Lowly Bills have good company

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

Comedians and joke writers will have to find another target now that the Buffalo Bills have finally broken their oh-for following eight consecutive defeats.

In looking for a different team to slag, the cheap-shot artists need look no further than the team that Buffalo finally beat -- the Detroit Lions.

In a truly 'The King is dead, long live the King' scenario, the Bills 0-8 goose egg has been cracked but the one that belongs to the Lions remains firmly intact.

"Great to get a win," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "I thought our guys, as they have the last four weeks, have fought hard. It was a tough game. We were able to pull it out this time. I told them I was proud of the way they continued to work and continued to fight because a lot of teams wouldn't have."

With their 14-12 loss, the Lions extended their road losing skid to an unfathomable 25 games with no end in sight, thereby establishing an NFL record for utter futility.

That the Bills would beat the Lions was hardly a shocker and nothing compared to a couple of other games that kept this whacky NFL season spinning on its axis.

At 2-6, the dreadful Broncos dragged their sorry asses back to Denver from London and laid an absolute beating on the stunned division-leading Kansas City Chiefs.

But that was nothing to what occurred in the Meadowlands, where a team disguised as the Dallas Cowboys threw one big play after another at the high and mighty New York Giants and flattened them with ease.

That's just got to haunt owner Jerry Jones, who kept the faith with coach Wade Phillips for loss after loss only to gas him when their season was finished (1-7), now have his team do this kind of turnaround.

Was Phillips really that bad?

In other locales, you can pretty much kiss the Houston Texans goodbye with their last-second loss to Jacksonville, thereby dashing their playoff dreams.

Another wannabe taking it on the chin were the Tennessee Titans, who were dumped by the not-dead-yet Miami Dolphins.

Getting back to the Lions, to highlight how truly rotten they have been for the past decade, they held the previous mark of 24 consecutive road losses when they went 0-8 on the road for three consecutive seasons (2001-2003).

Must be something in the air in Hockey Town.

Adding to the depression of the Lions' fans is the likelihood that they won't find a victory on the road in their three remaining games away from home. Next week they are at Dallas and the Cowboys showed against the Giants that they have wakened from their first-half coma. Their final two road games are at Tampa, who would certainly rate far ahead of the Lions at this point, and at Miami against the Dolphins.

The Lions, if they knuckle down and don't do anything stupid, could be on an 0-for-28 run entering the 2011 season.

It doesn't help when your quarterback of the future, Matthew Stafford, is out of action and likely facing season-ending shoulder surgery. That will knock Stafford out for the rest of this season and who knows how the future will be.

Getting back to the Bills, this win didn't come out of thin air.

The past three weeks they lost all three by three points, including two in overtime which kept both the players and the faithful in a positive mood heading into this one.

"We won't go 0-16," Bills safety Donte Whitner said this week. "I'm not going to guarantee it, but we will not go 0-16."

Last week, following the game at Rogers Centre, the Bills were bemoaning the loss of their home crowd, which they refer to as their "12th man."

But perhaps more important than the zealousness of the home crowd was the weather that greeted both teams. It was cool, wet and windy, typical of Ralph Wilson stadium in November which is just the way the Bills like it.

It's not the conditions that favour a dome-based team such as the Lions.

Typical of the Bills, they had to make their fans sweat this one out.

Leading 14-2 in the third quarter, the Bills appeared to ice the game on a punt return for a touchdown but the play was called back on a penalty that kept the Lions in the game.

With just under six minutes left in the game, the Lions booted a second field goal making it 14-6 and the thought of a late Detroit TD and two-point conversion began to haunt the 56,721 in attendance.

Those fears gained momentum when the Lions got the ball back with about four minutes left on their own 12-yard line and everybody in the stadium knew this would be the moment of truth. If the Bills could get the ball back it would be game over. If the Lions scored and took the game into overtime, it would be time for a blindfold and a cigarette.

So the Lions started to grind up the field, converting a fourth and five with 1:45 to go.

On they would march until they ran into an all-or-nothing play, fourth and five from the Bills 20.

The fans, expecting the worse, weren't disappointed as with 20 seconds left, Lions quarterback Shaun Hill found receiver Calvin Johnson in the end zone and now it was 14-12 and time to PANIC.

However, Hill couldn't connect on the two-point conversion, throwing high and out of the end zone, leaving an on-side kick as the Lions' last gasp.

This time the gambit didn't work, the Bills prevailed and in Buffalo they are once again talking proud.

Two big things stood out in the Rams-49ers thriller:

- The young Rams will go nowhere unless they can close out a game they are winning or if they can't put a 'W' up on the board on the road.

- Quarterback Alex Smith should start packing his bags, because his days in San Francisco are over. The 49ers are 2-0 with former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith heaving the ball and it's not so much that they have won, but the way they've won.

In victories over Denver in England two weeks ago and Sunday afternoon out on the west coast, Troy came up with big play after big play, which is something Alex seldom could.

Alex had the pedigree and all, but he was a QB who just couldn't inspire his teammates. Contrast this with the heroics engineered by Troy Smith, who led his team to victory even though they had three touchdowns called back by penalties.

As for the Rams, well, Sam Bradford rallied his team with a last-minute 70-yard drive that put them in position to tie the game 20-20. But leading 17-10 in the final quarter, the Rams had too many three-and-outs and couldn't put away a team that was questioning itself.


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