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Drawing first blood: slow starts doom Bills

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Even with talents like RB Lynch, Bills start slowly (buffalobills.com)

It's a mantra in the NFL for good reason: starting fast sets the tone for a given game. How many times have good teams scraped by bad ones because the bad ones got off to a hot start in a game? How many times have great teams beaten upstart teams with momentum because of a quick 10-0 lead? It happens all the time. The best teams in the league impose their will and grab the lead early in the game; that's just how it works. It's a part of the game at which the Buffalo Bills fail miserably.

Once upon a time - i.e. 2006, Dick Jauron's first year as head coach of this franchise - the Bills actually excelled at drawing first blood. Buffalo scored first in 10 of 16 games played, a pretty solid statistic considering how deprived of talent that particular Bills team was. The Bills were 6-4 in games in which they drew first blood and 1-5 otherwise.

In 2007, things shifted slightly for the worse. The Bills played half of their season - eight games - with an early deficit, slightly up from the six in 2006. The Bills in 2007 were 5-3 in games in which they scored first, and 2-6 otherwise.

This season, however, has been a complete reversal from the first two seasons of Jauron's tenure. Through 12 games, the Bills have scored first in just four of them. Opponents have drawn first blood in six consecutive games. The Bills are 4-0 this season in games where they scored first, and 2-6 in the rest.

Add it up! The Bills have played 44 games under Dick Jauron. In exactly half of them, the Bills scored first. They're 15-7 in those games; suffice it to say that a .682 winning percentage would be welcome in these parts. In the other half of games - games in which they're attempting to climb out of an early deficit - they're 5-17 (.227). You do the math. It's important everywhere, but based on the numbers, fast starts are of the utmost importance in Buffalo. And the Bills, week after week, can't start fast.

Blame it on whatever you want. Lack of preparation; awful play-calling; deferring on the opening kickoff; there are plenty of opportunities to find blame. All I know is this: Buffalo has got to start finding a way to take some leads, rather than play from behind. We do it far too often, and it's become a mini-curse for this young team. If the Bills hope to win out and miraculously grab that mythical playoff berth, they'd better learn how to grab an early lead, and fast.