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What they're saying: National media are optimistic about the Bills

[, John Clayton – Last call](

  1. Thanks to stout D, Orton switch worked:The Bills' thrilling, 17-14 victory over Detroit proved that a smart quarterback can take advantage of a good defense and pull out a close victory. The Bills, despite missing defensive tackle Kyle Williams with a knee injury, have a top-10 defense that hits hard. They limited a potent Lions offense to 263 yards. Even though Williams didn't play because of a knee injury, the Bills pressured mostly with four-man rushes and got six sacks and eight tackles for a loss.

"We wanted to make [Lions QB] Matthew Stafford uncomfortable," said Marcel Dareus, who led Buffalo with three sacks.

By holding the Lions to 14 points, the defense allowed Orton to do his thing. Orton wasn't pretty. He completed 30 of 43 passes for 308 yards and stared into the eyes of Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis for an easy pick-six. Thanks to the defense, though, Orton needed only a couple plays to come back from a 14-0 deficit. With 9:23 left in the fourth quarter, Orton found Chris Gragg for a 2-yard touchdown. On the two-point conversion, Orton made the veteran move of recognizing the Lions' coverage and audibling to a Fred Jackson run to tie the game.

The game-clincher came with 21 seconds left with Buffalo at the Detroit 40-yard line. Orton caught the Lions in a blitz, but instead of going to the "hot" route, Orton waited for rookie Sammy Watkins to get past single coverage into the middle of the field and hit him for a 20-yard gain.

"He wasn't the hot read, but he knew he was pretty warm," Orton said.

Two plays later, Dan Carpenter hit a 58-yard field goal to put the Bills at 3-2. Sure, it helped the Lions that were thin at the skill positions because of injuries. Sure, it helped that kicker Alex Henery missed three field goals and will probably end up being the second kicker to be cut this year by the Lions. But the Bills battled adversity and took advantage of their veteran quarterback's experience.

Defensive gameball

Defense: Marcell Dareus led a relentless pass rush against Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford by getting three sacks, two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble in Buffalo's 17-14 win.

Photos from the Week 5 matchup between the Bills and Lions from Ford Field in Detroit., Don Banks – Snap judgments
• Given the all-in nature of Buffalo's 2014 season, illustrated perfectly by Kyle Orton replacing EJ Manuel at starting quarterback, the Bills' 17-14 comeback victory at Detroit cannot be over-dramatized. Having Manuel, the team's first-round pick in 2013, take a seat just 14 games into his tenure as a starter was a bold but necessary step by head coach Doug Marrone. The Bills climbed back over .500 at 3-2, stopped a two-game losing streak and earned their second road win of the season.

Orton, of course, was no savior. But no one thought he would be. This game was won in part by Buffalo's stout defense (tackle Marcell Dareus had a career-high three sacks) and thanks to three horribly missed field-goal attempts by Lions kicker Alex Henery (shank you very much, say the Bills). Fortunately, Buffalo had a kicker capable of getting the job done: Dan Carpenter nailed a monstrous 58-yard game-winning field goal with four seconds left, giving the Bills their only lead of the day and capping a 17-point comeback.

But Orton, despite a first-half pick-six thrown to Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis, was money when the Bills needed him to be, completing a key 20-yard pass to rookie receiver Sammy Watkins that made Carpenter's long-range attempt possible. It was the eighth overtime or fourth-quarter comeback victory of Orton's 10-year NFL career, and he finished an impressive 30-of-43 for 308 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

The Bills defense and running game are good enough to win with this season, especially in the weak AFC East. Buffalo doesn't require fantastic quarterback play, just solid, efficient passing with an emphasis on taking care of the football. Orton can fit that bill. He already has.

Sammy Watkins and Buffalo's legacy game.** How does Kyle Orton walk onto a new team with a new offense he hasn't run, start a game six weeks later against a hot defense, and find a way to win on the road? With some help from his friends. With the game in Detroit tied at 14 and less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, Orton needed about 25 yards to put the Bills in field-goal range. He threw a crossing route to Sammy Watkins, but the throw was behind the streaking rookie. Watkins reached back, flipped the ball into the air and toward himself, and hauled it in. What a catch. Gain of 20. That would have to be enough, and it was. Dan Carpenter's 58-yard field goal won the game.

"I could get one hand on the ball," Watkins said from Detroit, "and I knew it was a catch we needed. Kyle put the ball where I could get it all day. In the huddle before that last drive, we were all like, 'The defense has been playing so great, let's go out and win this game ourselves.' "

Watkins, playing his fifth NFL game, already gets the Buffalo thing. He said the win was for the family of the late Ralph Wilson; the team will be officially sold on Wednesday at a league meeting in New York, and so this game was the last one in a 55-season ownership run for the Wilson family. "This game was for what Mr. Wilson stood for, and for his legacy," said Watkins. 

