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Bills drop heartbreaker in overtime

Posted Oct 24, 2010

The Bills controlled the game for the first quarter and a half building up a 24-10 lead, only to watch it turn into a 34-24 deficit in the fourth quarter after turnovers led to 17 Baltimore points. Ryan Fitzpatrick orchestrated a late comeback on a career-high passing day to force overtime, only to see a controversial turnover lead to the winning points for Baltimore as Billy Cundiff kicked a 38-yard field goal for a 37-34 final leaving Buffalo winless on the season.

“It’s hard to win when you turn it over four times,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “I thought the turnover right before the half and the one right at the start of the third quarter really hurt. But I thought our guys fought their rear off and came back and got to a point where they could win the ball game. We’ve not been playing good in the second halves in previous weeks and the guys fought their rear off.”

It was a huge day for Fitzpatrick who went 29-43 for 373 yards and four touchdowns. It was the first time the Ravens have given up four touchdown passes in a game since Peyton Manning turned the trick against Baltimore in the 2007 season.

“This one is really hard,” said Fitzpatrick. “We got up early, we made some big plays early and then kind of gave them 14 points there with the fumble and the kickoff at the end of the half. Then the interception I threw to start the third quarter and they scored on the flea flicker on the first play. Then we dug out of the hole and we fought. I’m really proud of the way we fought back and responded. It’s frustrating, especially to lose this way.”

Buffalo was playing one of their best all-around games for most of the first half as they built themselves a 14-point lead midway through the second quarter (24-10), but it all unraveled as a Ravens field goal drive was followed by a Bills fumble on a kick return, and an interception on the first play of the third quarter. Baltimore scored 17 points in 1:17 to give the Ravens a 10-point lead (34-24).

But a Willis McGahee fumble in the fourth quarter opened the door for a Bills comeback. The former Bills back never got the hand-off clean from Joe Flacco and dropped the ball at the Bills 14-yard line. Kyle Williams recovered.

Though the Bills would eventually punt on the possession gained off the turnover, their defense would get a stop forcing Baltimore to punt themselves. Starting at their own 37, Buffalo covered 63 yards on five plays, with Fitzpatrick capping the drive on a 17-yard touchdown pass to Evans, his third of the game, as the wideout beat one-on-one coverage to pull Buffalo to within a field goal (34-31).

The defense then kept the momentum forcing the Baltimore offense off the field after five plays. Getting the ball back with 3:26 on the clock, Buffalo drove 59 yards on 12 plays and Rian Lindell bombed a 50-yard field goal to tie the score at 34 with four seconds left. The Ravens then took a knee on the ensuing possession forcing overtime.

Baltimore won the toss, but was forced to punt on their first possession. Buffalo’s offense was again moving the ball in their own territory. However, on a 2nd-and-10 from the Bills 41 Shawn Nelson caught a short pass over the middle. It appeared his forward progress was stopped, but Ray Lewis ripped the ball from the Buffalo tight end to force a turnover.

“I saw him get picked up and then everybody was kind of pushing and pushing and then I saw Ray Lewis sitting on the ground with the ball. That’s just what they called,” said Fitzpatrick. “I thought the play was over. I didn’t hear a whistle. I didn’t know if there was one or not, but I thought the play was over. I was surprised when they came out with the ball holding it up.”

“He was stood up and then he fell out forward, they’re going to call it because if you fall out forward and you’ve got the ball they’re going to give you forward progress,” said Gailey. “If you get pushed back and you fumble, they’d probably give you the forward progress and not call (the fumble).”

Four plays later Billy Cundiff kicked a 38-yard field goal for the game-winning points.

The Bills offense was carving up the vaunted Ravens defense in the first half using a good mix of run and pass. Buffalo scored on four of their first five possessions. Ryan Fitzpatrick was particularly sharp in the first half going 12-16 for 181 yards and three touchdowns, with two going to Lee Evans and the other to Steve Johnson.

“We basically read press man and usually we wouldn’t throw that ball, but we felt like we had the upper hand with them playing press on me, and I just gave him a little move and went down the sideline and Fitz saw it,” said Johnson of his 33-yard touchdown reception. “I’m not even the first option on that. Like I said everybody is live when we’ve got Fitz back there. That’s basically what it was.”

