On a day the Bills secondary was the most shorthanded it's been all season, rookie first-round draft choice Leodis McKelvin had the best game of his young pro career, bringing back memories of his days starring at Troy University.
"It felt like I was in college," McKelvin said. "My first pick in college went for a score in college."
In fact, McKelvin equaled his total interceptions his senior year at Troy Sunday, picking off Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Tyler Thigpen twice, returning one of the picks for a 64-yard touchdown that gave the Bills a 20-14 lead they never relinquished on a day when Buffalo's defense recorded five total takeaways. The play was the first time a Bills rookie returned an interception for a score since linebacker Brandon Spoon did it Dec. 23, 2001.
McKelvin also became the first Bills player with a multi-interception game since Jim Haslett (1979 vs. Miami) and the first Bills rookie cornerback with a multi-interception game since Booker Edgerson (1962 vs. Oakland) when his second interception came off a cover two zone coverage in which he jumped the wide receiver's corner route.
"I just went up to its highest point and got it," McKelvin said.
For McKelvin, the secret to his success can be found on the practice field.
"I feel like I've been working very hard at practice and it's just starting to pay off," he said.
McKelvin helped out in the return game as well. A week after returning a kickoff for a touchdown in the Bills' loss to Cleveland on Monday Night Football, McKelvin continued to give the Bills great field position by picking up Kansas City's squib kicks (designed to limit McKelvin, who came into the game as the NFL's leading returner) and gaining 67 yards on returns, ripping off a 46-yard return that set up another Buffalo score.
"Leodis has really given us outstanding field position, which translates into points," Jauron said. "He showed his running skills that we're all aware of. We're obviously thrilled with the way he's played and the way he's come along."
McKelvin gave great importance to the tutelage of Terrence McGee, Donte Whitner and Jabari Greer. He said he looks up to them on and off the field and appreciated their help in getting him to make his second career start.
"I knew that I had my turn," McKelvin said. "I was just learning from them…I was just looking up to them as my brother and I just worked very hard. I was expecting myself to come in and compete for a starting job. Whenever they call me in, I'm going to come in and do my job."
Linebacker Kawika Mitchell said that is the exact reason the Bills chose McKelvin first in the 2008 draft.
"That's why he was the first round pick," he said. "He's got a lot of talent and its good to see that he's making those plays being disciplined on defense and really being effective."
Still, Jauron said he expected Greer to step right back in to the starting cornerback spot when his health returns. He said the Bills' depth in the defensive backfield a main key to the team's success.
"As soon as Jabari gets well, I see Jabari in there," he said. "The more of them we have playing well the better we are."
McKelvin seemed unfazed and said he would focus on one simple thing.
"Just keep working hard at practice," he said. "And things will come to you."