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Free Birds: Uninhibited by Bills, the Cardinals Soar

Trent Edwards after the brain-bruising hit by the Cradinals' Adrian Wilson.

Trent Edwards after the brain-bruising hit by the Cardinals' Adrian Wilson.

AV football correspondent Dave Staba send in this dispatch on Sunday’s undertelevised blowout:

Someone really should have blocked Adrian Wilson.

And probably ought to have covered Larry Fitzgerald.

Wilson, the Arizona safety, delivered the biggest play in the 41-17 curb-stomping the Bills absorbed at the at the hands of the Cardinals on Sunday, romping uninvited, yet unhampered, into Buffalo’s backfield and driving Trent Edwards’ head into the retractable natural grass playing surface at University of Phoenix Stadium. The resulting impact ended the quarterback’s day and quite possibly altered the course of the rest of his team’s season.

The defensive breakdown that led to the game’s first points was not physically painful to anyone, but barely easier to watch. (If, of course, you weren’t staring at your television, wondering how the owners of Channel 4 could possibly be so monumentally self-defeating as to deny untold thousands of viewers throughout Buffalo of the programming so many of them care the most about.)

Moments after J.P. Losman replaced Edwards and swiftly bounced the ball off of Marshawn Lynch and into the grateful hands of Phoenix’s Antonio Smith, a very lonely looking Fitzgerald caught a flip from Kurt Warner that could have been launched underhanded, or blindly backwards over the quarterback’s head, so open was the target.

How, exactly, an ill-intentioned defender and an all-star receiver are each left unaccounted for by a heretofore undefeated team in the first five minutes of a game present the first two questions concerning Buffalo’s unraveling.

Yet those breakdowns, and how quickly Edwards’ head clears, are only the first of the issues to ponder as the Bills spend the next two weeks—thanks to the bye week that keeps them inactive until San Diego visits on Oct. 19—wondering whether they’re as good as they played during the season’s first four weeks, or as lousy as they looked Sunday.

1. What’s with Jason Peters? His holdout should no longer be a factor, since he’s been back in uniform and practicing for as long as he would have been from the opening summer session at St. John Fisher to the season opener, had he reported on time.

2. How does a defense make it through an entire game without sacking Kurt Warner? Even at his best and youngest, the most famous grocery clerk ever has been quite easy to catch, having absorbed 222 sacks in 98 career appearances before Sunday yet the Bills rarely got near the 37-year-old, aside from Kawika Mitchell’s chin-splitting shot in the second quarter.

3. Speaking of which, how long will fans and media types kvetch over the legal and moral implications of the hit that ended, at best, Edwards’ afternoon?

I’ve heard several people argue that Wilson “left his feet” before the hit, but this ain’t hockey, folks. Unlike Mitchell, he did not lead with his helmet, the National Football League’s ultimate sin when it comes to attempted quarterback decapitation.

If Wilson gets fined, Mitchell should be sending part of his game check to the league office, too.

4. What could the people who run LIN-TV possibly be thinking? By withholding the most highly rated program on any given Sunday throughout the Buffalo area, the company that owns Channel 4 has managed to make Time-Warner into a sympathetic multibillion-dollar conglomerate.

Well, almost.

Plenty of people are blaming Time-Warner for the partial Bills blackout, even though LIN-TV is attempting to charge those same viewers for a signal they have always been able to get for free. Some are switching to a satellite provider, but there are those of us who like to watch television when it rains or snows, too.

Dave Staba has covered the Bills since 1990. He welcomes e-mail at A full report on Sunday’s game will appear in the October 2 issue of Artvoice.