On a wintry day in Western New York, it was a rookie quarterback from the Bay Area dominating the Miami Dolphins in a 38-17 win for the Bills. Trent Edwards, making just his sixth professional start, tossed four touchdowns in the win - and may not have been the most important cog in Buffalo's victory.
The win puts the surprising Bills at 7-6 on the season, and they remain just one game out of the final wild card spot in the AFC playoff chase. The team will travel to Cleveland next Sunday in a match-up that will very likely determine their playoff chances; the 8-5 Browns currently hold that sixth and final playoff spot. This Bills win, however, gives the team a boatload of confidence heading into the biggest game of their young careers.
Offense Explosive in Victory
Edwards was the star of the game; his four touchdown passes mark the first time a Bills QB has accomplished that feat since 2004. Edwards' first two scores went to Robert Royal, and he rounded off his effort with two more scoring passes to Lee Evans (his only two receptions of the day). It was an outstanding performance for the rookie quarterback, who could not have more clearly out-played fellow rookie John Beck on the day.
It was Buffalo's running game, however, that was the true catalyst of the offensive effort. Behind a second consecutive outstanding effort by the Bills' offensive line, Bills running backs Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson combined for 222 rushing yards (115 for Jackson, 107 for Lynch). Having two runners kept Buffalo's run game fresh, and is something that head coach Dick Jauron plans to continue as the team moves forward. Having two 100-yard rushers in an NFL game is very rare; Miami didn't have an answer for much that the Bills did offensively today.
Bills D Forces 5 Turnovers
Miami's rookie QB, John Beck, did not stay in the lineup through the first quarter. The youngster, after being sacked twice and having a fumble returned by safety George Wilson for a touchdown, was pulled in favor of veteran Cleo Lemon. Lemon did not fare much better, throwing two interceptions and getting sacked three more times in a pedestrian offensive effort for the Dolphins.
After registering just 10 sacks in the team's first 11 games, the Bills have recorded 8 in their last two and seem to have finally found a pass rush. It helped the team's playmaking, as Terrence McGee notched his third INT of the season and Donte Whitner notched the second INT of his career. Despite the success that Samkon Gado had against the team (93 total yards, 2 TD), the Dolphins accomplished little else offensively as they were forced to play from behind early.
Rumblings Game Balls
It was tough to bring this down to just three guys, but it's done.
QB Trent Edwards: He finally had some help offensively and made the most of it with one of the best QB performances in Buffalo in quite some time. As his confidence grows, we should continue to see big plays from this kid.
The O-Line: What else can you say? The unit has avoided injuries this season (knocking on wood right now) and have finally started to gel. Today, they sprung two 100-yard rushers, and Edwards wasn't sacked. Another great performance.
DE Aaron Schobel: We rip on him a lot here, so it's time to give him credit when it's deserved. Schobel was all over the field today - he played the run pretty well as usual, and he was also Buffalo's most consistent pass rusher in that department's best effort of the season. He'll need to keep up that play as the team looks to keep their playoff hopes alive in Cleveland next week.