Week 4: Bills Hold On To Beat Vikes 17-12
Losman manages solid game as Vikings rally falls short.
by Steve Saslow
The Bills rode a strong effort by J.P. Losman and a Willis McGahee one yard plunge to a 17-12 win over the Vikings. The defense was solid throughout but struggled in the fourth quarter as they barely held off a last minute Vikings comeback attempt as the game ended with Minnesota on the Bills 16 yard line.
Minnesota went up 3-0 with a 37 yard Ryan Longwell field goal midway through the first quarter. The Bills offense got rolling with a 12 play, 79 yard drive late in the first quarter that ended with McGahee's plunge giving the Bills a 7-3 lead early in the 2nd quarter.
The Bills offense moved the ball well through the air as they mixed in some screen passes with a lot of running that was like running into a brick in the middle of the Vikings defense. A late 2nd quarter drive ended in a missed 44 yard field goal by Rian Lindell. The Vikings turned it around for a 49 yard kick by Longwell as the first half expired leaving the Bills with just a one point lead at the half.
The Bills opened the 2nd half and continued to move the football as they went down the field. The drive was driven by a 23 yard reception by Josh Reed on a 2nd and 20 play and a 15 yard scramble by Losman on another 2nd and long play. That setup a beautiful play by Peerless Price as he caught a pass in the backfield on his knees got up, broke a tackle and rumbled down the sideline for an 8 yard touchdown reception that gave the Bills a 14-6 lead.
An interception by Angelo Crowell setup a Lindell 28 yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to give the Bills an 11 point lead. They played very conservative on that drive as they had a first and goal at the 7 and ran three straight times and took a false start penalty to push them back to a field goal attempt.
The defense was dominant most of the day as they held the Vikings running game to nothing all day and followed up the big turnover by Crowell with an amazing diving interception by London Fletcher. They couldn't turn that into points as the conservative play almost gave Minnesota a chance to win.
The Vikings drove down to a 29 yard touchdown pass to Marcus Robinson, but after a false start penalty, Minnesota missed the two point conversion giving the Bills a 5 point lead. Penalties were a leading theme on the day as the two teams combined for 27 penalties including 15 by the Bills for 104 yards. There were many quirky penalties on special teams as there were three fair catch interference penalties in the 2nd quarter! One by the Bills, thwarted a bloop onside kick recovery by Kiwaukee Thomas.
As the Bills tried to run out the clock late in the game, they gained a first down but were forced to punt giving the Vikings one last gasp. A bomb to Robertson was incomplete but he had Terrence McGee and Donte Whitner beat. The Vikings last ditch effort ended 16 yards short of the winning score.
This wasn't a perfect game by any means. There were way too many penalties and a shortage of good runs most of the days. The defense was awesome against the run and made some big plays at the right moments but almost collapsed in the final minutes for another devastating Bills loss. Fortunately, they were able to hold on and showed that the first quarter of the season is a successful one. Who would have thought that the team would be 2-2 at this point with four close games? Not bad for a team that will continue to improve with good, solid coaching and a young, improving team. The one person improving more than anyone else is Losman. He appears like he may become the solid, starting quarterback the Bills thought they had when they drafted him.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Vikings: