It was a day where interceptions wound up on the highlight reel, but a veteran stalwart on that side of the ball arguably had the best game of his professional career in Buffalo's big win Saturday against Denver.
Chris Kelsay has been a consummate professional during his nine seasons with the Bills. None of those seasons have resulted in a playoff berth for Buffalo, but it's never changed the way the defensive end/outside linebacker has played the game. Saturday's effort was a prime example.
Forced to put his hand back down on the ground midseason after injuries compromised Buffalo's 3-4 defensive scheme, Kelsay has done what he can to deliver. On Saturday in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, Kelsay led the team in tackles with nine, contributing a pair of sacks and two quarterback hits.
One of those quarterback hits effectively put the game away with seven minutes remaining when his hit on Tim Tebow as he threw led to Buffalo's second interception return for a touchdown by Spencer Johnson in a 40-14 rout.
"Kelsay did a heck of a job on the back side pursuing Tebow and coming around," said Johnson. "He hit his hand and the ball popped up in the air. I was in the right place at the right time. I caught it and there was no one in front of me."
"I had a clear shot on him and as a left hand quarterback I launched to try to dislodge the ball from his hand and fortunately I was able to do so," Kelsay said.
Kelsay and company made sure to get their hits on the Denver quarterback every chance they got knowing his propensity to tuck the ball and run. The Bills outside linebacker, who has been playing more defensive end in recent weeks has been a force in the run front and was again on Saturday.
His biggest stop came on a 3rd-and-1 in the second quarter when he met Denver fullback Jeremiah Johnson off right tackle and stoned him at the line of scrimmage for no gain forcing a punt.
That punt was taken back 80 yards for a touchdown by Leodis McKelvin giving Buffalo it's first lead of the game. Kelsay had seven tackles by halftime.
"I don't know what the stats ended up but every time I turned around it looked like he was around Tebow," said head coach Chan Gailey. "He forced that interception at the end. He had a phenomenal game."
In the second half Kelsay contributed a tackle for loss and swooped in for an initial pressure on Tebow late in the third quarter. Tebow escaped, but eventually threw an interception into the arms of Justin Rogers leading to a Bills field goal.
Kelsay closed out his afternoon with his second sack on Tebow with the game already decided on a 1st-and-10 play with five minutes remaining.
"It was a lot of fun," said Kelsay. "I think I was put in a position to make some plays and I made some, and there were some that I wish I had back that I missed out there. Defensively we fought hard and our defensive coordinator did a great job of calling the game. I know the guys were excited in our locker room. I'm really happy for this win."
No game balls were handed out after Buffalo's Saturday victory. Chan Gailey appropriately deemed it a team win with all three phases putting touchdowns on the scoreboard, but most of Kelsay's teammates were in agreement that the veteran defender was deserving.
"We didn't give out game balls," said Johnson. "But I think we were all in agreement that Kelsay played a heck of a game."