Fine fifteen weekly power rankings

15. Buffalo (3-2). I just love the fact that the Bills have been owned by the Wilson family of suburban Detroit for 55 seasons, and in the last game of the Wilson reign, the Bills played in Detroit for the fifth time ever and won a thriller on a 58-yard field goal in the final seconds. Perfect. Oh, and the Bills host the Patriots on Sunday, with the winner holding sole possession of first place in the AFC East.

Grantland, Robert Mays – Week five winnersMarcell Dareus: Before last season, it probably would have been fair to say that Marcell Dareus was the (non-quarterback) disappointment from the top of the 2011 NFL draft. As Von Miller, Patrick Peterson, Aldon Smith, and Watt turned into stars, Dareus toiled in Buffalo. I think it's safe to say he is no longer the black sheep.

He turned in one of the best games of his career yesterday, just as the Bills desperately needed it. Linemate Kyle Williams was off to maybe the best start of his career, and with him inactive yesterday, the brunt of Buffalo's interior pass rush fell to Dareus. He responded with a career-high three sacks, two more tackles for loss, and two extra hits on Matthew Stafford, all while holding down the middle of a Bills defense that allowed about 3.6 yards per carry to Detroit's running backs.

It's hard to be better than that stat line, but Dareus really was yesterday — eating up double-teams, freeing up teammates on stunts, clogging the pocket. He and Williams have emerged as the best interior duo in the league, and they are wreaking havoc on opposing offensive lines.

Wide Receivers: Vincent Jackson, TB ( 3.5) and Sammy Watkins, BUF ( 3.2)**
The Buccaneers couldn't quite hold on against the Saints yesterday, but it wasn't for a lack of effort from Vincent Jackson, four missed tackles forced and 144 yards through the air giving him the highest grade of any receiver this week so far. For Watkins it's been an up and down rookie season so far but we definitely saw the positive this week, slowly but surely making the Bills look smart for picking him up in May's draft.

Kicker: Dan Carpenter, BUF: A close battle between a few kickers, but ultimately the game winner from 58 yards sealed the deal for Carpenter here.

Pro Football Focus, John Breitenbach – Performances of noteSammy Watkins, WR: 3.2
Breakdown: Watkins has enjoyed a mixed start to life in the NFL already recording two games below-3.0 and two above 3.0. This game fell into the latter category as the fourth overall pick this year showed why he was drafted so high. Watkins needed to bounce back after a three-drop game against the Texans and he did to the tune of seven receptions (on 12 targets) for 87 yards. The stat line doesn't record ridiculous catches, though, and Watkins had two of them. The first was a one-hander on an in-route which Orton put too far out in front of him. Watkins settled the pass with his right hand before managing to corral it with his left with a defender draped all over him. The best, though, was yet to come (see below). With positive contributions as a blocker (in the screen and run game) this was a complete performance by Watkins.

Signature Play: With the game on the line and just 21 seconds on the clock Orton fired a deep pass to Watkins which was overthrown. The ball looked as if it would fall harmlessly incomplete and overtime would ensue, but, out of nowhere, Watkins was able to reach up with his right arm and bat the pass into his path while running at full speed. The play picked up 20 yards and Carpenter had his shot at the game-winner.


Jerry Hughes, DRE:* 4.2
Breakdown:* While Mario Williams had a quiet game on one side, Hughes simply took over on the other. Much of Marcell Dareus' success was down to the disruption provided by the former first-rounder by the Colts. Hughes flashed his power, in particular, bull rushing left tackle Riley Reiff on a number of occasions. Overall as a pass rusher he recorded three sacks, a hit and three hurries in 32 rushes. It was more of a mixed game for Hughes in run defense as he recorded one tackle around the line of scrimmage but also lost contain on an outside run. All told, if Hughes is in this form and Williams can play as he did in the first few weeks, this Bills' defense will continue to be fearsome.

Signature Stat: Hughes is currently fifth amongst 4-3 defensive ends in pass rush productivity (10.6).

PFF Game Ball
There are no real standout candidates but for his amazing play in the clutch Sammy Watkins thoroughly deserves this accolade.

USA Today, Nate Davis – Week five winnersKyle Orton: It wasn't pretty early, but the Buffalo Bills' new quarterback eventually substantiated coach Doug Marrone's decision to bench EJ Manuel by leading the team back from a 14-0 hole to a 17-14 victory in Detroit. After knocking off rust in the first half, Orton passed for 195 yards and a TD after the break and moved Buffalo into range for the winning field goal with 4 seconds to go.

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