It was Halloween 2004 when the Arizona Cardinals last visited the Bills in Orchard Park, and there were some unusual events in the game due to a host of factors. One of those factors was the weather.
While the game time temperature was 55 degrees, it didn’t feel like it with sustained winds of better than 20 miles per hour and wind gusts up to 40 mph. There were also rain showers. It was part of what prompted Buffalo to commit fully to a competent ground game to beat Arizona.
Head coach Mike Mularkey officially named Willis McGahee the team’s new starting tailback, supplanting Travis Henry. The Cardinals game was McGahee’s first NFL start and he came through with 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns in what wound up being a 38-14 win.
It was a coming out party or coming back party for McGahee, who missed all of his rookie season in 2003 coming off reconstructive knee surgery. McGahee would go on to rush for more than 1,100 yards in 2004.
While the Bills thrived in the poor weather conditions, the Cardinals struggled managing just a shade over 200 yards of total offense, including just 101 passing yards for Arizona QB Josh McCown. McCown looked frustrated during the game as the wind and rain negatively impacted his effectiveness.
“I know one thing, I have a newfound respect for Jim Kelly and what he did here,” McCown said after the game. “It was the toughest conditions I’ve ever played in.”
If McCown thought it was difficult, his punter Scott Player thought it was impossible. He had eight punts that day and only two went for more than 40 yards. His first of the day into the wind traveled just 23 yards and it hit a wall of wind and fell straight to the turf.
Player had another punt returned 40 yards by Nate Clements to set up a 1st-and-10 for the offense at the Arizona 11-yard line. It led to one Bills TD. Clements also had a 34-yard return to the Arizona 19 that led to an Eric Moulds touchdown catch.
Terrence McGee, who would go to the Pro Bowl that season as a return man, also had an 87-yard return for a score to spark the offense on a big day for Buffalo’s special teams.
The Cardinals also hurt themselves with 14 penalties for 101 yards. The loss for Arizona was a league-high 17th in a row on the road.
Posted in Inside the Bills