But after building their 24-10 lead, C.J. Spiller fumbled on a kick return late in the first half, and Fitzpatrick’s first pass attempt of the second half was tipped and intercepted by Ed Reed in Buffalo territory, leading to a pair of touchdowns. The Ravens suddenly had a 27-24 lead just nine seconds into the third quarter, and their defense held Buffalo’s attack scoreless until five minutes left in the fourth quarter when Fitzpatrick hit Evans for his third touchdown of the game from 17 yards out to pull the Bills to within a field goal late 34-31.

Buffalo’s defense then got the stop they needed to force a punt, and Fitpatrick and company then moved 59 yards over the final three minutes of the game giving Lindell the chance to tie the game from 50 yards out. Lindell’s kick would’ve been good from 60 yards as he tied the score with eight seconds left to force overtime.

But the turnover on the strip by Lewis would ultimately decide the game.

The Bills were sharp to start the game. After winning the coin toss and electing to defer, Buffalo’s defense promptly sent the Ravens offense three-and-out after Joe Flacco threw three straight incompletions.

Buffalo’s offense then went to Fred Jackson early giving him the ball on the first four plays from scrimmage, but a fumble by Roscoe Parrish after a reception on 3rd-and-8 that was forced by Ed Reed forced the Bills to punt.

Baltimore then put a seven-play drive together, but Buffalo got the Ravens to settle for a 41-yard field goal from Billy Cundiff for an early 3-0 lead.

Buffalo answered quickly. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense went to the air with the Bills signal caller going 5-5 passing for 62 yards including a 33-yard strike to Lee Evans down the near sideline for a touchdown to put the Bills ahead 7-3.

That was followed by an impact special teams play. Akin Ayodele forced Baltimore punt returner Josh Wilson to fumble and George Wilson recovered at the Ravens 15. After converting a 3rd-and-1 at the Ravens six, Buffalo could not get it into the end zone as they were forced to take a 21-yard Rian Lindell field goal for a 10-3 advantage late in the first quarter.

After Buffalo’s defense forced a punt, the Bills put together their longest scoring drive of the season, marching 91 yards on 11 plays. C.J. Spiller got Buffalo out of the shadow of their own goal posts taking a first down hand-off 13 yards for a first down. Roscoe Parrish followed five plays later with a difficult 3rd-and-11 conversion along the far sideline at midfield. Five plays later Ryan Fitzpatrick lofted a 33-yard touchdown pass over the shoulder of Steve Johnson to give Buffalo a 17-3 lead after Lindell’s extra point.

The Bills defense looked to have another stop in them, but a 40-yard pass interference penalty gave the Ravens a 1st-and-10 situation at the Buffalo 27. Joe Flacco would then find tight end Todd Heap for over the middle for a 26-yard touchdown strike to pull Baltimore to within a touchdown (17-10).

Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo offense however, came right back mixing the run with the pass effectively. After Fitzpatrick hooked up with Johnson for a 43-yard pass play, he hit Evans with a perfectly timed slant for a 20-yard scoring pass, Evans’ second of the game to make it 24-10 Buffalo.

The Ravens would go into two-minute mode with their no huddle attack driving all the way to the Bills seven-yard line with two minutes left in the first half, but a false start penalty followed by a Dwan Edwards’ sack forced Baltimore to take a field goal with Cundiff hitting from 48 yards out.

Unfortunately on the ensuing kick return, C.J. Spiller was stripped of the ball at the Buffalo 27. Baltimore’s Josh Wilson recovered. With 34 seconds left in the half Flacco again found Heap over the middle for a 14-yard touchdown pass to pull the Ravens to within four at the half 24-20.

Gailey saw progress in his team when it came to resilience, but in his mind there are no moral victories.

“I think we took a step forward in some respects,” he said. “Learning to fight to the end of a ball game. Not thinking they were going to lose when it went bad in the fourth quarter. Still believing they could win, expecting to win the game in the end. That was a positive. We didn’t play smart in some areas. I told them after the game that we fought hard, but we didn’t play smart in some areas. That’s my responsibility to continue to get them to play smart.”

Buffalo’s comeback effort forced overtime, but in the end they were sent home winless dropping to 0-6 on the season. The Bills travel to Kansas City next week to face the 4-2 Chiefs.

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