Buffalo erases 18-point hole for victory

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- The Carolina Panthers really outdid
themselves this time -- and against the lowly Buffalo Bills, no

The Panthers, who have blown leads five times this season in the
final five minutes, gave up 19 unanswered points in about two
quarters in a 25-24 loss to Buffalo on Sunday.

What happened to Carolina's offense in the second half of this game?
The Panthers started turning the ball over -- including a pick for a touchdown.

They weren't making plays on third down. And they weren't making the plays in general that they were making in the first half. Because they weren't making plays in the second half, they didn't score any points. It's as simple as that.

ESPN.com's Vinny Cerrato was director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.


Bills quarterback Alex Van Pelt led the comeback, throwing for
277 yards and a touchdown in his fourth start in place of Rob
Johnson, who's out with a broken collarbone. Rookie running back
Travis Henry ran for 101 yards and the go-ahead touchdown.

"It's unreal," Panthers safety Mike Minter said. "Every week.
I didn't believe it was possible. Twelve weeks in a row we've been
talking about the same thing."

Ahead 24-6 until the very end of the second quarter, the
Panthers (1-12) were blanked the rest of the way in dropping their
12th straight game.

It was a fitting finish to a sloppy game billed as "The
Futility Bowl," involving two of the NFL's worst teams.

The Panthers are left to vie with the still winless Detroit
Lions for the league's worst record. The Bills picked up just their
second victory of the season.

"It is a stepping stone and we have to continue it," Buffalo
coach Gregg Williams said. "We need to keep it going here at the
end of the year."

The Bills ended a six-game losing streak and won for the first
time in nine home games, one loss short of matching a franchise

The game turned in unexpected fashion.

After being unable to do anything right, the Bills found life on
their last drive of the first half.

Van Pelt marched the Bills 70 yards on four plays, capping it
with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Peerless Price with one second

Brandon Spoon then intercepted Chris Weinke's pass and ran it
back 44 yards to cut Carolina's lead to 24-19 with 5:39 left in the
third quarter.

Van Pelt completed the comeback midway through the fourth

He hit tight end Jay Riemersma three times -- including a 19-yard
completion on third-and-8 -- during an efficient nine-play drive
that ended with Travis Henry's 1-yard plunge over the middle.

The Bills' defense did the rest, limiting the Panthers to one
first down on their next two series.

Carolina's last gasp ended when Bills linebacker Keith Newman
batted down Weinke's pass on fourth-and-2 at the Buffalo 47 with
2:28 left.

"A lot of people wrote us off after the first half, but we came
out and did our jobs," said Spoon, a rookie filling in for Sam
Cowart, who has missed the season with a torn Achilles' tendon.
"This win helps a lot. ... We're starting to feel now that
whoever's in there, we can do the job."

Van Pelt finished 20-of-29. Henry had 27 carries and became the
first Bills rookie since Thurman Thomas in 1988 with two
100-yard-plus rushing games.

Newly signed Bills place-kicker Shayne Graham hit field goals
from 20 and 27 yards.

Weinke finished 15-of-30 for 153 yards and scored on a 1-yard

Richard Huntley rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown for
Carolina. Kris Mangum, with a 2-yard TD reception, and John Kasay
with a 37-yard field goal, also scored for the Panthers.

Carolina's futility has been remarkable this season.

Seven of the Panthers losses have come by a combined 17 points.
They've also lost 10 games when leading or holding a tie in the
second half.

While the Panthers gambled by entering this season with a young,
rebuilding team, speculation continues to swirl about coach George
Seifert's job.

"I plan on coaching the team. And as far as any future things
are concerned, I don't have a crystal ball to look at," Seifert

Seifert got support from Minter.

"We can't put this on the coach. We're the ones out there doing
that," Minter said. "This was us."

Game notes
Bills NT Pat Williams (left leg), who didn't return after
leaving the field in the first quarter, will be re-evaluated on
Monday. FS Travares Tillman (ribs) was to be X-rayed after the
game. ... The announced crowd of 44,549 was the smallest at a
non-strike game at Ralph Wilson Stadium since Dec. 7, 1986. ... The
Panthers have been outscored 164-98 in the second half this season.
... During a halftime ceremony, the Bills honored former coach Marv
Levy for last summer's induction into the Pro Football Hall of


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