After two horrendous weeks for the Bills' defense, Sunday in Arizona provided them the opportunity to redeem themselves. By the end of the game they had done more than just that.
A week after giving up a record breaking 621 total yards to the 49ers, Buffalo's defense stifled the Cardinals' attack in a 19-16 overtime victory.
The Bills' defensive unit registered five sacks in the game, two a piece for defensive end Mario Williams and linebacker Nick Barnett, and one safety by defensive end Chris Kelsay.
Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb was under constant duress from the Bills' front seven that eventually sent Kolb to the locker room with a chest/rib injury.
Williams may have had his best game of the season with three tackles, including his two sacks, and three quarterback hits.
"I saw a lot of double teams that I didn't see in a few of those games, and I really didn't expect it," said Williams. "I thought I was going to be more isolated. But they double-teamed, with tight ends and running backs on my side, probably due to those last few games facing those defensive ends. At the end of the day, you just got to go after it and make it happen. It's not a given that someone's going to go out there and fall over."
Head coach Chan Gailey said the defense stepped up in the critical moments.
"There were five sacks in the game, and I bet we hit him a bunch more and could have had a couple more in the grasp sacks if they would have called it," Gailey said. "It was a great effort by that front line. I thought Kyle Moore stepped up. I thought he did some good things in that ball game. The rest of them all played well too."
Defensive end Kyle Moore played extensively because of the injured Mark Anderson, and had two quarterback hits.
Safety Jairus Byrd also played a huge role in the game by picking off two Arizona passes late in the game.
On a 3rd-and-10 from the Arizona 20 in overtime, Byrd jumped a Rob Housler route over the middle and returned the interception 29 yards to the six-yard line to set up the game-winning field goal.
"It was just the principles of our defense," Byrd said. "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."
With 5:54 left in the fourth quarter, Byrd picked a Kolb pass intended for tight end Jeff King at the Buffalo 34, stopping a potential scoring drive for the Cardinals.
Fellow safety George Wilson said Byrd's playmaking was huge.
"He's always been a ball hawk and he's always been a playmaker," Wilson said. "I work with him every day at practice. He's been battling some injuries these last few weeks, but he hasn't missed practice. He's been out there fighting through them and persevering and it's not easy. He works hard day in and day out and he made plays today when we needed them most. We can't thank him enough for rising up at the most needed time."
After a three and out by the Bills offense, the Cardinals took over with 50 seconds to go in the game on their own 47. Three plays later Arizona kicker Jay Feely lined up for a potential game-winning 38-yard field goal, but had it tipped by Bills' defensive tackle Alex Carrington causing the ball to bounce off the left upright.
"I got it pretty good," Carrington said. "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."
Linebacker Bryan Scott, who had five tackles in the game, said the defense was inspired when Gailey put the game in their hands after punting in overtime.
"He has the upmost confidence in us and we have the upmost confidence in him," Scott said. "When he sent us on the field, he had been talking about it all week, saying it would come down to the defense winning the game. So when he sent us out there, that was saying 'I believe in you guys,' and we stepped up."
"I'm excited for those guys that have worked their rear off," said Gailey. "They lost some respect the last couple of weeks and they were out to gain some respect back and I think they did it."