The Buffalo Bills were in control of the game against the Arizona Cardinals late into the fourth quarter. As time expired in regulation, however, the Bills watched as a potential game-winning kick from Jay Feely bounced off the upright, giving them new life. They took advantage in overtime and snuck out a narrow victory - one they were grateful to have.
"It's huge, but it's not relief," said head coach Chan Gailey after the game. "It's excitement about where our team can go. This was a tough football game and it was against a good football team. To come on the road and win it the way we did, I am impressed with the way the team played."
"You can't explain the emotions," continued Gailey. "There is just no way. You don't think there is any way a guy is going to make a 61-yarder, and then you think for sure he is going to make the short one and he doesn't. There are highs and lows."
Feely nailed a 61-yard field goal with just over a minute remaining to tie the game at 16. The Bills then went three and out and watched the ensuing Shawn Powell punt travel only 30 yards, giving Arizona an opportunity to drive for the win. After moving to the 21-yard line, Feely seemed to have the game won, but Bills defensive lineman Alex Carrington got his hand on the kick, deflecting it just enough to careen off the left goal post.
"I got it pretty good," said Carrington in the locker room. "When I went out there, I told them that we were going to rush them with everything we have. I had Marcell (Dareus) beside me and (Kelvin) Sheppard behind me in the gap pushing Marcell, and we just got under their pads and I was able to get a hand up and get a piece of it."
The Bills put together a solid drive opening drive in overtime, but it stalled in Arizona territory. A punt was close to being downed inside the five-yard line, but gunner Ruvell Martin's foot was in the end zone, bringing the ball out to the 20. After two plays went nowhere, quarterback John Skelton - in the game for an injured Kevin Kolb - threw an interception to Jairus Byrd on a telegraphed pass down the middle. Byrd returned it to the six-yard line.
"It was just the principles of our defense," said Byrd of the interception. "The way we play it allows me to, depending on what the receiver does, frees me up to make plays. Fortunately, I was able to do that. From what the receiver did, I was able to go to the middle and help out."
The Bills ran one play to center the ball on the field before kicker Rian Lindell nailed his game-winning attempt from 25 yards out.
"I just try and hit a good ball," said Lindell. "I don’t care when it is, if it’s March or whenever it is. But I just try and hit a good ball. It was a great hold and great snap. I give Garrison (Sanborn) and Shawn (Powell) credit for that."
While Gailey wasn't "relieved" that the Bills got the win, members of his team used the word to describe their feelings.
"It does [bring relief]," said wide receiver Stevie Johnson. "We feel like that it was a great game on both sides. That’s not just your average team over there. They fought back and had a chance to win and we played big. (Alex) Carrington got his hand on the ball and gave us another chance. That’s the type of football that we can play, and we can play even better than that."
"That was a huge relief," said linebacker Bryan Scott. "The last two weeks, just to have those losses in your mouth, it hurts. You can’t sleep at night. To get this win and to go back home and now Tennessee is up next. This was a start of something very positive."
Ryan Fitzpatrick also would not say it was a relief, instead focusing on the notch in the win column.
"This was a very satisfying win for us," said Fitzpatrick, who finished 18-of-32 for 153 yards. "Not only to get us back on track, but with the way that everything’s been going throughout the week and the way we have come together as a team, it was a fitting ending to the game."
Instead of "relief," Gailey and his players chose to focus on the excitement in the locker room after getting back on track.
"We are all excited, because of how things went the past couple weeks," said Johnson. "To come out here and come together like we did and play a game like that is pure excitement for the guys internally. Not just verbally rah-rah, but inside it feels good for us coming through like that."
"We’re really excited," said Byrd. "We fought back and this was a really big win for us. Coming from our performance we had for the past two weeks, this is big."
"I should be [excited]. I am excited for those guys who have worked their rears off," said Gailey. "They lost some respect the last couple of weeks, and they were out to gain some respect back. I think they did that."