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POLLOCK: For the resurgent Bills, this was team triumph

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Posted: Tuesday, November 6, 2007 12:00 am

ORCHARD PARK - Dick Jauron is the Steven Wright of NFL coaches.

Like the droll comic who never changes tone, the Bills' coach manages to mask meaningful comments in an unemotional delivery.

But he says a lot if you listen.

"I have never been through a first half of a season like this for all the reasons that you're aware of … all the injuries particularly Kevin's situation," he said after Sunday's impressive 33-21 victory over the struggling Bengals at "The Ralph."

His reference, was to the temporary paralysis suffered by backup tight end Kevin Everett while covering a kickoff in the heartbreaking, last-play, season-opening loss to Denver.

He's now walking, but his NFL career is over.

Then there were the three defensive starters - middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, free safety Ko Simpson and cornerback Jason Webster - who went on injured reserve, as well as No. 2 wide receiver Peerless Price.

Suffering the same fate were four backups, offensive linemen Aaron Merz and Jason Whittle, linebacker Kevin Harrison and defensive end Al Wallace.

Then there were defensive ends Ryan Denney, who missed seven games with a broken foot, and Anthony Hargrove who was out four games with a league-mandated substance abuse suspension.

Despite that, after an 0-3 start, the Bills have won three straight and four of five to reach the season's midway point at 4-4 and are two last-play losses from being 6-2.

"It's nothing new for you to hear," Jauron told the media after Sunday's game. "But I really like these guys, the way they respond and how they kind of pulled together."They're just a really good team. Where it goes we don't know … we just keep playing. They deserve a lot of credit because they really have been through a good deal but the good news is they've all gone through it together and have stayed together."

He added, "They just kept believing that they had a chance and could win. It's been really different, but especially since Kevin's doing well it's been a pretty good journey to this point, so we will see what happens."

WHAT WAS impressive about Sunday's win was that, with the notable exception of the normally outstanding kicking units, this was a team victory.

Quarterback J.P. Losman, playing for a chance to keep his job, was impressive, going 24-of-34 passing for 295 yards including an 8-yard TD connection with Lee Evans with one interception.

It seems inconceivable, even if Trent Edwards is healthy, that J.P. won't get the start Sunday in Miami.

"You can't argue with the outcome and that's the main thing … to get the W," Jauron said, when asked if Losman would be under center against the Dolphins. "Like we said all along, we really feel good about our young quarterbacks and JP put one up on the board today.

"We're kind of just enjoying this win and as usual we'll wait for any personnel decisions until Wednesday and certainly until I've had a chance to talk with the players."

Of course, a lot of Buffalo's offensive success was because of the inspired play of the line.

Losman never came close to being sacked and had gobs of time to pat the ball, look off receivers and go through his options.

But it wasn't just the quarterback and Evans (nine catches for 165 yards) who benefited.

Rookie running back Marshawn Lynch had his best game, rushing for 153 yards, including a game-clinching 56-yard TD sprint.

THEN, OF COURSE, there was the rapidly improving defense.

It held the Bengals' ground game to a microscopic 28 yards on 17 carries.

And though Carson Palmer went 26-of-39 passing for 271 yards and two touchdowns, 10 of his completions for 106 yards went to his backs on screens and checkdowns.

The two big weapons, wideouts T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson, combined for seven catches and 93 yards and a TD, less than half their normal production.

"It's unbelievable," Jauron said of the effort. "I think Perry (Fewell, coordinator) and the defensive staff had a terrific game plan. We changed up enough I think to make (Cincinnati) a little bit uneasy."

And it showed in the final score.

As Losman concluded, "We had a big opportunity to get to .500 and we're there. Now we just have to keep it rolling and focus on next week, taking it one week at a time, not looking ahead."

(Chuck Pollock is sports editor of the Olean Times Herald)

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