Bills remain cautious despite convincing win

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo Bills are far too
familiar with their troubled past to know better than to start
crowing about one win, however convincing it might have been.

Doesn’t mean they’re going to feel bad about it.

”As hard as the losses are, you’ve got to be able to celebrate
these a little and try to remember what it feels like,”
Fitzpatrick said Monday. ”Obviously, we love that feeling and want
to keep it going.”

After an offseason of question marks and criticism, the Bills
are off on the right track following an eye-opening 41-7 win at
Kansas City on Sunday.

The offense clicked just as Fitzpatrick had promised it would
this offseason. The seven-year journeyman threw four touchdown
passes in his first career season-opening start. And the Bills
retooled defense proved stout, limiting the Chiefs to 213
yards.

Add it up, and the Bills are 1-0 for only the third time since
2004 after producing the sixth-most lopsided win in team
history.

It’s a far better start than last year, when they opened 0-8 en
route to a 4-12 finish.

And yet there’s no need to remind a team that’s spent much of
the past decade playing NFL patsy that there’s still plenty left to
prove as Buffalo looks ahead to its home-opener against Oakland on
Sunday.

”We’re not one of those teams yet that needs to worry about
complacency or overconfidence,” coach Chan Gailey said. ”Our
memory’s not that short. We remember what it was like in those
locker rooms last year. And it’s no fun.”

Cautious optimism was the resounding theme coming from a
franchise that’s endured six straight losing seasons and not made
the playoffs in 11 years.

”You’ve got to be confident in yourself and know what you’re
capable of as a team,” running back Fred Jackson said. ”But by no
means did we win the Super Bowl yesterday. … It’s one win. That’s
all it is.”

At least the Bills have something to feel good about.

Fitzpatrick led a balanced attack that built a 20-7 lead by
halftime. That was an accomplishment in itself given that Buffalo
scored 20 or more points only four times last season.

In going 17 of 25 for 208 yards, he completed passes to six
players. That included two touchdown throws to tight end Scott
Chandler, who entered the game with only one career NFL reception
and hadn’t scored a touchdown since 2006, his senior season at
Iowa.

It was Fitzpatrick’s third four-TD game in his last 11 starts
with Buffalo dating to last season. From 2003-2009, the Bills had
only two four-TD games in total, one by Trent Edwards in 2007, the
other by Drew Bledsoe in ’04.

He’s doing it with a no-name group of receivers that lost its
most consistent threat last month when Lee Evans was traded to
Baltimore.

”We do have talent that maybe people didn’t think we had,”
Fitzpatrick said. ”There was a lot of doubt (on the outside), so
it was good to go out there and show there is some substance to
what we’re doing.”

The defense played a big role as well. A year after allowing 200
yards rushing eight times, including 274 against Kansas City in a
13-10 overtime loss in October, the Bills limited the Chiefs to 108
yards rushing on Sunday. They forced three turnovers, allowed
Kansas City to go three of 13 on third down, and forced eight
punts.

”Good start, long way to go,” said defensive tackle Kyle
Williams.

The sixth-year player has been around long enough to recall how
the Bills got off to a 5-1 start in 2008 before crumbling down the
stretch to a 7-9 finish.

”A lot of people were here when we went 5-1, and then had some
guys got hurt and it goes down the toilet,” Williams said. ”Maybe
the old cliche is true, you’ve got to go one at a time and
hopefully we can stack some wins.”

Notes: The Bills defense didn’t register three takeaways until
Week 5 of last season. … Fitzpatrick is now the third Bills
player to have three or more 4-TD games, joining Pro Football
Hall-of-Famer Jim Kelly, who had 10, and Joe Ferguson, who had
five. … The Bills had 23 first downs. They had 20 or more first
downs only four times last year, including a season-best against
the Chiefs.