Game 8: Bills Pull Off Upset Win 22-17
Team effort gives them three wins in four games.
by Steve Saslow
The Bills continue their mid season revival as they beat a quality team for the first time this year with a 22-17 win over the Jets. Willis McGahee was a workhorse as he rumbled for 132 yards on 37 carries and a touchdown. The defense added two takeaways and a safety while Drew Bledsoe hit Lee Evans for a score as the Bills pulled off a complete victory before a soldout crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Bills came ready to play as they used all three phases of the game to pull of the upset. Terrence McGee picked up a Chad Pennington fumble and scampered his way 38 yards to the Jets 21 to put the Bills in position to score first. The fumble came at the end of a scramble that would have converted a third and nine at the Buffalo 45. Instead it set the Bills up for McGahee's 12 yard sweep on a fourth and one gamble for the touchdown.
The Bills had the 7-0 lead thanks to a missed 36 yard field goal by Doug Brien a series earlier. The fumble return by McGee was another one of the big plays that we've become accustomed to from him. The problem was his play in the secondary. It was awful in this game as he allowed four big pass completions including a 51 yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss by backup QB Quincy Carter with four minutes to go in the game that pulled the Jets within five at 22-17.
The Bills early lead wouldn't last as the Jets scored on back to back possessions with the wind at their back in the second quarter. Brien hit a 41 yard field goal and then Pennington found Justin McCareins for a six yard touchdown pass on a third down play to give the Jets a 10-7 lead.
The Bills offense woke up at that point and drove the length of the field in the two minute offense before halftime. A 14 play, 72 yard drive was impressive but it ended very poorly as the Bills did a terrible job of clock management. Bledsoe was forced to call his last timeout when the play clock was heading to zero. Then when a run from the two failed, he didn't have the personnel in the game to throw it. He was forced to spike the ball and take the chip shot field goal to tie the game at the half. The fans were booing the Bills coming off the field despite having a tie against a 6-1 team thanks to the poor decision making.
If you thought that coming away with three instead of seven was a bad omen, you don't have to look past the opening series of the second half to know that wasn't the case. The Bills went 77 yards, in 13 plays to match their impressive drive at the end of the first half. They surpassed it when Bledsoe found Evans, who made a beautiful fingertip catch for the touchdown on third and goal from the four. The score gave the Bills a 17-10 lead they wouldn't relinquish.
The defense and special teams contributed to the next five points. Lawyer Milloy pulled in his first interception as a Bill and returned it to the Jets 24. That setup Rian Lindell's second field goal of the game to give the Bills a 20-10 lead.
A beautiful coffin corner punt later in the final quarter by Brian Moorman setup the Jets at the one yard line and after an illegal formation penalty, Curtis Martin was stuffed for the safety by Pat Williams giving the Bills the 22-10 lead.
Moss' touchdown would make it close but another big reception by Evans for 27 yards on third and eight along with a McGahee two yard run on third and one ran out the clock. The catch by Evans was a questionable call but the Jets were out of timeouts and couldn't challenge it, so the break went the Bills way.
The Bills have now won three of their last four and seem to be getting a break or two, that seems to happen when your winning. Another thing that happens when you are winning is that you gain confidence. The team has more confidence, and they will need every last bit of it as they travel to New England for a prime time affair next Sunday night.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Jets: