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Bills play inspired defense but fall to Broncos in final seconds

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- In his 15 NFL seasons, Jason Elam had
never missed three field goals in one game.

The Denver Broncos kicker wasn't about to start a new trend.

Elam and the Broncos field goal unit scrambled onto the field to
convert a 42-yard attempt just as time ran out, lifting Denver to a
15-14 season-opening win over the stunned and injury-depleted
Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

"I'm really happy and thankful I got a chance to redeem myself
there," said Elam, who had missed a 43-yard attempt three minutes
earlier. He also had a 50-yarder sail wide left in the third
quarter.

Maybe it was good that Elam had little time to think about the
final kick.

The Broncos were out of timeouts when Jay Cutler hit Javon
Walker for an 11-yard catch with 14 seconds left, leading to a mad
scramble onto the field. Broncos holder Todd Sauerbrun got the ball
down with 1 second remaining.

"I'm going to look back at this game down the road and this is
going to be one of my favorites," said Elam, who has scored more
points for one team than anyone else in NFL history. "Out of all
the kicks I've had, I've never had a scenario like that."

The field goal, though, was overshadowed by a frightening
moment, when Bills reserve tight end Kevin Everett was knocked cold
and taken off the field by ambulance at the start of the third
quarter.

"Out of all the kicks I've had, I've never had a scenario like that."
-- Jason Elam

Everett had surgery Sunday and there is concern about whether he
will be able to walk again.

"He's had some sparse movement," Everett's agent Brian
Overstreet told The Associated Press in a phone interview late
Sunday.

"The next couple of days is going to be critical," said
Overstreet, responding to a question about paralysis. "Our concern
is for him to come out of this healthy and, hopefully, be able to
walk again."

Everett fell immediately to the ground and showed no signs of
consciousness after a helmet-to-helmet hit when he tackled Denver's
Domenik Hixon during a kickoff to open the second half. Everett was
placed on a backboard with his head and body immobilized, and
carefully loaded into an ambulance at the Broncos 30.

"It was real hard," Bills cornerback Terrence McGee said. "I
watched the whole thing and he never moved."

Several Broncos players expressed concern over the severity of
Everett's injury, with Elam opening his news conference by saying:
"What we heard is not good, so for our whole team, our prayers go
out to him."

The Bills lost three other defensive starters to serious
injuries: free safety Ko Simpson (broken left ankle); cornerback
Jason Webster (broken forearm); and linebacker Coy Wire (sprained
knee). Wire was starting in place of injured starter Keith Ellison,
who's out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain.

Still, credit the Bills banged-up defense for keeping the game
so close.

Denver outgained the Bills in total yards, an eye-popping
470-184, first downs, 23-13, and had a six-minute edge in time of
possession.

What the Broncos lacked was finish, managing three field goals
and a touchdown despite having eight of 10 drives into Bills
territory.

The Broncos have been strong starters over the past five seasons and they started the 2007 season with a victory, too. A look at the Broncos' record by month over the past five NFL seasons:

Month
W-L

September

13-4*

October

14-8

November

10-7

Dec./Jan.

14-10

*Not including Sunday's victory.

"What can I say, these are the types of games that drive you
crazy," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "We have to tie up some
loose ends, but it's nice to get out with a victory."

Cutler went 23-of-39 for a career-high 304 yards passing,
including a 5-yard touchdown to Brandon Marshall, and an
interception, but still showed signs of inexperience in his sixth
NFL start.

On Denver's final drive, Cutler blindly pitched a lateral to his
left, over running back Selvin Young's head. The ball was live
until Young smartly punched it out of bounds, putting the Broncos
in a deep hole, facing third-and-23.

Cutler rebounded, hitting Walker for a 21-yard reception, and
then converted the fourth-and-2 with a 7-yard scramble around the
right side. Cutler later converted a fourth-and-2 with an 8-yard
pass to Walker.

"That's the job of the quarterback," he said. "That's why we
get paid the big bucks."

Travis Henry had 139 yards rushing in his Broncos debut, playing
against his former team.

The Bills scored on Roscoe Parrish's 74-yard punt return and
Marshawn Lynch's 23-yard run. Lynch, the Bills' first-round draft
pick, had 90-yards rushing, the most by a Bills rookie in a
season-opener.

"There are a lot of people very emotional about this loss,"
Bills quarterback J.P. Losman said. "What we have to do is make
sure it does not slow us down one bit."

Game notes
Shanahan won his 132nd game with Denver, moving him into a
tie for 10th with Hank Stram for the most wins by a coach with the
same team. ... The Bills honored former special teams star, Steve
Tasker, by placing his name on the Ralph Wilson Stadium's Wall of
Fame. ... Bills FS Jim Leonhard had a team-leading 13 tackles while
taking over for Simpson.