Bills Host Lions in Clash of Perennial Losers

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. The finally have their first win of the season. The own the NFL’s road futility record.

Fred Jackson ran for a season-best 133 yards and scored twice in leading the Bills (1-8) to a 14-12 win over the Lions on Sunday. Detroit (2-7) lost its 25th straight road game to break the record the Lions set from 2001-03.

And yes, this contest wasn’t pretty. It was played under rain-soaked conditions, befitting the sloppy — and sometimes laughable — performances of two perennial losers in a game that wasn’t decided until the final seconds.

That’s when Bills safety George Wilson recovered an onside kick and handed the ball to Chan Gailey, in honor of the coach’s first win in Buffalo since he took over in January.

The Lions, who never led, nearly pulled off a dramatic comeback when quarterback Shaun Hill hit Calvin Johnson for a 20-yard touchdown pass to cut the Bills lead to 14-12 with 14 seconds left. Hill failed on the 2-point conversion when he couldn’t find an open receiver, and eventually overthrew tight end Brandon Pettigrew in the back of the end zone.

The Bills became the NFL’s final team to win this season, and ended what had been their third-worst start to a season — and worst since going 0-11 in 1984.

The Lions have not won a game outside of Detroit in more than three years since a 16-7 victory at Chicago on Oct. 28, 2007.

Jackson opened the scoring with a 1-yard plunge two minutes into the second quarter. He then appeared to put the Bills in control by scoring on a 16-yard catch off a shovel pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick on Buffalo’s opening drive of the second half.

Fitzpatrick was 12 of 24 for 146 yards and a touchdown.

Hill finished 29 of 50 for 323 yards with a TD and an interception in making his first start in three games since breaking his left arm. Hill was forced back into action in place of Matthew Stafford, who hurt his right shoulder in a loss to the last week. Johnson had 10 catches for 128 yards.

Mistakes dominated a game between teams that haven’t reached the playoffs since the 1999 season, sharing the league’s longest active drought.

The Lions were penalized 11 times for 60 yards and had difficulty getting their offense going until the fourth quarter. They were forced to punt eight times. And Hill’s interception proved costly, setting up Jackson’s first score.

The Bills were equally inefficient.

Their defense squandered two chances to stop the Lions on their final possession of the first half, which ended with Dave Rayner hitting a 25-yard field goal to cut Buffalo’s lead to 7-3 as time ran out. The most comical play came when Bills linebacker Arthur Moats tipped Hill’s pass into the air, where three Bills players converged only to crash into each other and drop the ball.

Late in the third quarter, a holding penalty on Buffalo’s John Corto negated what would’ve been Leodis McKelvin’s 78-yard punt return for a touchdown with 5:40 left in the third quarter. And the Bills usually reliable kicker Rian Lindell missed a 41-yard field goal attempt wide right with the wind at his back at the end of the third quarter, which could’ve put Buffalo ahead 17-3.

Rayner, however, responded on the following possession by missing a 49-yard attempt wide right.

The Bills won despite losing rookie running back C.J. Spiller, who hurt his hamstring returning a punt in the second quarter. Buffalo also lost defensive end Spencer Johnson to a hamstring injury in the second half.

Rayner’s field goal was the first attempted and made by a Lions player other than Jason Hanson in 19 seasons. The Lions had signed Rayner this week after Hanson sprained his knee last week.

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Bills LB Merriman Out Indefinitely

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. A nagging injury is preventing linebacker Shawne Merriman from getting off on the right foot with his new team, the .

Coach Chan Gailey announced Thursday that Merriman will not play against Detroit (2-6) this weekend, and is out indefinitely after aggravating an injury to his right Achilles’ tendon in his first practice a day earlier.

The injury occurred early into Merriman’s first practice with the winless Bills (0-8), a week after he was claimed off waivers from San Diego. The injury is also to the same tendon that’s been bothering him for much of the past year.

“It’s short-term more than long-term, but we’ll just wait and see,” Gailey said. “We’ll see what happens next week, or it might be the next, I don’t know. We’re going to get him well. That’s the most important thing. Let’s get him well before we put him on the field.”

Merriman was hurt early into practice during an individual non-contact drill. After dropping back, Merriman pivoted to his left when he pulled up and began hopping in pain. After consulting with trainers, the player limped off the field and escorted into the team’s training facility.

Though he missed practice on Thursday, Merriman was at the facility receiving treatment but did not make himself available to reporters.

The injury is the latest setback for a once-feared pass rusher who earned the nickname “Lights Out” for his hard-hitting style in San Diego.

