Game 12: Bills Win Wild Affair 42-32
Seven Turnovers, Bledsoe, Two Return Scores Spells Win.
by Steve Saslow
This game between the Bills and Dolphins was so wild it was reminiscent of the games from the 90s. Drew Bledsoe did his Jim Kelly imitation throwing for four touchdowns while the defense overcame some early woes to force six of the Dolphins seven turnovers leading to the Bills 42-32 win in Miami. The win gives the Bills three straight, five of their last six, and six of their last eight since starting 0-4.
This game was wild from the opening kickoff when Terrence McGee took it and rumbled 104 yards for the longest kickoff return for a score in Bills history. The return was the fifth by the Bills return men this year, tying in NFL record.
The 7-0 lead :13 seconds into the game may have made people think the rout was on, but this wild one had many twists, turns and momentum swings. The first 45 points in this game were scored in the first quarter and a half, while the last 39 points were scored in the last quarter and :02 seconds.
Miami came out offensively with a passing attack that made the Bills defense look more like the worst defense in the league and not one of the best. The defense would give up three first quarter touchdown passes by a banged up, and courageous A.J. Feeley. Miami would lead at the end of this wild quarter 21-14.
They answered McGee's score, with a 63 yard drive in just six plays to a 27 yard touchdown pass to tie the game. The Bills would retake the lead after Nate Clements had the first of five Feeley interceptions. That setup a Bledsoe to Tim Euhus 15 yard touchdown pass and run to recapture a 14-7 lead.
This was the Jekyll and Hyde day for the Bills defense. They gave up big chunks of yardage at times but also forced the big turnover. Miami would score 17 unanswered points after Euhus' score. Feeley led them on two consecutive touchdown drives that took a total of 9 plays. The second score was setup on a beautiful reverse on the return that set them up at the Bills 31. The third and final first quarter score was setup by good field position and ended on a 15 yard touchdown pass.
Miami added to the lead with a field goal drive after getting good field position again as the Bills would be punting from deep in their own territory a lot early thanks to uncharacteristic holding penalties on the return team. With Miami up 24-14 the Bills responded. The went to the no-huddle attack and moved the ball downfield and drove 78 yards in just six plays to Bledsoe's 21 yard touchdown pass to rookie Lee Evans to pull the Bills to within three at 24-21 early in the second quarter.
This game seemed like it would challenge last week's Browns-Bengals game as the highest scoring game of all time. But it did settle down. That touchdown pass to Evans happened only 1:58 into the second quarter but neither team would score again until the final play of the third quarter but there were opportunities.
Both teams would trade turnovers in the second quarter as the Bills recovered a fumble on a punt return but Willis McGahee would give it right back to Miami on his first career fumble. A Takeo Spikes interception set the Bills up again but Rian Lindell's 11 straight field goals streak came to an end with a 38 yard miss to the left that would have tied the game going into halftime.
It seemed to stay 24-21 for an eternity as the third quarter turned into a defensive struggle but the game would explode again as Bledsoe found Evans again this time for 69 yards and a score when the Dolphins went to double team Eric Moulds as the third quarter was expiring.
The Bills would strike quickly in the fourth quarter as well, Rashad Baker became the latest player to victimize Feeley and his pick setup a beautiful 30 yard catch and run by Moulds to a score that gave the Bills a 35-24 lead. The two quick scores came on just four plays and totaled 103 yards.
An 11 point lead against a team with two wins should have salted the game away with the Bills dominating defense. This day was anything but normal and Feeley answered with a well executed 76 yard drive in 15 plays to a three yard touchdown run by Travis Minor. The 2 point conversion was to a wide open Chris Chambers bringing Miami within a field goal at 35-32.
McGahee was quiet in his homecoming besides his fumble, it was the last drive that would give his 100 plus fans something to cheer about. The Bills were looking to run out the clock and gave the ball to McGahee who had a 21 yard run to spearhead a drive that would run the clock down. He didn't get to 100 yards on this day as he made it to 96 before finishing with 91 after being stuffed on the last drive of the game.
The Bills didn't score on the ensuing drive but flipped the field position as a beautiful punt by Brian Moorman was downed at the 2 by Kevin Thomas. That would make Miami go a long way for a tying field goal. They only made it two plays. Feeley would throw his final pick of the game that would put the final nail in the coffin on this wild game. Pat Williams would pluck a pass over the middle out of mid air and return it for the clinching score.
The Bills pulled out another road win as the offense had a great game behind Bledsoe, Evans, and Moulds. Evans was solid throughout catching the two scores, and Moulds had a big second half after being shutout in the first half. Bledsoe stayed poised in the pocket and moved around very effectively in the game as he knew it was going to take a shootout to win and he was up to the task on this day. They made many mistakes, how else do you only win by only 10 when you are a +6 in the turnover ratio? There were 11 ill timed penalties and three sacks that slowed down the offensive attack while the defense allowed big play after big play in the first quarter.
The difference between the Bills now and the Bills in the first month of the season was they were able to overcome some poor play and mistakes and pull out the game. The offense has become a juggernaut as the team has 117 points in the last three games. The defense struggled at times today but also made the big play. Good teams win on the road against poor teams even when they don't play their best. The Bills didn't play their best in this one but did get the win keeping the long shot playoff hopes alive.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the win against the Dolphins:Gameballs