Game 15: Bills Win Big Again 41-7
6th Straight Win Makes Playoffs A Real Possibility.
by Steve Saslow
Just when you thought the Bills couldn't get more dominating, they do. They continue their improbable run to a possible playoff berth with their 6th win in a row. For the 6th straight time they scored more than 33 points as they dominated the lowly 49ers 41-7. Losses by the Jets, Jaguars, and Ravens puts the Bills on the heels of a playoff spot. If they can be the Steelers next week and get a loss by either the Jets or Broncos they will become the second team in NFL history to overcome an 0-4 start to make the postseason.
The Bills won this game, like they have won many in what is perhaps the greatest streak in the club's storied history. The defense forced four turnovers and the special teams had a number of big returns to shorten the field. The offense not only didn't do anything wrong, they were crisp and executed beautifully throughout making this another total team victory.
It was a slow start as you would expect since the team had to travel cross country on Christmas Day to play the worst team in the league. They caught fire in the second quarter as the offense went 80 yards in 9 plays, mostly passing plays to a three yard touchdown run by Willis McGahee to give the Bills a 7-0 lead that would prove to be insurmountable.
McGahee got the start despite having a hyperextended knee. He was hampered as he rushed for his seventh 100 yard game of the season, all wins by the Bills. In the process he went over 1,000 yards for the season. What an accomplishment for a player who did not play last year because of a devastating knee injury, or didn't start the first month of this season.
The Bills took to the air much of the first half to not put too much pressure on McGahee. Drew Bledsoe threw 25 passes in the first half, which is close to his per game average. He beat the blitz on many occasions with the short passing game evident by eight catches each by Eric Moulds and Lee Evans. The first drive was all by the offense, very few series after that did they have to do it by themselves.
The first touchdown started a streak of four straight scoring possessions. The next drive started at their own 47 after one of many good returns, this one a 21 yarder by Nate Clements. The passing game moved them to the 49ers six where the drive stalled and Rian Lindell made the score 10-0.
A Bledsoe to Evans eight yard touchdown pass on third and goal with :25 left in the half made the score 17-0. That was setup by the first takeaway by the defense. Aaron Schobel recovered a Ken Dorsey fumble after a sack by Kevin Thomas.
The Bills would put the nail in the coffin in the third quarter after a 48 yard kickoff return by Jonathan Smith. McGahee would run the ball three times on the drive for 38 yards but the Bills would settle for another Lindell field goal to make the score 20-0.
Two series later, a 28 yard punt return by Clements setup McGahee's second touchdown of the day, a one yard sweep. The score allowed Bledsoe to take the rest of the game off but the scoring wasn't done. Shane Matthews got a rare opportunity to play and would hit Evans on a nice bomb for a 33 yard touchdown.
It was 34-0 and all the backups were in the game making it resemble a preseason game. That is when Shaud Williams plays at his best. He took over for McGahee in the third quarter and added a 27 yard touchdown run to make the score 41-0. Williams finished seven yards shy of giving the Bills two 100 yard rushers in a game, he finished with 93 yards on 17 carries.
The only thing left was to see if the Bills would get a shutout. A 4th and 17 conversion setup a late San Francisco touchdown to save some face for the lowly 49ers. The Bills roll is just unbelievable, not just that they have won sixth straight, 8 of their last 9, and 9 of their last 11 after an 0-4 start. It is how they have won with total team efforts like in this game. They have had help from all three phases every week to the point where in the six straight games they have had only one "close" game, that was a 10 point victory over Miami. Remember when they couldn't win on the road? That is a distant memory with four straight road wins.
They got help around the league but still need more help to get into the playoffs. The fact that they are playing for a chance at the postseason is stunning after the way they started the season. Every Bills fan would have signed up for this scenario after the first month of the season. Now they have it, it would be real nice if they complete this magical season with a playoff bid. I guarantee one thing, nobody wants to play the Bills in the post season. If the Colts think about it enough, they may want to let the Broncos win next week, since they aren't playing for anything, that may keep the Bills out of the dance.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills blowout win against the 49ers: