Game 11: Colts Pull Out Victory 17-14
Bills played well for three quarters before losing.
by Steve Saslow
The good news is the offense finally scored a touchdown. They actually scored two of them. It was time for the defense to implode as the Colts pulled out a 17-14 win over the Bills on a beautiful 70° day at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The offense finally ended the drought after 218 minutes and 45 possessions when Drew Bledsoe dove in from the one yard line just before the two minute warning in the first half. The score gave the Bills a 7-3 lead at the half. Of course, the Bills first touchdown drive in a month ironically was setup by the punter. Brian Moorman bobbled a snap, picked up the ball, made a man miss, and rumbled down the sidelines 21 yards officially, 37 in reality. There was late hit on the play that tacked on another 15 yards to move the ball to the Colts 35. That was the break they needed to finally break the touchdown drought.
They added to their lead with their second touchdown nine seconds into the fourth quarter when Sammy Morris took a draw play seven yards for a score amazingly on third down no less. The Colts must have been stunned that the Bills actually ran it on third and long. The Bills held a surprising 14-3 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The battle to watch in this game we said all along was the Colts passing attack vs. the Bills pass defense. The Bills shutdown Peyton Manning most of the game as the defense played lights out for three quarters. It is real hard to hold down that offense and even harder to keep them down as the Bills found out in the final quarter. The Colts offense came alive with back to back scoring drives. The first one was a nine play, 61 yard drive and the second one was 16 play, 83 yard six minute drive to the winning score. Both touchdowns were on the ground as Edgerrin James scored from 14 and 1 yard out. The first drive was helped by a fumble that was picked up by a guard, who rumbled 16 yards to the Bills 24. Four James runs later the Colts were within five as the two point conversion failed.
The Bills had a chance to add to the lead on their next possession but Bledsoe and Eric Moulds couldn't connect on a third down pass that would have set the Bills up in Colts territory. The Colts marched down the field in a no huddle attack to the winning score. They were helped by an offside penalty on Sam Adams and it took them four James runs to score from the three. The touchdown came on a fourth down run from the 1 foot line.
It was good news for the Colts that it took them that long to score because it left the Bills with just 1:38 on the clock to try and tie the game up. For the second week in a row a Bledsoe turnover on the final drive would thwart the Bills chances at a victory. The Bills moved the ball to their 46 yard line when Bledsoe was hit by Chad Bratzke as he threw and was picked off to end the game.
The Bills played one of their better games of the season but still could not come out with a victory. They just can't make the big play when they need to that would close a team out. They had numerous chances on defense to make the big stop in the fourth quarter and didn't. The defense played inspired football for three quarters but the bottom line is you need to score more than 14 points to beat the Colts and the offense continued to be bogged down despite scoring two touchdowns. That makes four losses in a row, the last three by four points or less, they had their chances to win all three but the big play was never made. Now they are just playing out the string.
Despite the loss, the Bills played pretty well meaning their are more gameballs than goats:Gameballs