JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -The Buffalo Bills are facing one banged-up team after another.
The Bills opened the season with a 34-10 victory against injury-riddled Seattle, manhandling an offense that played without receivers Deion Branch, Bobby Engram and Ben Obomanu, and then lost running back Maurice Morris (knee) and receiver Nate Burleson (knee) during the game.
They will try to do the same Sunday against Jacksonville, which is piecing together an offensive line that has lost three starters.
If the Bills (1-0) can do it, they will have their first 2-0 start since 2003. The Jaguars (0-1), meanwhile, are trying to rally around a few backups and avoid their first 0-2 start since that same season.
We know that last week wasn't good enough, and despite the circumstances, there's no excuse,'' said Jacksonville guard Uche Nwaneri, expected to make his second career start.We know what has to be done. We understand that this week has to be better, and we're going to be better.''
The Jaguars figure things have to improve after last week's 17-10 debacle at Tennessee.
Right guard Maurice Williams ruptured his right biceps in pregame warmups, tried to play through the injury, but was beaten twice in the first series and then benched. Left guard Vince Manuwai tore two ligaments in his right knee in the second half and had to be helped off the field.
Running backs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew were bottled up after every handoff, gaining a combined 31 yards on the ground. David Garrard was sacked seven times, hit way more often and hurried into three errors: two interceptions and a fumble.
``Their defense really whipped us,'' coach Jack Del Rio said.
Jacksonville's offense was the main problem, but not the only one. Josh Scobee missed a short field goal, the defense gave up 137 yards rushing and got burned for 44 yards on a third-and-15 play late in the fourth quarter - a pass from the backup quarterback to a tight end.
``That game's not going to dictate the season,'' cornerback Rashean Mathis said.
This one might.
Jacksonville has started 0-2 twice in franchise history (1995, 2003), and didn't win more than five games in either season. So losing to the Bills would, at the very least, be a bad omen.
A victory for Buffalo would mean much more.
I think in order to be a playoff-caliber football team, you need to win road football games against playoff-type teams,'' Bills quarterback Trent Edwards said.We need to win games like that in tough environments, and that's what we're going to face Sunday.''
The environment could be one of the toughest the Bills will face this season. The Jaguars are 5-1 at home in September the last four years, taking advantage of still-sweltering summer heat and humidity that saps energy and leaves opponents sucking down fluids, gasping for air and trying to find a seat in the shade or in front of one of those oversized sideline cooling fans.
Forecasts call for it to be sunny, with a high of 93 degrees and 64 percent humidity - exactly what the Jaguars want against a team from the northeast.
It's going to be hot and we love it,'' defensive end Paul Spicer said.I hope it's a thousand degrees out there. I hope the ground's on fire. It can be an advantage for us and we'll take it.''
Bills coach Dick Jauron witnessed the effects of Florida's sun on opponents when he was Jacksonville's defensive coordinator from 1995-98.
There is not anything you can do to prepare for the heat except eat the right foods, drink the right liquids, get your body ready and then we get down there, we have to be smart,'' Jauron said.We'll rotate players in and out, and we'll deal with it.''
Although Del Rio acknowledged the weather could be a factor, he doesn't want to rely on it.
If something happens that gives you an advantage, great, but I don't think you can plan for anything,'' Del Rio said.Whether it's hot, whether it's cold, whether you're sore, whether you're tired, all those factors, they don't become a part of your mentality if you're playing well. It doesn't matter if it's 20 below, doesn't matter if it's 110, if you're playing good football, you're playing good football and that's what the focus is.
``I think the teams that feel it are the teams that aren't playing well.''
The Bills played very well last week, getting big plays from a balanced offense, forcing 11 punts with an aggressive defense and adding a 63-yard score on special teams. Three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud plans to have his teammates ready again, wanting to play spoiler as he returns to Jacksonville after getting traded during the offseason.
He also will face three backups along the offensive line. Center Brad Meester (biceps) is still out a few more weeks, and Manuwai and Williams were placed on injured reserve, leaving the Jaguars trying to avoid suffering the same fate as the Seahawks.
Nobody's feeling sorry for us,'' linebacker Mike Peterson said.Buffalo's not going to come in here feeling sorry for us, and Stroud's definitely not going to feel sorry for those guys up front. We've got to patch it up and keep rolling.''