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NFL Spotlight

Losman is the star of Bills' late show

November 27, 2006|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

A few weeks ago, Buffalo Bills fans were calling for quarterback J.P. Losman's head.

A few more performances like the last two weeks and they might be calling for its bronzed likeness.

Losman, maligned almost since the day he became Buffalo's starter last season, has led last-minute, game-winning drives on consecutive Sundays.

A week after a 15-yard touchdown pass to Peerless Price with nine seconds left gave the Bills a 24-21 victory over Houston, Losman found Roscoe Parrish for a 30-yard gain that set up a game-winning field goal with three seconds to play in a 27-24 victory over Jacksonville.

This from a guy who was 4-12 as a starter in his career before the last two weeks and had led a Bills offense that did not score more than 20 points in its first seven games this season.

"We're feeling really, really tight," said Losman, a Venice High graduate.

It starts under center. Over the last two weeks, Losman has completed 47 of 66 passes (71%) for 509 yards and four touchdowns. In 21 previous career games, he was 254 for 457 (56%) with 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

"Guys do learn and if they don't they're not going to be in the league for very long," Bills Coach Dick Jauron said. "We're feeling more and more comfortable with his decision making. Not that he's there yet, but he's playing well."

The Bills (5-6) have won three of their last four and are only a game behind the New York Jets for second place in the AFC East. Losman said the improvement is a product of the entire team playing better.

"Last week was the start of it," he said. "There's a lot of people involved with making this thing right."

Getting offensive

Minnesota's offense finally held up its end of the bargain.

The Vikings, who had scored only four offensive touchdowns in four consecutive losses before Sunday, had four in a 31-26 victory over the Cardinals.

The Vikings defense, which had been holding opponents to an NFL-best 60.6 yards rushing a game, was growing increasingly impatient with an offense that constantly came up short in the red zone.

Quarterback Brad Johnson drew much of the criticism, because he had nine passes intercepted while he completed only one touchdown pass during the four-game losing streak, but he had three touchdowns without an interception Sunday.

"All season long, our problem is we've killed ourselves," Johnson said. "It was nice to see us score."

Getting defensive

Cincinnati began Sunday with the NFL's lowest-ranked defense, giving up 378 yards per game, but Cleveland managed only 203 against the Bengals, who won, 30-0, for their first shutout in 17 years.

"Our defense has taken a lot of criticism, so for them to get this shutout is huge," Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer said. "They got us fired up."

Cincinnati's last shutout came on Dec. 3, 1989, a span of 269 games.

Browns feeling blue

Tempers flared on the Cleveland sideline when receiver Braylon Edwards approached quarterback Charlie Frye and the two exchanged words.

At one point, a heated Edwards grabbed Frye by his jersey and teammates moved between them to calm things down.

"Me and Braylon are fine," said Frye, who had four passes intercepted. "Our biggest opponent right now is us. We have to get on the same page and fight together. We have to stop fighting each other."

Edwards declined to speak with reporters after the game. After getting dressed, he left the locker room, pausing to slap Frye on the backside before exiting.

Coach Romeo Crennel dismissed Edwards' behavior as "a young guy, a fiery competitor who wants this team to do good," but acknowledged that the entire team is down.

"This is pretty low," he said. "Last year I was pretty low too. I wasn't really expecting this."

Return to sender

Arizona's J.J. Arrington returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown against Minnesota and Adrian Wilson had a 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time a team had two returns -- kickoff, punt, interception or fumble -- of 99 yards or more was Oct. 14, 1962, when Amos Marsh had a 101-yard kickoff return and Mike Gaechter had a 100-yard interception return for Dallas.

Milestones

Drew Brees of the Saints set an NFL record for most yards passing in a five-game span with 1,954, seven more than Kurt Warner had with the Rams in 1997. Brees also became the sixth player with five consecutive 300-yard passing games.... Peyton Manning of the Colts became the fastest player in league history to reach 3,000 completions, accomplishing the feat in his 139th game. Dan Marino and Drew Bledsoe shared the previous record of 146 games.... Torry Holt of the Rams passed Jerry Rice for most yards receiving in the first eight seasons. Holt has 10,282 yards, nine more than Rice.

Injury report

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