An energetic Bills defense, steady offense and a sure-footed kicker allowed Buffalo to put just enough points on the board to overcome an 11-point second half deficit to win 17-16 over the Redskins at FedEx Field.
"It's unfortunate one of those teams had to lose on this day," said Dick Jauron in reference to Sean Taylor's passing. "I'm just glad we came out with this win. I thought our guys really fought hard."
Buffalo's defense got a couple of late stops, a safety and a revitalized pass rush got two takeaways in Washington territory to give Buffalo a chance in the second half against the Redskins. Down 11 the Bills offense could manage only field goals, but four of them were enough as Rian Lindell's fifth of the day was true from 36 yards for a dramatic 17-16 comeback victory over Washington.
"Perry (Fewell) and the whole defensive staff have done an outstanding job all year," said Jauron. "We got some takeaways and we hadn't been getting any. That was big in this football game for us. But they did a great job and they did a great job early hanging in there and not letting them in the end zone."
Washington was the victim of their own attempt to be clever. Lindell initially lined up for a 51-yard attempt, and in an effort to ice Buffalo's kicker the Redskins called timeout as he made his first attempt, which was good. They then illegally called timeout a second consecutive time as Lindell's 51-yarder went through the uprights and incurred a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
"It kind of surprised me a little bit," said Lindell. "I thought, 'Wait that's 15 yards.' Brian (Moorman) even said something to them. The refs conferred and said, 'Yeah that's a penalty.' It's definitely nicer to be closer."
Lindell then effortlessly put a 36-yard field goal through for the winning points with four seconds remaining. With the kick Lindell tied Steve Christie's team record for consecutive field goals at 17.
Meanwhile the Bills defense, which had not recorded a takeaway in three games, used effective and consistent pressure on Washington quarterback Jason Campbell to force turnovers.
On 3rd-and-7 from the Washington 38, Campbell was flushed from the pocket and Kyle Williams caught him at the ankles. Larry Tripplett quickly followed up hitting Campbell up high to force a fumble. The loose ball was recovered by Angelo Crowell at the Redskins 39.
"I'm just trying to hit the quarterback," said Tripplett of the play. "I saw him coming. We had a blitz on at that time and I was kind of peeling back and Kyle did a great job of flushing him back to me."
The offense however, gained just eight yards on five plays and had to settle for a 43-yard field goal by Lindell to make it a one score game (16-8).
That was followed by a fantastic diving pass breakup by Terrence McGee on the Redskins' next possession. Campbell rolling away from pressure on 2nd-and-6 at the Redskins' 16 threw a pass intended for Santana Moos, but McGee dove in front of Moss to knock the ball straight up in the air.
Larry Tripplett swooped in and caught the ball before it hit the ground for his first career interception at the Washington 24.
"They were running away from us and Terrence batted it away," said Tripplett. "That ball just stayed in the air and I just tried to make a play on it. I was running over toward the ball because they were sliding away from me. I just ran over there and the ball came to me."
However, after a nine-yard reception by Josh Reed on 3rd-and-5 set up a 1st-and-goal at the 10, Buffalo went in reverse.
A holding penalty and a fumbled snap on successive plays doomed any hopes of a touchdown as Buffalo had to again take three instead of seven with a 24-yard field goal from Lindell to pull with five (16-11).
Buffalo made it a two-point game (16-14) with 6:33 to play with Rian Lindell's fourth field goal of the game as a 54-yard catch and run by Fred Jackson put the Bills in scoring territory, but Dwayne Wright was dropped for a one-yard loss on a 3rd-and-1 at the Washington 14.
The Bills defense held Washington to just one touchdown on four red zone opportunities as they spent almost 33 minutes on the field. But the Buffalo offense led by Trent Edwards (22-36, 257 yards) proved just effective enough to squeeze out a victory.
"It was just enough," said Edwards. "Give a lot of credit to our defensive guys. They were holding them to field goals in the first half and they knew if we could get on track in the second half offensively and the defense kept making plays for us we could be in a postion there at the end to win."
"I like the way he manages the game. I like his demeanor," said Jauron. "He doesn't look rattled to me on the field. He did make some mistakes, but in the end he sits in there and he puts the ball on the money and gave us a chance to win it."
Buffalo's second half got off on the right foot as Edwards led the offense on an efficient eight-play 49-yard drive that would pull them to within four of Washington after a 38-yard field goal by Rian Lindell.
Lee Evans accounted for better than half the yardage on the drive, with an acrobatic 29-yard reception along the left sideline to get Buffalo in field goal range.
But Washington had an answer responding with a 10-play drive in which Jason Campbell went 5-6 passing for 56 yards and Clinton Portis provided the rest including his three-yard touchdown run to give Buffalo a 16-5 edge with five minutes left in the third quarter.
In the first half the Bills defense was effective in forcing Washington to accept field goals instead of touchdowns. Buffalo was helped by a Washington false start on 4th-and-1 at the Bills five-yard line which led to a 27-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham (3-0).
On the Redskins next possession back-to-back sacks by Mario Haggan and Aaron Schobel on scrambles by Jason Campbell forced Washington to take a 28-yard field goal from Suisham for an early 6-0 advantage.
The defense however, did get Buffalo on the board first. After Brian Moorman pinned Washington deep at their own eight-yard line, the Bills brought pressure on 3rd-and-11 at the seven-yard line and Angelo Crowell dropped Jason Campbell for a safety to cut the Redskins lead to four (6-2) midway through the second quarter.
"I think the safety was huge for our psyche and attitude at that time," said Jauron. "It was a big play in the game."
Buffalo improved to 6-6 on the season with their playoff hopes still alive. They host Miami next Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.