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Wilson helps lead young Bills into new territory

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Posted Sept. 30, 2011 @ 3:22 a.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

When Rian Lindell's kick went through the uprights as the clock expired in Week Three, it was the first time George Wilson could say his team beat the Patriots. The win broke an eight-year losing streak, and Wilson, the team's starting safety and its player rep, has been in Buffalo since he entered the league in 2005.

Wilson played a big role in the win, with a diving interception at the goal line of Tom Brady, last year's MVP.  That pick set up the Bills' game-tying touchdown.

The 3-0 Bills aren't playing like a flash in the pan and clearly have an air of confidence that hasn't been witnessed in Buffalo for a long time.

"The saying goes: Winning is contagious. And the opposite end of the spectrum is, too — so is losing. We had to look back and reflect on what put us in that 0-8 hole a year ago," Wilson told PFW this week. "It was a lot of mistakes — penalties, mental errors, missed tackles, turnovers, giving up big plays, things of that nature.

"We had to make sure that we were doing everything we needed to do, and it started out by expecting and demanding more out of ourselves."

With Donte Whitner gone, Wilson has assumed a starting role in the defensive backfield, and he said the defense's success thus far has been due to the unit's preparation.

"Coach (George) Edwards and the staff do a great job of putting us in a position to make a play," said Wilson. "We started on the Bengals on Monday. Even though we had a pretty good win over the weekend, we didn't sit and bask in the glory. You don't win respect in this league by winning three ballgames, and you certainly don't win championships by winning three games."

Joining Wilson in the safety group, one of the team's strengths, is Bryan Scott and Jairus Byrd. Scott, who has been with the Bills since '07, has a sack and an interception this season.

"Bryan is a safety, but we have packages where he plays in the box like a linebacker for run support, as well as matchups vs. running backs and tight ends," said Wilson. "It's not easy to switch back and forth between safety and linebacker, knowing responsibilities on a given defense and executing them consistently."

Byrd had some struggles in his second season after a big rookie campaign, but he recorded two passes defensed in the win over New England.

"Any quarterback that is going against (Byrd) has to throw the ball on the money. If he has an opportunity to make a play on the ball, he's going to bring it down," Wilson said.

The preparation for this young defense began in the summer during the lockout. Wilson balanced his role as a player rep with being a leader for the Bills' young defense. He worked out with several Bills rookies: DL Marcell Dareus, SS Da'Norris Searcy and ILB Kelvin Sheppard.

"One positive about the lockout, and there wasn't a whole bunch of good, was that I was able to train with those guys in Atlanta this offseason and talk to them on a daily basis," said Wilson. "While we were running the stadium steps, I was telling them how it has been, playing in Buffalo — how loud and crazy the fans are and how they have been that way and so loyal to us, even when we haven't had team success."

The Bills' fan base is being rewarded this season with three exciting wins, and head coach Chan Gailey is getting a lot of respect around the league for what he has done with the Bills.

"Coach Gailey is not one of those rah-rah guys. His mentality is if he has to motivate you, you're in the wrong business with the wrong ballclub," Wilson said. "He makes us work hard each and every day and he tells us straight-up what he demands of us. He does a great job of creating an environment for our guys to come into and raise expectations of themselves and the team."

The success of the team this season has brought to the forefront a pair of contract situations, as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and WR Stevie Johnson are due for new deals at the end of the season.

"As far as contracts go, we don't allow those to be distractions because, ultimately, we have control over it. If we continue to play well and continue to win, all that takes care of itself," Wilson said.

The Bills' offense has been humming, but the defense will need to pick up its game to keep winning consistently. If it can force turnovers as it did to the Patriots, though, an end to the playoff drought is possible.

"It's great to put smiles on the faces of Bills fans and people of Western New York," Wilson said. "We want to take this one day at a time and one game at a time, so we can really give them something to be happy about."

 

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