For most of Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders, the Bills' offense seemed lifeless and slightly out of sync. In the second half, the Bills' offense used a deadly dosage of slot receivers Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish to pick apart the Raiders defense when it mattered most.
After a six-yard catch by Reed totaled the duo's only offensive output of the first half, quarterback Trent Edwards turned to Reed and Parrish in the second half, throwing to them eight times for a combined 108 yards and a Parrish touchdown.
With Lee Evans blanketed for much of the day, Reed and Parrish made two catches each on Buffalo's final two drives, moving the Bills a total of 63 yards in the last seven minutes of the game.
After Parrish returned Shane Lechler's punt nine yards to the Buffalo 34 yard line, Reed made an 11-yard-catch, followed by Parrish's 16-yard-catch, before Marshawn Lynch marched the final 19 yards to set up Rian Lindell's game-winning field goal as time expired.
"Trent Edwards did a good job of finding me downfield," said Parrish of his touchdown catch. "(It was an) out route. I just made my way into the touchdown, basically. It was a good feeling. I knew we still were down so we had to come up again with a good offensive drive and we did that. And then downfield again with a good field goal. And were 3-0 right now, baby."
Reed and Evans took advantage of Oakland's softer coverage to execute pinpoint routes and find the seams of the defense. Parrish said such route running is just another result of intense preparation.
"You've got to out there and just execute a route," Parrish said. "You've been doing it all practice, it's not different. If you study real good on your film, and just point out some of the routes, once you go out and execute it, it just makes your job easier."
Parrish said the Bills made adjustments at halftime to open up the offense and buy more time for Edwards.
Head coach Dick Jauron agreed, pointing out that because Oakland was so strong in tight coverage, Edwards needed an extra second to find the second receiver.
"…Once you've got a little bit more time…It worked out pretty well and Josh and Roscoe did a nice job," Jauron said.
Reed said the players kept their faith in offensive coordinator Turk Schonert's system and refused to hang their heads when their offense struggled.
"We knew what we had to do," Reed said. "We had to keep pushing. Offensive guys stay pumping up in the huddle, encouraged each other. That's what we did. We stayed with a positive mind in the fourth quarter and everything played to our advantage."
Reed said his intermediate routes with Parrish were the key in the Bills' slot receivers getting open because the slot receiver is usually lined up on a safety or third or fourth cornerback. Once referees ejected Oakland safety Gibril Wilson for punching Reed after a Bills touchdown, the job of the slot receivers only got easier.
Edwards agreed, saying that he felt more confident throwing to the slot receivers when they weren't lined across from Oakland's cornerbacks.
"They play a lot of press coverage and they're just shut down corners," he said. "So we have some pretty good slot receivers that we needed to get on linebackers in space. As long as we hold up with protection, I was getting more and more comfortable at finding them in zones and using my eyes to look it off and I think sure enough on that last drive we were able to hit two underneath routes that those guys are pretty good at making guys miss."
Reed gave credit to Schonert and the Bills coaches for finding a successful play calling rhythm and knowing when he and Parrish were on a roll.
He said once the team started gaining confidence and Edwards started completing passes, the Bills felt they couldn't be stopped.
"Once we got rolling, we felt like they couldn't stop us," Reed said. "We just had that confidence that we can score (and) once we did, if we get the ball back, we're going to go out and score again. The defense is going to go out there and makes some plays and if we get the ball at the end we were going to go down there and make sure we win."