Over the last two weeks, the Buffalo Bills haven't exactly proven themselves capable of playing competitive NFL football on an even playing field. What they have done, however, is proven themselves quite proficient at winning football games that their opponents simply don't want to win themselves.
Jairus Byrd intercepted two more passes, Ryan Fitzpatrick made some timely throws in an otherwise mediocre performance, and the Bills recovered a muffed fumble late in regulation - sounds familiar, right? - to escape Carolina with a 20-9 victory.
Statistically, Buffalo was dominated in this one. Carolina gained 425 yards offensively, two and a half times the amount Buffalo's still-struggling offense managed (167). Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams had a big game, gaining 149 yards on 21 touches and scoring a big touchdown in the fourth quarter to cut Buffalo's lead to 17-9. But three Jake Delhomme interceptions - the first two to Byrd, with a final desperation heave picked off by George Wilson to seal the win - and the aforementioned muffed punt led directly to 17 of Buffalo's 20 points on the day. Buffalo has intercepted nine passes in the past two weeks, and the plethora of turnovers is the biggest reason for the Bills' two-game winning streak.
Buffalo got the scoring started in the first quarter when Marshawn Lynch scored from seven yards out to make it 7-0. The score was set up by a Byrd interception on Delhomme. Fred Jackson was tackled in the end zone for a safety in the second quarter, sending the teams to the locker room with the Bills up 7-2. Buffalo's defense held firm in the third quarter, and in the fourth, the second of Byrd's interceptions set up a Fitzpatrick-to-Lee Evans touchdown to make it 14-2. Fitzpatrick then hit Evans on a 50-yard bomb on the next possession, setting up a Rian Lindell field goal to make it 17-2. Williams then capped off a frenetic Panthers drive to cut the lead to 17-9, but after a nice defensive stop, Panthers returner Kenny Moore fumbled a Brian Moorman punt. Derek Fine recovered, Lindell added a field goal to make it 20-9, and Wilson's INT ended the game late.
The Bills were beneficiaries of an opportunistic defense, some timely big throws from Fitzpatrick (who whovered somewhere between mediocre and quitely proficient in this one), and truly outstanding special teams play. They clearly aren't anywhere near being a serious playoff contender at the moment, but they're keeping themselves in the playoff chase and giving themselves a chance to improve and make a (more) serious run. (In a perfect world, anyways. One where the Bills don't play like garbage ever.) The win puts Buffalo at 3-4 on the season, with a Week 8 home date with the 4-3 Houston Texans looming.