Bills fall to Chargers

The biggest factor in this seasons incarnation of the San Diego Chargers is the play of quarterback Phillip Rivers who made a star out of Antonio Gates last week and Eddie Royal this week.

“Philip just opens up everybody,” receiver Malcom Floyd said. “We’ve got all kind of weapons on the field. It’s pretty much just picking your poison.”

Just seven days post Rivers/Gates combo for 21 points, Royal finished the game against the Bills with four catches for 42 yards and two touchdowns.

“It’s key, no matter who’s in there,” Royal said. “It’s great when you’ve got a lot of guys that can make plays.”  “We were tired of getting field goals,” Royal said about ending the drive with a TD. “It’s great to get points, but we wanted to score a touchdown.”

The Bills (2-1) are preparing this week for the Houston Texans (2-1) who seem to be a pretty even match up on paper.  Of course, we all now that is why they play the games.  Be sure to get your tickets, Bills fans and come out and support your Buffalo Bills in Texas!  Great seats and cheap tickets are still available!

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Peyton’s Broncos to Open 2012 NFL Season Against Steelers

The September 9 game, announced by the NFL on Tuesday along with the full 2012 schedule, will be the first in 20 months for the four-time Most Valuable Player, who was cut by the Indianapolis Colts in March after missing the 2011 campaign recovering from neck surgery.

“The opening game in Denver obviously will be an interesting way to start the season,” Steelers’ President Art Rooney said in a statement.

“There will be a lot of attention paid to Peyton Manning’s first game with the Denver Broncos, so it’ll be exciting to start out that way.”

Plenty of attention on the first Sunday of the season will also be paid to the New Orleans Saints when the scandal-ravaged team hosts the Washington Redskins, who are expected to draft Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III next week.

Saints coach Sean Payton is suspended the entire season for his part in a scheme that paid bonuses to players for knocking opponents out of games, several players could still be banned and quarterback Drew Brees is dealing with a contract dispute.

Tim Tebow, who was released by the Broncos to make way for Manning, could make his Big Apple debut when the New York Jets host the Buffalo Bills in Week One.

Opening week will also feature a Monday Night double-header with the Cincinnati Bengals visiting the Baltimore Ravens and the Oakland Raiders hosting the San Diego Chargers.

“From our team’s standpoint and our fans’ standpoint, I don’t know that you could put together a more exciting schedule when you look at the number of great teams we play and when we play them,” Chargers head coach Norv Turner said in a statement.

“We start our offseason program on Monday and I think it really gives our guys something to look forward to. It should give our guys great motivation.”

The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will add another chapter to their long-standing rivalry when they open Week Two with a Thursday meeting at Lambeau Field, while defensive end Mario Williams, who left the Houston Texans to join the Buffalo Bills in the biggest off-season signing after Manning, makes his home debut against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Williams, the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player, will face his former team when the Bills visit the Texans on November 1 for a Week Nine game.

The U.S. Thanksgiving Day lineup will see familiar names suiting up November 22 as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots visit the rival New York Jets, Houston heads to the Motor City to face the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys host Washington.

Two games will be played outside the United States as the St. Louis Rams and Patriots play at London’s Wembley Stadium on October 28 while the Buffalo Bills make their annual visit to Toronto for a December 16 game against the Seattle Seahawks.

The NFL had already announced that the regular season will kick off September 5 with the champion New York Giants hosting the division rival Dallas Cowboys.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Brady Leads Pats to Top Seed, Beats Bills 49-21

Down by three touchdowns? Simply score the next 49 points and beat the Buffalo Bills 49-21. Trailing 17-0 a week earlier? Stay calm and come back for a 27-24 win over the Miami Dolphins.

“You never want to get down 21-0,” Brady said after the Patriots did just that on Sunday. “But, if we do, we do and we have to find a way to battle back.”

That’s what they did after the Bills scored touchdowns on their first three possessions.

“There’s no panic,” Brady said. “I just feel like it’s really a matter of execution and we started executing better.”

