Week 6: Bills Win 27-17
Best effort of the season for Bills.
by Steve Saslow
In what was the most entertaining game of the year. The Bills won their second straight game against a division opponent at home, as they beat the Jets 27-17. Willis McGahee ran for a career high 143 yards and the defense made big plays at the right time to keep the Jets at bay as the Bills moved into a first place tie in the division.
The Bills won the toss for the sixth straight time and for the fifth of those six times scored on their opening possession. Kelly Holcomb moved the Bills downfield 60 yards in 10 plays and a beautiful play by two backup wide receivers gave the Bills a 7-0 lead. Jonathan Smith pulled in a third down out pattern at the four, sidestepped a tackle, went outside and got a great block from Sam Aiken enroute to the end zone.
Just like last week the Bills were hot early as they went up 14-0 early in the second quarter on another 10 play drive that ended in another Holcomb touchdown pass, this one to Eric Moulds as he caught an out pattern at the 10 and went in for the score.
Like last week the Bills were committed to letting their opponent back into the game. This time they didn't wait until after halftime. One of two long Curtis Martin runs setup a 44 yard field goal. The 49 yard run along with a 41 yarder later on led Martin a 148 yard rushing game.
The field goal was quickly followed by a 91 yard touchdown drive in 7 plays in just 1:55 to pull the Jets within 4 at 14-10. The drive was setup by the first of two interceptions by Holcomb. The defense allowed two big pass plays to Justin McCareins and a pass interference call against Nate Clements in the end zone before Martin ran it in from the one.
The Bills were reeling with just :30 left in the half as the defense allowed big plays and it appeared the second half collapse came a bit early. That was until the two biggest plays of a big play game happened for the Bills. Terrence McGee returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards and after a pass interference penalty, Rian Lindell hit a 50 yard field goal into swirling winds to give the Bills a touchdown lead at the half. McGee showed that he is the most electrifying player on the team as he excites the crowd every time he touches the ball. The much maligned Lindell is having a pro bowl season as the clutch kick gave the Bills the momentum back heading into the locker room.
The Bills held the momentum by finally scoring their first second half touchdown of the year. They forced the first of three second half Jets' turnovers on their first possession of the third quarter when Angelo Crowell picked off a pass. That came after the second big Martin run set the Jets up for a potential tying score. Instead the Bills drove 82 yards in 10 plays to a McGahee 1 yard touchdown run. The drive was all McGahee, sandwiched around two clutch catches by the rejuvenated Eric Moulds. He led the team with seven catches.
Nothing is ever real easy for the Bills though, on their next possession Holcomb had a pass picked off and returned to the two. Vinny Testerverde took it himself to pull the Jets within a touchdown heading into the fourth quarter. The team exchanged punts and the Bills moved the ball downfield in another time consuming 10 play drive that ended with a 38 yard field goal from Lindell. This drive ended when the Bills got cute and tried a screen pass to Daimon Shelton who dropped it. He may not have got the first down even if he caught it. Why did they go away from the run there? The field goal was clutch though and it gave the Bills a 10 point lead that they would not relinquish as the Jets next two drives ended in turnovers, a McGee pick and a London Fletcher fumble recovery of a bobbled snap.
It was all around the best game the team played all year. On defense they continue to give up too many big plays, but they also made big plays when they had to do. They also had too many penalties as they were called for a whopping 13 of them for 99 yards. These are things that they need to improve on to make a legitimate run. The fact is, even with the shortcomings, they have climbed back to .500 and are now in a surprising tie for first place in the under performing division. The fact that they are now 3-0 in the conference and 2-0 in the division could be huge later on. They now hit the road for two very tough games before the bye week. They need a split, if they somehow get a sweep look out, it could be the beginning of another great run.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Jets: