Late Lindell FG lifts Bills past Raiders (Associated Press)
The turnovers piled up and the mistakes piled higher, but a frantic fourth quarter comeback allowed the Buffalo Bills to defeat the Oakland Raiders at Ralph Wilson Stadium by a final score of 24-23.
Make no mistake about it: the Bills had absolutely no business winning this game.
The Bills nearly beat themselves with three turnovers, penalties, poor decisions (especially when it came to field position) and untimely errors. But the team rallied behind quarterback Trent Edwards, whose second straight week of fourth quarter heroics have the Bills at 3-0 for the first time since 1992. Ed. note: I was seven.
Raiders force the action for 3 quarters
In this day and age in the NFL, no week is an easy week - and the Oakland Raiders proved that. The Raiders imposed their will on the Bills for the first three quarters and part of the fourth, displaying a smash-mouth offensive style and, even more importantly, a fast, physical defense that had Buffalo's offense reeling. Edwards was sacked three times on the day, and Raiders rushers gave Buffalo's offensive line fits throughout the day - again, until the end of the fourth quarter.
The Bills kept themselves in this game, however, mostly due to an excellent effort from the run defense. We knew coming into the game that if the Bills held up against Oakland's formidable rushing duo of Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, quarterback JaMarcus Russell would have to beat the Bills. He nearly did - the Bills held McFadden and Bush to a combined 97 rushing yards, yet a Russell throw late in the fourth quarter found Johnnie Lee Higgins for an 84-yard score that extended Oakland's lead to 23-14.
Clearly, the game wasn't over at that point.
Edwards, offense come alive in fourth quarter
When it counted most - just as he did last week, and just as he's done a handful of times in his 12 career starts - Trent Edwards rallied his offensive troops. Buffalo put up 17 points in the fourth quarter, and clearly, they needed every one of them.
Edwards finished the day 24 of 39 for 279 yards with a score - a beautiful toss to Roscoe Parrish to cut the Raiders lead to 23-21 - and a controversial interception. Though he struggled to deal with a tough Raiders scheme for three quarters, he made big throws in clutch situations and had a QB rating of 81. What's more, he was responsible for keeping his teammates' heads in the game after Russell's big touchdown throw; he could be seen pacing the sideline, clapping his hands and pumping folks up. Kid's a leader. He grew up a bit more today.
I said it at the top, and I'll say it again now: the Bills had absolutely no business winning this game. But unlike years past, when the Bills would have folded and lost a close game, they overcome all of their errors and put up a win. It's encouraging, but it also gives Buffalo's young (and in some cases, immature) team some perspective. As the saying goes, "a win is a win is a win".
More stats for you: Marshawn Lynch scored twice and picked up 83 yards on 23 carries; five Bills receivers caught at least three passes, with the biggest ones being made by Parrish in the fourth quarter; Buffalo was once again big on third and fourth down, converting 6 of 13 opportunities; fullback Darian Barnes caught two passes for 34 yards in the first half; Marcus Stroud and Paul Posluszny tied for the team lead with six tackles each.
Rian Lindell: Missed a field goal early that looked like it would loom large, but redeemed himself with the game-winner as time expired.
Trent Edwards: Every week, our kid quarterback becomes a better leader on the field. We don't win this game last year, and we don't win it without Trent Edwards.
Paul Posluszny: Was active against the run and steady in coverage. He hasn't been talked about much, but for a young linebacker making his sixth career NFL start today, his play has been outstanding at middle linebacker.
Props to the 38 folks who stopped by for an excellent day in our Game Thread; bigger props to Kurupt not only for his work as moderator while I was at The Ralph, but for his day-high 192 comments. Big ups to the 38 names below:
RabidBuffalo, StuckInNJ, NJBillsfan, Kurupt, Cinga, the Skycap, JoeGoal, Memphisbillsfan, patamunzo, WABillsfan, taskersd, BuffCrunch, tlowe52, Ron From NM, silverstreak3k, TheK-GunNeedsReloaded, TheSharp, MarshawnMania, SPD, karovda, geno227, SebastianPruiti, Red Reign, BILLS, GhostDogg47, Hassanali181, BearsNecessity, Jay Elway, Joe P., Hopefulcynic, Amoc, billsstein, Krenn, chaosthepitbull, jdol1568, rexob, norcaliangelsfan, killascript