Greer, Bills eke out another fourth quarter W (Associated Press)
For the second straight week, it wasn't exactly how the Buffalo Bills drew it up. Trailing 14-6 at halftime and by a point entering the fourth quarter, Buffalo kicked it into cardiac gear once again, scoring 18 points in the final stanza in a 31-14 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
Running back Fred Jackson and cornerback Jabari Greer notched their first career touchdowns as professionals to vault Buffalo to the lead, and Lee Evans hauled in a 39-yard touchdown pass and a two-point conversion from Trent Edwards to ice the game for the Bills. The final score, however, masks what was another sloppy performance by the Bills, particularly offensively.
Offense struggles early... again
The Bills kicked just two field goals in the first half, trailing by eight points after several mistakes and bad penalties. Edwards was sacked four times in the game - all in the first half - and threw an interception in what was his weakest performance to date. Jason Peters was flagged twice (the team themselves were flagged five teams, a season high), highlighting a poor performance by the offensive line. Edwards completed 15 of 25 passes for 197 yards with a score and a pick, good enough for a QB rating of 81.6 (dropping his rating to 93.5 on the season).
Buffalo's running game also struggled to get going, with penalties on Peters and Melvin Fowler negating two long Lynch runs in the first half. As a unit, however, Buffalo was much more effective in the second half, and the combination of Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson had their most productive game to date, combining for 103 yards on 26 carries. A 22-yard score by Jackson in the third quarter cut the lead to 14-13.
This was the Bills' third performance in which the offense got off to a shaky start this season; they've made up for it, however, with 38 points in the fourth quarter in their last three victories.
Defense tightens up the screws, too
Buffalo had its poorest outing of the season defensively, giving up several big plays on the day - especially to all-world running back Steven Jackson, who scored on a 29-yard run and amassed 188 total yards on the day. Despite the big plays, Buffalo's defense did what it needed to do to keep the game close enough to win in the fourth quarter.
The Bills lost cornerback Terrence McGee to a sprained right knee on the day, but still played well against the pass. It was Greer's 33-yard interception return that gave the Bills the lead for good. The Bills were also without DT Marcus Stroud (shoulder) for a time, but the big defensive tackle returned to action and played without hindrance.
The team's third-down defense was once again stingy, holding the Rams to just a 23% conversion rate on the day (3/13). Rams quarterback Trent Green was sacked twice and the Bills forced two turnovers to slow down the Rams' attack just when the team needed it; at one point in the fourth quarter, Jackson had three rushing yards in the second half. In fact, the Bills held Jackson to just 11 yards rushing in the final two quarters of play.
Oh, heck - we'll go with four game balls for the Bills' fourth straight win...
Fred Jackson: Teams can keep keying on Marshawn Lynch all they want, because Jackson can make them pay. He carried 7 times for 46 yards today and notched his first career touchdown. Also caught three passes.
Paul Posluszny: He's still proving to be the team's best player on what is, mostly, a no-name defense. He made a lot of big tackles (he led the team with 8) on Jackson, and made some big hits while blitzing. Love watching this guy play.
Jabari Greer: The pressure was on when McGee went out with his knee, and Greer responded in a big way. His pick-six sealed the win, and his coverage was once again excellent.
Trent Edwards: No, it wasn't his best performance. No, it wasn't the offense's best performance. But Edwards deserves a ton of credit, once again, for his composure - and for taking hits. He kept getting up, just like his team. Kid's a leader.
Game thread(s) Roll Call
Props to norcaliangelsfan for pacing the open threads with 181 comments on a record day at Rumblings - 34 users combined for 1,166 comments. Good on you, folks. Thanks to the following folks for joining me in today's open threads:
StuckInNJ, karovda, norcaliangelsfan, BuffCrunch, Cinga, thefourwinds, twoeightnine, billsstein, BillsFan119, BeastMode, WABillsfan, NJBillsfan, Ron From NM, BILLS, Joe P., sireric, TheSharp, silverstreak3k, Memphisbillsfan, D.O., chaosthepitbull, Crizal, LuBAR, fletcherjd, south123, Sky Kalkman, sly, geno227, BillsNorth, jdol1568, the Skycap, Zumone, Hassanali181