Rookie QB Edwards, banged-up D key Bills 17-14 win over Jets

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP)—Trent Edwards did more than deliver the Buffalo Bills a much-needed victory at a time when his demoralized and banged-up team needed it most.

The rookie third-round pick, making his first career start, took a big step in showing that he—and not J.P. Losman—might be the Bills’ quarterback of the future.

Edwards is most definitely the quarterback of the present after a poised and efficient performance in a 17-14 win over the New York Jets on Sunday.

Not even coach Dick Jauron could deny that.

“I’ve always said, nobody’s job is secure,” Jauron said, when asked whether Losman will get his job back once he returns from a sprained knee. “From week to week, we play whoever we think is the best guy. So we’ll see where it goes.”

Losman is expected to miss another week after spraining his left knee during the first series of a 38-7 loss at New England last weekend.

Edwards’ performance—he went 22-of-28 for 234 yards passing and a touchdown—plus a big assist from a suddenly stout defense ended the Bills’ spiral following an 0-3 start.

The win gave Buffalo a palpable sense of hope after weeks of lopsided losses, and after watching player after player placed on injured reserve, including tight end Kevin Everett, who’s recovering from a severe spinal cord injury.

The Bills’ defense was inspired to do the rest, producing two late interceptions to seal the victory.

Jabari Greer’s interception set up Michael Gaines’ 1-yard touchdown reception that put Buffalo ahead 17-7 midway through the fourth quarter. Then, Terrence McGee’s interception at the Bills 31 ended the Jets’ last-gasp drive with 6 seconds remaining.

“Despite everything that has happened, I think this shows the true character of the team,” defensive end Chris Kelsay said. “We stick together and you don’t hear any bickering out of us.”

New York was unable to build off a 31-28 win over Miami last week and is off to its second 1-3 start in three years.

Laveranues Coles’ 5-yard touchdown catch tied it at 7 late in the third quarter, and Leon Washington’s 8-yard scamper made it close with 3 minutes left.

New York, however, couldn’t take advantage of Chad Pennington completing a career-high 32 passes—out of 39—for 290 yards.

“You certainly don’t imagine yourself starting off like this, but this is the position we’re in,” Pennington said. “The answers lie in our own locker room.”

Penalties are a start, after the Jets were flagged nine times for 65 yards.

The Jets couldn’t take advantage of a defense that has three players on injured reserve and was down to its fifth linebacker, Leon Joe. Great field position didn’t help, either, as New York managed two scores despite five drives into Bills territory.

And the Jets defense proved too soft in coverage, underestimating Edwards’ ability.

“He threw the ball more than we expected,” defensive end Shaun Ellis said. “We knew he was a talented quarterback. We didn’t think he’d do this to us. But he did.”

Did he ever.

Edwards, who completed nine consecutive passes during one stretch, was at his most poised when he hit Gaines in the end zone to convert a fourth-and-goal with 7 minutes left. Jauron initially sent the field-goal unit out before realizing the Bills were a half-yard away.

With Edwards, the Bills produced their most points, total yards (304), yards passing, first downs (19) and first TD passing of the season.

None of that—not even questions of replacing Losman—mattered to Edwards, the Stanford product who was recommended by one Hall of Fame coach, the late Bill Walsh, and drafted by another, Buffalo general manager Marv Levy.

“All I’m worried about is winning,” said Edwards, who was wildly inconsistent in going 10-for-20 for 97 yards passing against New England last week. “For all that hard work and extra hours I put in, it was something that was very enjoyable.”

Bills rookie running back Marshawn Lynch continued a string of strong performances, with 79 yards on a season-best 27 carries and a touchdown—his third in four games.

“It felt good,” tight end Robert Royal said. “It was real important just to get our morale up. Today was one of those games it finally went our way.”

Notes

Edwards was the first Bills rookie quarterback to win his first career start since Joe Ferguson in 1973. … With 12,554 career yards passing, Pennington moved ahead of Vinny Testaverde into fourth place on the Jets’ list. … Bills WR Lee Evans had six catches for 72 yards—far surpassing the five catches for 29 yards he had in his first three games.

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