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Sans Edwards, Bills fall hard in Arizona

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Edwards injured on third play of game (Associated Press)

To quote Anchorman: "Boy, that escalated quickly... I mean, that really got out of hand fast."  J.P. Losman couldn't retaliate with a trident.  Not-so-obscure pop culture references aside, the Buffalo Bills can no longer count themselves amongst the NFL's unbeaten teams.

Trent Edwards suffered a concussion on the third play of the game, and an abysmal defensive effort by the Bills led to a 41-17 loss in the desert to the Arizona Cardinals.

Buffalo is 4-1 heading into the bye week, and the health of Edwards will be the main topic of interest over the next two weeks.  Edwards was injured on a hit by Cardinals strong safety Adrian Wilson (pictured to the right); he was on the turf for a number of moments, walked off of the field with assistance, was carted to the locker room and did not return.  I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more about Edwards in the coming days.

Defense can't stop Warner
It was a poor defensive effort, however, that was the main culprit in Buffalo's first loss of the season.  Cardinals QB Kurt Warner enjoyed one of the better performances of his career, completing 33 of 42 passes for 250 yards and two scores in a dominant offensive outing for Arizona.  The Cards didn't make too many big plays through the air, but they didn't have to; Arizona held the ball for over 36 minutes in this one and wore down Buffalo's defense from the start.  Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower combined for 3 rushing scores.

Coming into this game, Buffalo's defense led the league by a wide margin in third down defense, holding opponents to around a 20% conversion rate.  The Cardinals weren't listening; they converted 9 of 15 third-down opportunities (60%) to control the ball, and the Bills couldn't make a play defensively to counter their dominance.  It was quite out of character for this Bills defense; rest assured we'll be looking for reasons why in some more in-depth film reviews this week.

Losman keeps things interesting... for a while
J.P. Losman replaced Edwards early in the first quarter and kept things interesting for a time.  Trailing 14-0, Losman found Lee Evans wide open for an 87-yard touchdown to cut the lead in half; he later scored on a quarterback draw in the first half to cut the lead to 21-14, which Arizona extended by halftime.

Losman's stat line looks OK (15 completions in 21 attempts, 220 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 101.2 QB rating), but it doesn't tell the whole story.  He didn't get much help from his defense, to be certain, but Losman took 5 sacks, lost two fumbles and threw an interception, killing any faint hopes of another fourth-quarter comeback attempt.  Losman doesn't deserve blame for the loss by any stretch of the imagination, but his errors certainly didn't help the cause.

Falling behind early, the Bills never had a chance to establish the offensive balance that was so crucial to their success on the day.  Marshawn Lynch finished with 55 yards on 13 carries, Fred Jackson carried once for five yards, and the Bills had their worst offensive performance of the season.  That was bound to happen, however, with Edwards out of the lineup and the defense performing so poorly.

Game Balls
None.  There are no awards in a losing effort.  We can only hope that these young Bills use this effort as motivation to continue to get better.  The Bills simply ran into a buzz saw in Arizona; the Cardinals are a very good football team (clearly the best team in the NFC West) with a huge home-field advantage, and the Bills were missing their leader.  Take this loss with a grain of salt; it's unfortunate, but it's also very clearly not the end of the world.

Oh, and Mr. Edwards?  Get well soon.

Open Thread Roll Call
Thanks to the 40 folks who stopped by to share in today's misery.  WABillsFan paced the day with 161 comments.  The roll call...

Ron From NM, RabidBuffalo, NYTXFAN, StuckInNJ, Cinga, Calvert, twoeightnine, silverstreak3k, big john, tlowe52, GhostDogg47, fletcherjd, jdol1568, NJBillsfan, TheSharp, illeagle12, WABillsfan, Zumone, Tony_O, Hassanali181, Crizal, the Skycap, Memphisbillsfan, dontuan, mjt1586, chaosthepitbull, Kurupt, keuka121, BeastMode, jj24, SebastianPruiti, Dyl, Joe P., CB #37, geno227, BearsNecessity, BillsNorth, grego32, Hopefulcynic