Sans Lynch, Bills rally for Bronco-spoiling win (Associated Press)
Attention, San Diego Chargers fans: You're welcome. But your quarterback is still a doofus.
The Buffalo Bills on Sunday did what they'd done only once in the past two months: won a football game. With a healthy Trent Edwards returned to the lineup and some timely big plays all around, the Bills improved to 7-8 on the season with a 30-23 victory in Denver.
Edwards shakes off rust
Once again, the Bills got off to a dreadfully slow start, trailing 13-0 early in the second quarter. Despite the deficit, Edwards had more than enough time to get rid of the rust after his two-game layoff, and his efficiency was the driving force to Buffalo's victory.
Edwards completed 17 of 25 passes (68%) on the day for 193 yards and a clutch touchdown throw to rookie Steve Johnson in the fourth quarter (Johnson's second touchdown in as many weeks). His 104.2 QB rating erased any after-effects of a certain third-string quarterback's performance last week against the Jets, and this win is the fifth fourth-quarter comeback victory in Edwards' first 22 career starts.
Marshawn Lynch scored Buffalo's first touchdown of the day to make the score 13-10 in favor of Denver at halftime, but a lingering shoulder injury kept him out of second-half action. Fred Jackson picked up the slack in a big way, rushing for 43 yards, receiving another 70 and scoring the game-winning touchdown with just over 8 minutes to play. Jackson also added 46 kick return yards, big plays for the Bills in terms of field position as the Broncos were kicking away from Leodis McKelvin most of the day.
Defense bends, doesn't break
Statistically speaking, Buffalo should have been dominated on the scoreboard. Jay Cutler threw for 359 yards, the Broncos won time of possession - in fact, they had a 2-to-1 advantage in this area at the half - and rushed for 181 yards and two Cutler scores on the day. Still, Buffalo's defense made enough plays to win.
A Kawika Mitchell interception snuffed out a Broncos scoring chance immediately following Jackson's touchdown run. Mitchell added six tackles and a sack in a redemption effort; the veteran has had several terrible games of late. Cornerbacks Terrence McGee and rookie Reggie Corner deserve a ton of credit as well; both recorded several key pass breakups late in the game as the Broncos were looking for the tying score. Donte Whitner forced a Brandon Marshall fumble that Corner recovered for Buffalo's second defensive turnover on the day. All of this was accomplished despite the fact that Cutler had all day to throw - again.
Despite being carved up in the first quarter, Buffalo surrendered just two field goals after Denver's initial touchdown, a development which proved crucial as the game moved on. Bryan Scott and McGee paced the Bills with eight tackles apiece.
Finally, mercifully, we're able to hand out some game balls tonight. Here we go, all five of 'em...
QB Trent Edwards. He did exactly what he needed to do - efficiently moved his offense down the field against what is, in reality, a very porous Broncos defense. He protected the ball and made heads-up plays. He's a winner.
RB Fred Jackson. 159 all-purpose yards and a score, with most of that production coming in the second half when Lynch left for good. That's absolutely clutch. The guy does everything.
WR Josh Reed. Absolutely the unsung hero of the game. Reed, the ultimate chain-mover in Buffalo's offense, pulled in 9 huge grabs for 79 yards. Reed is quite obviously Edwards' go-to guy in the clutch.
CB Terrence McGee. He gave up some catches and yards to Marshall, but who doesn't? He played great today, recording several key pass breakups in the second half. Excellent performance.
CB Reggie Corner. He was, quite simply, outstanding. He had an extremely difficult assignment, having to cover one of the game's elite slot receivers in Brandon Stokley. He was huge; like McGee, he also recorded key break-ups - including the biggest one of all on Stokley on fourth down with the Broncos looking to tie. If he doesn't break that up, the Broncos tie the game; it's that simple. He added a fumble recovery as well.
Exciting stuff for everyone, but I'm especially grateful to the 38 of you who joined me in today's open game thread(s). Kurupt took over the mantle of top commenter (157), but only because norcaliangelsfan is a brand new daddy. Congratulations, cali!
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MAN, does it feel good to win a football game. I don't care about the draft positions lost or the meaninglessness of the win or any of that garbage; this might be the last game the Bills win for a while, so let's savor it. Go Bills!