SAN FRANCISCO -- Coach Mike Mularkey shut off every television in the locker room yesterday morning, ordering his Buffalo Bills to focus on the only game with playoff implications they could control.
That blackout led to a knockout: The Bills demolished the San Francisco 49ers, 41-7, for their sixth straight victory, boosting everything from their postseason hopes to their confidence in Willis McGahee's health.
Mularkey still won't say the word playoffs, but his Bills certainly showed the determination and desperation necessary to become just the second team in NFL history to reach the postseason after starting 0-4.
"It's the same situation we've been in now for a long, long time," said Drew Bledsoe, who went 21 of 32 for 172 yards and a touchdown. "In order for us to have a chance, we've got to go and win the next game. There's only one way to approach it. . . . Sure, I saw the other [scores] in the stadium, but it doesn't matter."
Though nothing was decided, the other games went exceptionally well for the Bills (9-6): Fellow contenders Baltimore, Jacksonville, and the Jets all lost.
McGahee's ailing knee looked OK as he rushed for 102 yards and two TDs, and rookie Lee Evans caught two scoring passes as the Bills extended their longest winning streak since 1990. Buffalo also clinched its first winning record since 1999.
That's been the story of the last six weeks, which have been the most prolific offensive stretch in franchise history. The Bills have scored at least 33 points in every victory, winning every game by at least 10 points.
Kevan Barlow rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown with 6:19 to play for the 49ers (2-13), who clinched the top pick in next spring's NFL draft. San Francisco could match the worst record in team history with a loss at Foxborough against the Patriots next Sunday.