A month of frustration was lifted off the shoulders of the Bills Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday as Buffalo turned five takeaways into 20 points en route to a 54-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Buffalo ended their four-game losing streak to raise their record to 6-5 and keep their AFC playoff hopes alive.
"We needed that," said Kawika Mitchell. "We were a minus-10 on the year, which means we're not going to win a lot of games. If you're going to be an effective team you've got to win the turnover battle and we did that."
"It certainly feels good to win and to get back on the winning track," said head coach Dick Jauron. "Our players worked hard preparing for this game. They got some bounces, they made a lot of plays."
The last time Buffalo put up 50 points or more in a game was on Sept. 8, 1991 in a 52-34 win over Pittsburgh. Their 54 points Sunday was the team's highest point total since they scored 58 points on Sept. 18, 1966 against Miami (58-24).
"You don't see that happen all that much and what was happening was our defense was getting turnovers for us," said Trent Edwards. "We were getting good field position from special teams and turnovers. Rian Lindell was hot with four field goals and our run game was going and it set up our play action pass game and it's why we were able to score."
"That's the first step we needed to get this momentum switched around and get a win," said Duke Preston. "It felt good to put up a lot of points like that we've just got to parlay it now and keep going."
Buffalo had 17 points off turnovers in the first half alone as Kansas City was perhaps as careless as they've been all season with the football. It staked the Bills to a 13-point half time lead that they would not relinquish (30-17).
"Defensively we got the takeaways that we hadn't been getting and (a lopsided score) is kind of what happens when it goes that way," Jauron said.
Buffalo had the first possession of the second half after deferring the opening kick and added to their total as Edwards capped a four-play 33-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run. It was his second rushing touchdown of the game.
"Marshawn and Fred Jackson are our running backs, not me," said Edwards. "There were just a couple of plays in there where we had a chance to get some extra yards if I ran."
Edwards also passed for a pair of touchdowns and finished the game 24-32 for 273 yards and a passer rating of 121.
"He performed well," said Jauron of Edwards. "This is the guy that we believe in. We also know that no matter who you are at that position or how many years you play there are going to be ups and downs. He's just learning how to play and he handled everything very well."
"I think he played well," said Lee Evans. "He made some plays with his feet. He really showed some determination trying to get in the end zone. He played with more confidence and they gave us some looks where we could get the ball down the field a little bit."
Edwards' touchdown passes were an eight-yard toss to Josh Reed to put the game away late in the third (47-24) and a 17-yard strike to a wide open Derek Schouman early in the fourth (54-24).
Reed had five catches for 50 yards and the score in his return from injury and a week after not recording a reception, Lee Evans also have five receptions for 110 yards.
"Josh (Reed) is an outstanding football player," said Jauron. "He's got great toughness, a terrific feel for the game around him, for running routes, for how to beat somebody and get open. They have a comfort level with one another there's no doubt."
"It was good," said Evans. "We certainly had more opportunities and I think Turk (Schonert) made a point of wanting to get me the ball at times. We didn't do it to where we had to force things. We stayed in rhythm, made some big plays, moved the ball down the field a little bit. So offensively we played pretty well."
Believe it or not the Chiefs offense looked sharp early as Tyler Thigpen went 4-5 passing for 67 yards on their opening drive including a 36-yard touchdown pass to Jamaal Charles for an early 7-0 advantage.
Buffalo answered with a touchdown of their own on the ensuing drive. Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson accounted for all 61 yards on the drive with Lynch giving a nice second effort on fourth-and-goal for a one-yard scoring run.
The Bills defense was bringing the pressure early with a variety of blitzes. Kawika Mitchell came in untouched on the Chiefs' second possession and bounced Thigpen over to Copeland Bryan, who recorded his first career sack on the play at the Kansas City one-yard line.
With the benefit of great field position on the ensuing punt, Buffalo's offense marched down to the three-yard line, but could not get the last three yards for a touchdown. On first-and-goal from the three Fred Jackson got two yards. However, on second and third-and-goal from the one Lynch was met at the line of scrimmage for no gain forcing the Bills to take a 19-yard field goal from Rian Lindell to make it 10-7 Buffalo early in the second quarter.
The Chiefs came storming back thanks in large part to a 63-yard burst by Larry Johnson. Buffalo looked to miss a fit in their run front and Johnson was through the hole and into the secondary quickly. Terrence McGee caught him from behind at the Bills two-yard line, but Thigpen on a play action rollout found a wide open Tony Gonzalez for a touchdown and a 14-10 edge.
But the wheels soon came off of Kansas City's wagon as they began coughing the ball up. Buffalo got their first takeaway deep in Chiefs' territory when Reggie Corner's helmet popped the ball loose from Jamaal Charles and George Wilson recovered it at the Chiefs' 25-yard line.
The offense managed just seven yards on the drive, but Lindell hit a 39-yard field goal to pull Buffalo to within a point (14-13) midway through the second quarter.
Kansas City moved into Buffalo territory on their next offensive series thanks to an illegal contact penalty, but on the next play Thigpen tried to squeeze a pass into Mark Bradley. He was unsuccessful. Leodis McKelvin jumped the route and took it 64 yards the other way for the go-ahead score (20-14).
"It felt like I was in college," said McKelvin. "My first pick in college went for a score in college. I'm just out there trying to do my job."
The Chiefs got three points back on a 45-yard Connor Barth field goal to make it 20-17, but Buffalo drove immediately back in the other direction on their next possession.
Trent Edwards tossed a 51-yard bomb to Lee Evans off play action to put Buffalo in the red zone just before the two-minute warning in the first half. The drive culminated in a 34-yard field goal by Rian Lindell for a 10-point Bills lead (23-17) with a minute and a half left.
Kansas City, which had been very protective of the football this season, coughed up their fourth turnover of the half, when McKelvin baited Thigpen to throw a deep out to Will Franklin. The Chiefs' signal caller put too much air under the ball and the Bills rookie cornerback slipped underneath Franklin to make his second interception of the game at the Bills 47-yard line.
After completing a 20-yard pass to Josh Reed and a 25-yard strike over the middle to Robert Royal, Trent Edwards stopped the clock with a spike on 1st-and-10 at the Chiefs' 18.
With time running out and no timeouts left, Trent Edwards left the pocket on a 3rd-and-7 at the Chiefs' 15-yard line and dove for the goal line with a pair of Kansas City defenders bearing down on him. The Bills quarterback found pay dirt with four seconds left on the clock to put Buffalo up 30-17 after Lindell's extra point at the half.
"It's been tough for us offensively as a whole, so it was a good day to get back on track and I think we did that," said Evans.
The Bills host San Francisco on Nov. 30 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.