Bills head coach Chan Gailey said the pass rush was the team's top priority in the bye week with just four sacks in their first six games. On Sunday at the Rogers Centre Buffalo's defensive front dominated dropping Washington's John Beck a season-high nine times. A pair of touchdown receptions by Scott Chandler proved to be more than enough in a 23-0 victory for the Bills over the Redskins.
"That was amazing to go and get nine sacks against that team," said Gailey. "They really worked hard at it during the bye week. I don't think anybody expected that. I'll be honest with you I didn't expect that. They gave such a great effort and did a great job of working technique and getting back to fundamentals."
"Coverage and pressure go together," said Spencer Johnson, one of eight players with a quarterback takedown. "The guys in the back covering gave us time to get to him and we get to him and force the quarterback to throw the ball before he wants to. It goes together. We have a great defensive backfield and D-line we got after the quarterback and it showed with the turnovers we got."
The Bills got on the board first, which also aided the defensive effort, putting together an efficient eight-play 80-yard drive. David Nelson got the series off to a good start with a 26-yard reception over the middle to move Buffalo out near midfield. Mixing in a steady diet of Fred Jackson the Bills moved into the red zone. Ryan Fitzpatrick then hit Scott Chandler, who gained late separation along the near sideline, and just ducked the football inside the pylon for a 20-yard scoring play (7-0).
"We were able to run a flag route and Fitz hit me in stride, I think he had to get it over a backer because he had to get it pretty high," said Chandler. "I was just able to turn it up and get it in the end zone."
A fumbled snap by Ryan Fitzpatrick early in the second quarter, which was recovered by Brian Orakpo gave Washington a prime scoring opportunity at Buffalo's 31-yard line. But John Beck was sacked on first down by Arthur Moats and Nick Barnett putting the Redskins in long down and distance. A safety blitz got the Bills another sack on 3rd-and-16 as Jairus Byrd came off the back side to force a field goal attempt.
"I just came off the edge," said Byrd. "It was a great call by coach Edwards. He put us in a good position. I just came off and just made a play and that's really what I'm supposed to do and I did it. It was a great call."
Spencer Johnson would be the next defender to step forward as he blocked Graham Gano's 49-yard field goal attempt to keep the Bills up a touchdown.
"It's penetration and doing what the coach asks us to do, rushing hard. That's what it is," said Johnson. "Those are game changers."
Buffalo's offense was then the beneficiary of a pass interference penalty as Josh Wilson was called for pass interference on a deep ball intended for C.J. Spiller down the far sideline. The 34-yard penalty was crucial as the Bills drive stalled leading to a 37-yard Rian Lindell field goal for a 10-0 lead with just under nine minutes left in the half.
After the defense sent Washington's sputtering offense three-and-out for the third time in the half, the offense methodically moved the ball into Redskins territory before Fitzpatrick hit Naaman Roosevelt on an inside slant play for 22 yards to set up 1st-and-goal at the Washington nine-yard line. However, the drive would produce no points as Fitzpatrick's late throw over the middle intended for Stevie Johnson was picked off in the end zone by London Fletcher.
The defense again sent the Redskins three-and-out thanks in large part to a Dwan Edwards sack, the fourth of the half for the Bills matching their season total.
With just over a minute left the Bills with a pair of timeouts had a chance to put points on the board. Fitzpatrick gunned a pass on 1st-and-10 play from the 31 to Fred Jackson, who took off for 46 yards into Redskins territory. But Fitzpatrick was drilled as he delivered the ball by a blitzing London Fletcher and shaken up on the play.
"I tried to make sure he was alright after the play," said Jackson. "It was good for him to get back in there."
After an injury timeout he did stay in the game, but time ran out on Buffalo as Fitzpatrick had to quickly spike the ball on 3rd-and-8 at the Washington 21. With two seconds on the clock, Lindell put a 44-yard attempt through for a 13-0 halftime edge.
Jackson apparently rested well at the half because on the first play from scrimmage to start the second half, he burst through the line on an off tackle play and rumbled 43 yards to the Washington 37.
"That's just what I feel like I have to do. We know if we get the ball in the second half we want to go out and put up points," he said. "I think it's the mindset of everybody on the field. I just so happened to be the one that's able to do it. We know if we go out and put up points it allows us to get into a rhythm early."
Six plays later Fitzpatrick threw a beautiful touch pass to the back left corner of the end zone where Scott Chandler ran under it for his second touchdown of the game. Lindell's extra point made it 20-0 Buffalo early in the third quarter.
"Fitz did a great job," said Gailey. "We had two good patterns and Fitz read both of them perfectly. They doubled Stevie on the second one so I knew he was going to the front side. I just didn't know which of the front guys he was going to get it to in that situation and Scott is the one that came open and he did a good job getting it to him."
With his second touchdown reception Chandler tied the Bills franchise mark for most touchdowns in a season by a tight end with six (Pete Metzelaars 1992, Jay Riemersma 1998).
Buffalo's defensive front continued to make life miserable for the John Beck as he rarely had time to set up in the pocket. He was dropped six more times in the second half as the Redskins did not have a possession last more than eight plays in the game until their final series.
"We stopped the run early," said Byrd. "The front seven did a great job of stopping it early and we got some points too so it worked hand in hand. They had to play catch up and we were able to play off of that and get pressure."
George Wilson ended an early fourth quarter Washington possession with an interception on a pass intended for Fred Davis at midfield. Jairus Byrd then followed on the next Redskins series picking off a pass to the end zone after Donte Stallworth fell down on the play.
The Bills had a chance to add to their lead midway through the fourth quarter, but Lindell's 44-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright. He would later hit a 41-yard attempt for the game's final points in the 23-0 final.
Buffalo is now 5-2 on the season and is again tied atop the AFC East with New England after their loss to Pittsburgh. They host the division rival New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium next Sunday for a 1 pm kickoff.