Buffalo, NY - A costly fourth-quarter fumble turned a potential surprise victory into a disappointing collapse for the Buffalo Bills in their 2009 opener.
They'll try to rebound Sunday when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the first time.
The Bills appeared headed to an upset win at New England on Monday night but squandered an 11-point lead with just over 2 minutes to play to fall 25-24.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Bills –5.5 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 63% of bets for this game have been placed on the Bills –5.5 (View NFL bet percentages).
The momentum appeared to shift once Buffalo gave up an 18-yard touchdown pass with 2:06 remaining. Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin then lost a fumble on the ensuing kickoff after opting to run it out of the end zone, getting stripped of the ball while fighting for extra yardage.
With 50 seconds remaining, Tom Brady threw another TD to drop the Bills, while McKelvin returned home to find his front lawn vandalized with an obscenity and the final score painted on it.
"I chose to bring it out because that's me," McKelvin said. "If I had that choice, probably 100 times, I'd do it again. Next time I get the opportunity, I've just got to do my job and make sure I hold onto the ball."
Coach Dick Jauron doesn't see a need to use someone else on kickoff returns.
"It was one of those things that happen, but I don't have any problem with Leodis," he said. "He's a guy that plays hard. He's a guy that really could take it to the house."
Jauron might be more concerned with getting Terrell Owens more involved after he caught two passes for 46 yards Monday. The outspoken wide receiver, who missed most of the exhibition season with a sprained toe, didn't talk after the defeat.
"He's obviously a big-time weapon in our offense and we need to keep getting him the ball," quarterback Trent Edwards said. "He's a competitor. I've said that all along. And that's rubbing off on the rest of us. That's why we're competing for four quarters there and having a guy like that in the locker room, on the field with us, frustrated or not, he's still raising the level of our game.
"We need to feed off that."
Edwards is looking to build on a solid performance. He completed 15 of 25 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns but was sacked four times.
Edwards now faces a Buccaneers defense that gave up 462 yards - 344 through the air - in a 34-21 home loss to Dallas last Sunday.
Buffalo's defense has been hit by a pair of injuries after allowing 441 yards, 368 passing.
The unit will be without middle linebacker Paul Posluszny for about six weeks due to a broken bone in his left arm, while end Chris Kelsay is day-to-day with a knee injury.
Posluszny will likely be replaced by Marcus Buggs, who's appeared in five games since being signed to the practice squad last season.
The Bills are 2-6 against the Buccaneers, but all of those meetings have come in Tampa. The Bucs won 19-3 in the last matchup Sept. 18, 2005.
They are also stinging from their season-opening loss, which featured a pair of long second-half touchdown passes by Tony Romo.
"I don't know if they feel any worse than we do," coach Raheem Morris said of the Bills' defeat compared to his team's. "A loss is a loss. There's no moral victories.
"There's no way to go into a stadium and come out and say 'man, we lost that game, but we really did good.' No, you don't. You go home and sit on your coach and go 'whoa is me' for 12 hours then you get up and come back to work. You can't go in there and think about how you just lost or what could've happened or what should've happened or you'll lose the next week."
One bright spot for Tampa Bay was the play of Byron Leftwich, who completed 25 of 41 passes for 276 yards and a touchdown.
Leftwich also has a solid ground game to rely on, as Carnell Williams and Derrick Ward accounted for 159 of the Buccaneers' 174 rushing yards while each scoring a TD.
Posted: 9/16/09 7:57PM ET