|Bills forced to bus home after playoff hopes dashed in Cleveland|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 17 December 2007 11:45|
Bad enough that a blizzard contributed to Buffalo's loss at Cleveland on Sunday, ending the team's playoff chances. Then, following an unscheduled overnight stay because of bad weather, the Bills were forced to bus home Monday after their charter plane got stuck in mud off a runway in Cleveland.
``It seems like when it rains it pours. But in this case it's snow,'' defensive end Chris Kelsay told The Associated Press by phone as the Bills' five-bus caravan left Cleveland. ``It's definitely been an odd weekend.''
Sure, like something out of ``Planes, Trains and Automobiles.''
Only the Bills found nothing funny from this script.
Buffalo (7-7) was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention following an 8-0 loss to the Browns. The game was played in conditions so horrendous it was nearly impossible to track a team's exact field position because of the snow that blanketed the Cleveland Browns Stadium turf.
Buffalo managed 11 first downs and 232 yards offense, and didn't threaten to score until a last-minute drive ended when running back Fred Jackson was tackled for no gain on fourth-and-5 at the Browns 10.
``It was just unfortunate our playoffs hopes were squashed yesterday in the conditions we played in,'' Kelsay said. ``We knew it was going to be cold. It's just unfortunate that the field was in as bad shape as it was. The conditions were definitely a big part.''
Even the Browns' potent offense was stifled, limited to two field goals. Their other two points came on a safety after Buffalo's Ryan Neill snapped the ball over punter Brian Moorman's head.
The loss came after the Bills had won six of their previous eight games, the team showing resilience in rallying from a 1-4 start and overcoming a rash of injuries. Buffalo entered the game at Cleveland with 14 players on the season-ending injured reserve list.
Buffalo will now miss the playoffs for an eighth straight season, the longest drought in franchise history.
Not including Houston, which rejoined the NFL in 2002, Buffalo, Detroit and Arizona are the league's only teams that haven't made the playoffs this decade. Arizona's streak is the longest, dating to 1998.
The Bills are now relegated to the role of spoiler as they prepare to host the New York Giants (9-5) in their home finale Sunday.
``We'd like to get a win there and finish the season on a high note with two more victories,'' Kelsay said.
At least they got home safely, the team arriving in Buffalo at around 12:30 p.m., some 14 hours later than expected.
Unable to fly out of Cleveland following the game, the Bills booked back into the hotel where they stayed Saturday night. The team was also treated to dinner courtesy of safety Donte Whitner and receiver Lee Evans, both Cleveland natives.
Whitner lined up the catering company, Taste of Faith, which provided a meal of soul food dishes at the team's hotel.
The Bills' travel luck turned against them again Monday morning. That's when the pilot of their charter plan took too wide a turn from one taxi way to another at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and the front wheel of the plane got stuck, airport spokeswoman Pat Smith said. The team was not on board the plane.
``It wasn't snowing at the time. We don't know why he did this,'' Smith said.
The Bills had just arrived at the airport by bus when they were told about the plane.
``It was kind of scary,'' linebacker John DiGiorgio said. ``We hoped everyone was safe on it.''
DiGiorgio wasn't bothered by having to bus home, something he got used to while playing at Division II Saginaw Valley State in Michigan.
``We took buses everywhere,'' DiGiorgio said. ``We took an 11-hour bus ride one time to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. So nothing new for me.''
Players were given the rest of the day off and are not scheduled back until Wednesday, when they resume practice.
Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold said this was the first time the team experienced weather-related travel problems since 1995. Then, the Bills were flying back following a late-season win at St. Louis and were forced to land 20 miles away at Niagara Falls Airport because of a winter storm. The team spent the night at Niagara Falls, before finally getting home the following day.
``That's the way it goes this time of year,'' Berchtold said. ``Everybody's fine.''