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Bills feel at home at Ford Field

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Of all the places the NFL could have chosen to move a home game for the snow-orphaned Buffalo Bills, none could have suited quarterback Kyle Orton any better than Ford Field.

"Yeah, I like the stadium and I like the field," Orton said. "For a quarterback, anytime you can play in a dome it's fun. But I've had some good memories here."

That's an understatement. Orton is 5-0 against the Lions in his career, throwing for more than 1,000 yards and with a quarterback rating of 97.9. He is 3-0 at Ford Field, including a 17-14 victory Oct. 5.

In those three games, two with the Bears and last month with the Bills, he completed 74 of 108 passes for 872 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

In the win against the Lions last month, Orton went 30-for-43 for 308 yards and a touchdown.

A return trip to Ford Field — despite the horrific circumstances that necessitated it — couldn't come at a better time for Orton and the Bills offense, which hasn't scored a touchdown in the last 21 drives in losses to the Chiefs and Dolphins.

"You can't really think about that," Orton said. "Just work as hard as you can, put in all the effort you can and go out and play loose and have fun. ... Nobody's been in this situation before. I haven't been in this situation and I don't think any of the coaches have. We just need to depend on each other, rely on each other, trust each other to play hard and compete."

Having to play the 2-8 Jets might not be a bad tonic, either. Orton threw four touchdown passes in a 43-23 road win over the Jets earlier this season.

"We played well the last time we played them, but it's a new game and new matchups," Bills receiver Robert Woods said. "We've got to attack them again. We have to play our game. The defense played well last time and put the offense in good positions to score. That's what we have to do again."

The Bills, who arrived in Detroit on Friday, finished their abbreviated preparations with a walkthrough at the Lions practice facility Sunday. After not practicing for 10 days, and being snowed out of their own practice facility much of last week, doing most of the film study and game plan installations electronically through the players' iPads, the Bills feel like they are ready to go.

"Our coaches did a great job with our game plan, actually coaching us through the iPads," Woods said. "It was a lot of mental reps, but coming out here, it's kind of like we've been through it because the iPad was so detailed."

Most of the players said they feel the extra days rest will serve their bodies well in the long run.

"Yesterday after sitting around for a couple of days and not practicing, then traveling out here and then trying to come practice, guys felt a little bit sluggish (on Friday)," running back Fred Jackson said. "Coming out here (Saturday), that wasn't the case. Guy felt like they were back in the routine, getting to move around."

Coach Doug Marrone opted to use the practice facility in Allen Park for the final walkthrough instead of Ford Field.

"We got asked, 'Hey, do you want to go tomorrow to the field to see the lighting and surface?'" Marrone said. "But, we've done that so we don't have to take that trip over there. The locker room is going to change, but that's not a big issue. From that standpoint, it helps us that we've been here before.

"We've played here, we know what shoes to wear, what the surface is like, what the sidelines are like. So, that familiarity obviously helps."

According to the Lions, more than 65,000 free tickets were distributed in about 30 minutes Saturday for the game Monday night.

"It's incredible to think that many tickets have been distributed in that short period of time," Bills president Russ Brandon said. "We are looking forward to a robust house and hopefully there will be a lot of Bills fans in there as well."

Several of the players were surprised to hear tickets, even free tickets, moved that quickly.

"It's something we will just take in stride," Jackson said. "I'm sure there will be a lot of football fans there. Maybe not necessarily fans of the teams playing, but it'll be interesting to see. I'm excited to see what happens."

The Lions have done their best to make Ford Field feel like home to the Bills, even painting the Bills script in the end zones — and they'll add the Bills logo to midfield, too.

"The fact of the matter is this is somewhat unprecedented for our organization," Brandon said. "We're in a situation that we lose home-field advantage, we lose the outside elements of them coming and playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but it's the hand that we're dealt. We offer no excuses when we go out and play."

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

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