With the win, the Patriots (13-3) earned the AFC’s top seed for the second straight season and home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. They have a bye next weekend, giving them plenty of time to figure out how to avoid a rough start against a much tougher team than Buffalo and Miami, who both finished at 6-10.

“We don’t want to be doing that,” Rob Gronkowski said. “It’s the playoffs now. We’ve got the best teams coming in the house.”

Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes and set the NFL single-season record for tight ends with 1,327 yards receiving after gaining 108 on eight catches. That broke the mark of 1,310 set earlier Sunday by Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints. The previous record of 1,290 was set in 1980 by Kellen Winslow of the San Diego Chargers.

The record came on a 22-yard completion from backup Brian Hoyer with 1:30 left, a play that coach Bill Belichick called.

“I thought he deserved another chance to go up and try to make another play,” Belichick said. “He’s had a great year and he’s worked hard. I thought he deserved that.”

Brady also reached a milestone, finishing the regular season with the second most yards passing in NFL history, 5,235, after throwing for 338. Drew Brees, who last week broke Dan Marino’s record of 5,084 with the Miami Dolphins in 1984, added 389 Sunday for the Saints and ended with 5,486.

“I play this game for one reason and that’s to win,” Brady said after the Patriots’ eighth straight victory. “It’s not something I ever (think), ‘Man, I love throwing touchdowns,’ or ‘I love throwing for yards.’ I love winning and that helps me sleep at night.”

The Bills, their early season promise drowned by a horrible second half, could have plenty of restless nights. They lost eight of their last nine games after starting at 5-2.

“It was a big learning experience and next year it can’t be a learning experience for us,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “It’s got to be a year we come out and play well all year. We’re going to have another offseason in the same system.”

The Bills led a 21-0 on a 4-yard run by Tashard Choice and Fitzpatrick’s scoring passes of 18 yards to Stevie Johnson and 15 yards to C.J. Spiller. The Patriots made it 21-14 at halftime on a 1-yard run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis and a 39-yard pass play from Brady to Aaron Hernandez, who ran with the ball most of the way.

New England cut that to 21-20 on field goals of 47 and 20 yards by Stephen Gostkowski, then went ahead to stay on Brady’s 17-yard pass to Gronkowski. The Patriots kept going with a 3-yard touchdown run by Green-Ellis, a 7-yard scoring pass to Gronkowski with 3:07 left and a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown by Sterling Moore just 7 seconds later.

“When you get them in a big hole like that, you’ve just got to put your foot on the neck,” Bills cornerback Drayton Florence said, “and we weren’t able to do that.”

Buffalo’s offense struggled after losing wide receiver Stevie Johnson, who was benched, and tight end Scott Chandler, who hurt his knee, in the first half.

“It slowed us down,” Fitzpatrick said.

Coach Chan Gailey didn’t use Johnson after he was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct when he scored and raised his jersey to reveal an undershirt with the message “Happy New Year!” on it.

“I can’t complain about it or whine and pout. He made his decision and I am going with it,” Johnson said. “What I did hurt my teammates.”

The Patriots defense also stepped up with four interceptions, all in the second half. Fitzpatrick completed 29 of 46 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. Brady was 23 for 35 for 338 with three touchdown passes and one interception.

New England set the NFL record for most yards passing allowed, 4,727. The previous mark of 4,541 was set by the Atlanta Falcons in 1995.

The competition should be tougher in their next game, so that defense will have to be stingier. Especially early in the game.

“Every team in the playoffs is good,” Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo said. “To be honest, it would be tough to come back against them if we’re behind 21-0.”

Notes: Belichick became the only coach in NFL history with at least 13 regular-season wins in five different seasons. … The Patriots outgained the Bills 296 yards to 107 in the second half. … Rookie Stevan Ridley led the Patriots with a career-high 81 yards rushing. … Wes Welker had six catches for 51 yards and led the NFL with 122 receptions and 1,569 yards receiving.

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