After registering 39½ sacks in his first three NFL seasons, Merriman’s managed just four in his past three years. He missed most of the 2008 season after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery.

His career in San Diego effectively ended last month when the placed him on injured reserve because of a left calf injury. Merriman had also complained about an injury to his Achilles’ tendon.

Merriman did pass a physical upon reporting to the Bills last weekend. And he was in street clothes on the Bills sideline, watching Buffalo’s 22-19 loss to Chicago at Toronto on Sunday.

On Monday, Merriman said he’s been working out the past few weeks, but didn’t know if he was in “football shape” yet. He was eager to begin playing.

“Whatever they want me to do, I’m there,” Merriman said. “We’re all on the same page in getting ready to go play football.”

The Bills were counting on Merriman’s pass-rush ability to spark a defense that’s had difficulty pressuring opposing quarterbacks. The lack of pressure is being blamed on Buffalo managing a league-worst one interception this season, a year after finishing second with 28.

“It’s not good,” linebacker Paul Posluszny said, when informed of Merriman’s status following practice. “It’s the opposite of good.”

In claiming Merriman, the Bills picked up the remainder of the player’s one-year $3.27 million contract.

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Bills Lose WR Parrish, LB Davis to Injuries

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. Not only have the been losing games, they just lost two significant players to injuries.

Starting receiver Roscoe Parrish won’t play again this season after sustaining a right wrist injury in Buffalo’s 22-19 loss to the Chicago Bears in Toronto on Sunday, and starting inside linebacker Andra Davis is done for the year because of a nagging shoulder injury that he originally sustained in the season-opening loss to Miami.

Parrish, who finished with 33 catches and a career-high 400 receiving yards, will need surgery to repair the damage.

“You don’t just replace guys that have been that productive,” coach Chan Gailey said Monday. “It’s an opportunity for somebody else to step up.”

Parrish was hurt on Buffalo’s next to last drive. On third-and-10 from the Chicago 44 with 2:31 left in regulation, he dove along the right sidelines to try and haul in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s pass, and wound up falling awkwardly on the wrist.

It’s the same wrist that forced Parrish to miss the first six games of his rookie season in 2005 when he broke it during training camp.

Parrish’s injury is a blow to an offense that has been improving. The diminutive receiver had emerged as a solid option for Fitzpatrick after a forgettable 2009 in which he had only three receptions. Parrish was also Buffalo’s best punt returner, averaging just under 11 yards on 12 returns this year. He came into the season with the fourth-highest punt return average (12.2 yards) in NFL history.

Gailey said the team will consider all of its options before either promoting Naaman Roosevelt, a Buffalo native, or Paul Hubbard from the practice squad, or simply signing a free agent to replace Parrish.

“We’ll see what the best fit might be for us at this point,” Gailey said.

Davis missed two games because of his shoulder injury, including Sunday’s loss to Chicago. The nine-year NFL veteran signed with the Bills this offseason to serve as the defensive play-caller as the team made the switch to a 3-4 defense.

The damaging news comes a day after Buffalo dropped to 0-8, the worst start since losing 11 straight to open the 1984 campaign. Fitzpatrick, though, has been part of a second-half turnaround, and thinks history can repeat itself.

In 2008, he played on a team that lost its first eight games, but the Bengals were able to salvage some respectability by going 4-3-1 over their final eight. That recovery helped set the tone for a 2009 campaign in which they won the AFC North at 10-6.

“This team, at least from an offensive standpoint, is probably more talented,” Fitzpatrick said when asked of the similarities between the two winless clubs. “That’s something that I look as a positive. We haven’t given up on the season.”

To the Bills credit, they haven’t rolled over in their last three gut-wrenching losses that included two straight overtime defeats. But one can’t take away the “bumbling” description when talking about the Bills quite yet, as big turnovers at inopportune times have kept victory No. 1 from their grasp.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been through something like this in my career,” receiver Lee Evans said. “It’s trying on you mentally and physically.”

Notes: The Bills also signed RB Quinton Ganther and released RB Andre Anderson and practice squad RB Rodney Ferguson Monday. Ganther has 262 yards rushing on 71 carries in 28 career NFL games. He was released by Seattle last Tuesday. … Sunday’s game against the will be the first played in Buffalo since the Bills lost 36-26 to the on Oct. 10. … Newly acquired LB Shawne Merriman said on Monday that he expects to practice Wednesday. The team didn’t practice on Monday. … Receiver Steve Johnson had his franchise-tying five-game touchdown reception streak snapped. … Fitzpatrick has thrown a touchdown strike in nine straight games dating back to last season, the longest franchise TD stretch since threw at least one pass for a score in 10 consecutive games in 2002.

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