.P. Losman returned to the field.  Then they faced the undefeated Patriots.  New England whomped the Bills 56-10 and the Patriots gained over 500 yards of offense and Tom Brady threw three TD passes to Randy Moss.  Trent Edwards replaced the ineffective Losman the next week in Washington on the heels of a tragedy in the Redskins organization.  During the previous week, safety Sean Taylor was shot and killed.  The Bills were down 16-14 late in the game when Edwards led a comeback firing the ball down the field and setting up kicker Rian Lindell for the winning kick.  The following week the Bills hosted the 0-12 Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium.  Trent Edwards threw a career-high four touchdown passes and both Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson topped 100 yards in a 38-17 rout of Miami.  Buffalo was 7-6 and on a three-game winning streak facing a team that stood in their way of making the playoffs - the 8-5 Cleveland Browns.  The Bills and Browns played in a blizzard with winds gusting uncontrollably and snow flying in every direction including up.  The Browns managed only two field goals on offense and a safety when Ryan Neill's snap to Brian Moorman went over his head and was kicked from the end zone in an 8-0 Browns win, all but eliminating Buffalo from the tight AFC playoff race.  A home loss to the Giants and a loss to the Eagles left the Bills 7-9 for the second straight year. 

The Bills offense was terrible for the second year in a row finishing 30 of 32 teams in yards and points.  Edwards was 5-4 as a starter and threw for a 56% completion percentage, 1630 yards, and 7 TDs to his 8 INTs.  Losman went 2-5 as a starter, threw for a 63% competition percentage, 1204 yards, and 4 TDs to 6 INTs.  The rookie Lynch topped 1000 yards, logging 1115 yards and 7 TDs plus another passing touchdown.  Lee Evans led the team in receiving with 55 catches for 849 yards.  Angelo Crowell and John Digiorgio (who replaced Posluszny early in the year when Poz was injured) led the team with 86 tackles each.  The defense ranked 31 in yards given up but a hallmark of the bend-not-break aspect of the Tampa 2 defense is not to allow points.  The Bills were 18 in points allowed.  Tackle Jason Peters and DE Aaron Schobel were the only Bills players selected to the Pro Bowl.  Special teams demon Steve Tasker was added to the Wall of Fame during the 2007 season.  Tasker was a seven-time Pro Bowl players and was named the MVP of the game in 1993.  Prior to the 2007 season, Bills running back Thurman Thomas was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame joining teammates Jim Kelly and James Lofton and former Bills O.J. Simpson, Billy Shaw, and Joe DeLaimelleure.

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