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Bills, Bucs eager to make up for Week 1 losses

Posted Sep 19, 2009

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -There's a joke going around town regarding what Buffalo Bills fans should do to make it up to Leodis McKelvin after the cornerback's front lawn was defaced with an obscenity this past week.

Perhaps, the idea was raised, someone should spray-paint a big ``WE'RE SORRY!'' on the same plot of grass in front of his home.

McKelvin laughed when hearing about it. Apology accepted from a player who has several reasons to put this week behind him as Buffalo prepares for its home opener against Tampa Bay on Sunday.

McKelvin's not pressing charges against the two teens who admitted to police they defaced his property following Buffalo's season-opening 25-24 loss at New England on Monday. And it's better for McKelvin to look forward after his fumble on a kickoff return contributed to the Bills blowing an 11-point lead.

``It's the second week of football,'' McKelvin said. ``Right now, it's all about Tampa Bay.''

The Buccaneers have recent bad memories of their own they'd like to erase, particularly on defense. A once-stingy unit allowed one long pass after another - four of more than 40 yards, and three of them for touchdowns - in a 34-21 loss against Dallas last weekend.

``We're just blowing coverages, and that's just unacceptable,'' veteran cornerback Ronde Barber said. ``The sense of urgency appreciates especially after you have a loss like that.''

Welcome to an early-season matchup between non-conference rivals with very little history between them. Through a quirk of NFL scheduling, Tampa Bay is making its first regular-season visit to Orchard Park.

Differences aside, these are two teams with plenty of questions to address.

The Bucs' once-dominant defense is suddenly leaking a few holes. In giving up a whopping 462 yards against Dallas, the Buccaneers have now surrendered an average 390 yards over their past six games that count.

That's uncharacteristic of a unit that's been among the NFL's best this decade. And it's enough to have rookie coach Raheem Morris expecting opponents, starting with the Bills, to continue testing the far limits of the defensive backfield.

``You are what your tape says you are, and I know (the Bills) are going to try and capitalize on that,'' Morris said. ``It's our turn to try and step up. Our guys have to accept the challenge.''

The defense is in transition after Tampa Bay elected not to re-sign 11-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks. The Bucs are also without starting safety Tanard Jackson, suspended by the NFL for the first four games for violating the league's substances of abuse policy.

``Tanard Jackson we do miss, but we can't make excuses,'' Morris said.

At least there's nothing wrong with their offense, which, behind Byron Leftwich and a two-pronged running attack, generated 450 yards, the fifth-best total in a home game in franchise history. Not bad for a team that changed coordinators by firing Jeff Jagodzinski and promoting Greg Olson on Sept. 3.

The Bills did the same thing a day later, firing Turk Schonert and promoting Alex Van Pelt.

And yet questions remain whether the Bills' passing attack has more than a dink-and-dunk dimension to it after receiver Terrell Owens matter-of-factly said quarterback Trent Edwards missed a couple of opportunities to go deep against the Patriots.

``It's always a work in progress, and Trent has to better assess what he's seeing out there and take some shots down the field,'' he said. Owens, however, noted that he's satisfied with how the offense played and suggested that with a little bit more efficiency, ``I think we'll be headed in the right direction.''

Edwards was efficient in going 15 of 25 for 212 yards and two touchdowns against New England. But most of his attempts came on screens or to underneath receivers, with Owens and fellow wideout Lee Evans combining for five catches for 71 yards.

Van Pelt found it difficult to argue with T.O.'s assessment.

``There's always room for improvement, absolutely. And Terrell's right, there were some opportunities,'' Van Pelt said. ``But for the most part, I thought Trent did a great job as far as getting it to the right receivers.''

An even bigger question is the Bills' resilience, and how quickly this relatively young team can bounce back from a demoralizing loss. Punter Brian Moorman looked at the bright side, noting how the Bills answered many of their skeptics by nearly beating New England.

``Nobody gave us a chance,'' Moorman said. ``I believe this team learned something from that. We still have a lot to prove. But I believe that we've got good things to come.''

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