ORCHARD PARK, N.Y., NOV. 1 -- Contrary to rumor, Cornelius Bennett has not asked to be traded, though he had to be wondering today what he'd gotten himself into.

The Buffalo Bills began the Bennett era with a thud, i.e., today's 27-7 loss to the Redskins. If you were counting -- and Bennett, who watched the game from the owners box, probably wasn't -- the Bills committed a dozen devastating mistakes. Yet, they thought referee Jerry Markbreit made the worst one.

With the score 17-0, Dwight Drane stuck his sore left shoulder into Jay Schroeder's left shoulder blade. The Redskins quarterback had never seen him blitzing and immediately lost grasp of the football, which was quickly picked up by Bills defensive end Sean McNanie.

McNanie, who said he hadn't scored a touchdown since a touch football game in 12th grade, huffed and puffed to the end zone, but turned to see Drane frowning.

Markbreit had called it back, explaining that he blew his whistle before the fumble.

"The moment the defender hit the quarterback and started to drive him back, I was blowing my whistle," Markbreit told a pool reporter. "And that's in the grasp . . . That's it. That's exactly what I saw."

Later in the Bills locker room, McNanie claimed that Markbreit admitted he'd blown the call. "And, you know," McNanie said, "to hear him say that breaks my heart."

Coach Marv Levy said: "Did I get an explanation {from Markbreit}? We {coaches} never get an explanation. We get a 'Get back!' "

Now for the Bills' own boo-boos: Earlier, Redskins kicker Ali Haji-Sheikh missed a 44-yard field goal, but Bills nose tackle Fred Smerlas fell on him. Markbreit called "running into the kicker."

Smerlas: "Darn it, nine out of 10 times we block that kick. I mean we {he and Steve Tasker} were both right there. I don't know how we didn't block it. If we had, it wouldn't have mattered if I scrunch the kicker."

Three plays after Haji-Sheikh got squashed, Schroeder ran for a touchdown.Three interceptions thrown by Jim Kelly. Number one came with the Bills on the Redskins 25 in the second quarter. Kelly threw to no one in particular, and linebacker Monte Coleman grabbed it. "I don't know what happened," Coleman said. "I was playing a zone, and I dropped back, and there it was."

Number two came when cornerback Barry Wilburn stepped in front of wide receiver Chris Burkett near the right sideline. Wilburn said he could read when Kelly was going to throw an "out" pass, and just gambled. Number three came when free safety Todd Bowles intervened on a fly pattern.

Said Kelly, who passed for 292 yards: "I felt, except for a couple interceptions, I had a pretty good game."Dropped passes by Burkett, running back Ronnie Harmon and wide receiver Trumaine Johnson. Harmon's and Burkett's were on crossing patterns early in the game.Trailing, 17-0, at the half, it was important for the Bills to jump all over the Redskins on their first possession of the second half. Instead, Bowles jumped on Burkett's fumble (forced by safety Alvin Walton) on the third play of the half.They should've watched Kelvin Bryant's belly. Early in the third quarter, the Redskins had a second down on the Buffalo 7, and linebacker Shane Conlan was all over Schroeder. He dumped off to Bryant, who juked cornerback Ron Pitts at the 10 and linebacker Scott Radecic at the 5. Touchdown. Coaches always tell a defender to watch a runner's stomach, not his legs. Pitts and Radecic apparently forgot.It was third down and 27-7 when defensive end Leon Seals laid a late hit on Schroeder. Markbreit threw the flag again.Finally, McNanie dropped a wide-open interception, his last chance for a touchdown today. The ball fell out of his hands and into running back George Rogers'.

McNanie said he turned around and yelled: "What next?"

Soon enough, the final gun.