It was fitting that the day Jim Richter was inducted onto the Wall of Fame the Bills would put together a victory that was vintage of the good old days. A 37 point explosion in the 2nd and third quarters, that was a combined effort of all three units, led the Bills to a 37-17 victory over the Rams.
The game didn't start out well for Buffalo as they came out flat and fell behind 10-0 after one quarter. It looked like a repeat of last week early. Drew Bledsoe threw a poor interception, and after a good return and a late hit penalty, it only took the Rams one play to score on a touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce and go up 10-0.
It wasn't like last week though, all three units took turns in taking the game over, leading to the victory. First up, was the offense. The Bills responded with a nine play, 71 yard drive that would end with a Bledsoe touchdown pass of 10 yards to Mark Campbell. It came one play after the Bills were called for delay of game and the boo birds had come out.
Bledsoe quickly shut the fans up and would on the next series as well. The defense forced a three and out thanks to the first of three Lawyer Milloy sacks and the offense would score again three plays later as Bledsoe found Campbell again for his second of three touchdowns to give the Bills a 14-10 lead four minutes into the second quarter and minutes after it looked like they would not be in the game.
The Rams responded with an almost eight minute drive to a controversial touchdown pass to Torry Holt. The referees said he was forced out of the end zone, a judgment call but it looked like he wouldn't have come down in bounds. The Rams had a 17-14 lead.
The Bills offense would not die though, as Bledsoe continued his best quarter of football in a couple of years. He hit Sam Aiken for a 54 yard bomb on a flea flicker that Willis McGahee barely got back to Bledsoe. The drive would stall at the Rams 3 but the Bills were able to go into the locker room tied at 17 after being down early.
I was thinking at halftime that I had no idea how this game would turn out. The Bills couldn't afford to get into a track meet with this team and win and that was the way it was shaping up. That was when it was the special teams unit's turn to take the game over. Within the first four minutes of the third quarter Bobby April's unit was responsible for two touchdowns and a fumble recovery that setup a second Rian Lindell field goal that would give the Bills a 34-17 lead less than halfway through the third quarter.
The defense was also starting to show their stuff in the third quarter. They forced a three and out on St. Louis' opening possession of the third quarter. Jonathan "Don't Call Me Freddie" Smith would make some nifty moves in returning a punt 53 yards to the Rams 5. Bledsoe would hit Campbell for a touchdown on a beautiful play action pass on the next play to give the Bills a lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
The Rams went three and out again, as they would do many times in the second half. In fact, they went three and out on four straight possession and five time in the entire game. They had gone three and out only 11 times all year! The ensuing Rams punt was returned all the way for a score by Nate Clements. He went 86 yards untouched after getting great blocking to extend the lead to 31-17.
Amazingly enough, the special teams wasn't done with their dominating spurt. The ensuing kickoff was short and muffed by none other than Erik Flowers. Jason Peters recovered and it setup another Lindell field goal and make it 34-17.
The offense led a 17 point explosion in the second quarter and the special teams led a 17 point explosion in the third quarter, now it was time for the defense to take the game over. They had already started it with two straight three and outs and now they started teeing off on Marc Bulger. They would get six sacks in the game and pick him off three times, including a tipped pass and interception by Takeo Spikes and the same type of play by Sam Adams. That interception was at the Bills 7 yard line. Terrence McGee got into the act by ending another long Rams drive with an interception in the end zone. Both these picks ended any thought of a Rams comeback.
The offense would help out the defense as McGahee had some nice runs in the fourth quarter on his way to an even 100 yards. He had a beautiful 49 yard touchdown run called back by a holding penalty on Lee Evans. He made a beautiful hurdle and somehow stayed in bounds on his way to the end zone before it was brought back. The Bills would get a third Lindell field goal giving the game the final score.
This was a draw dropping win, especially the way it started out. This team shows no signs of giving up, especially at home where all there units seem to find a way to put it all together. This was the most impressive win of the year as each of the four wins have progressively been more impressive. This is a good sign. A better sign would be to find a way to do this on the road.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Rams. Obviously there are many more gameballs than goats: