Jets quarterback and former Buffalo Bill Ryan Fitzpatrick dropped back to pass for what would be the final time. After his team fell behind 22-3, Fitzpatrick led them back to within one score, and with twenty-four seconds left, the Jets had a chance, however small, at a game winning touchdown drive.
Fitzpatrick heaved the ball down the right sideline for wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins. Instead, he found Bills safety Bacarri Rambo. Rambo leapt into the air, and grabbed the game-winning interception.
“All week we were talking about their running of a certain route and I knew it was coming so it just allowed me to make a play,” said Rambo.
The interception secured Rambo his spot as the game’s most impactful player. Turning in his best performance of the season, Rambo forced three turnovers which led to 10 points and closed out the game.
In his postgame interview, Rambo deflected praise. Instead, he credited the work of the coaching staff during the shortened practice week.
“The coaches came up with a tremendous scheme,” he said. “They knew these guys like the back of their hands and knew what was coming. They put us in the right position to make plays, and that preparation made opportunities for myself and the rest of the guys.”
In the second quarter, after a Dan Carpenter field goal tied the game at three, Rambo made his presence felt on special teams. Charging down the field on the ensuing kickoff, he forced the ball loose for fellow safety Duke Williams pick up and run into the end zone for six points.
“He steps up in big time games,” said Williams of Rambo. “That’s what we have to do. Corey (Graham) made a play, I made a play, Rambo’s been making plays out there. When we have games with playoff implications and big conference games like this we have to make plays. Sometimes we have to help out offense out. We stepped up and did that.”
Rambo had a few more big hits to dish out. After running back Karlos Williams caught a 26-yard touchdown pass, scoring a touchdown in his sixth straight game, Rambo forced another turnover on the Jets next offensive possession. The Jets gave the ball to their running back Chris Ivory. Rambo didn’t wrap up to tackle in the pile of body traffic on the play. Instead he ripped the ball right from Ivory’s hands before falling to the turf with the ball.
“Chris Ivory is a stud,” Bills head coach Rex Ryan said, “and [Rambo’s] able to wrestle the ball out of his hand. He played a great game. Obviously a tremendous game.”
Rambo credited that fumble to instincts.
“I just go with the flow,” he said.
It’s more than going with the flow, though. After a precipitous slide out of the Washington Redskins organization, Rambo signed with the Bills on November 17, 2014. A sixth round pick out of the University of Georgia in the 2013 NFL draft, Washington made Rambo its starting free safety for that season. He lost the starting spot after two games, and in September 2014, he was waived by the team.
Rambo appeared in four games for the Bills in 2014, making his biggest impact against the Packers in Week 15 when he intercepted two passes off Aaron Rodgers in an upset win by Buffalo.
While his time in Washington may not have worked out, Rambo is finding a defined role now in Buffalo, and he’s keeping a simple mindset as to what that role is.
“I’m just here to make plays and have fun,” he said. “Whatever the coaches ask me to do, I’m going to do it to the best of my abilities. I’m going to go out there and play full speed and give it my all for the coaches and the rest of the players because I know they’re going to do the same for me.”