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Lindell, turnovers lead Bills past Chiefs

In a game that could easily be described as the ‘who-wants-it-less-bowl’, the Bills wanted it a little bit more.

The Buffalo Bills picked up their second win in as many years in Arrowhead Stadium, surviving against the Kansas City Chiefs, 16-10. It wasn’t pretty and it sure wasn’t textbook, but the Bills improved their record to 5-8 this season and 2-2 under interim head coach Perry Fewell.

There were bright spots, low points and plenty of empty seats. There were turnovers and missed opportunities. It was a typical game you’d expect to witness between two bad football teams. But for most of this decade the Bills have mastered the art of beating inferior competition.

Buffalo relied heavily on the running game, Rian Lindell’s leg and Matt Cassel’s arm. For the first time all season, the Bills were finally able to get Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson going in the same game. Lynch (84 yards) and Jackson (99 yards) led the Bills to a 200-yard effort on the ground, while kicker Rian Lindell connected on three field goals (41, 24 and 36 yards). Meanwhile, on the Kansas City side of things, Jamaal Charles became the latest running back to hand the Bills their lunch. Charles ran for a career-high 143 rushing yards, including a 76-yard touchdown. Charles finished the game with 181 total yards on 27 touches.

As far as the quarterbacks are concerned, Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Matt Cassel won’t make anybody forget Kelly vs. Montana, or even Grbac vs. Johnson for that matter. Despite the herculean effort by Charles, the Chiefs couldn’t overcome Cassel’s miserable day. Cassel followed up last week’s benching against Denver with four interceptions, three coming in the fourth quarter. He was sacked four times and overthrew his receivers that could have resulted in touchdowns. Cassel completed 27 of 43 passes for 224 yards with a quarterback rating of 35.4.

Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t exactly turn in his best Peyton Manning impression. Fitzpatrick threw for a very mediocre 86 yards on 12 of 20 passing. Despite completing 60 percent of his passes, Fitzpatrick did his best to channel Trent Edwards, averaging just 4.3 yards per pass play. His longest completion of the afternoon was 17 yards to rookie tight end Shawn Nelson. Fitzpatrick committed two turnovers, a fumble and a badly thrown interception among three Chiefs defenders. His 9-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens helped the Bills draw first blood in the first quarter, 7-0. The Bills entered the game knowing and needing to run the football, but Fitzpatrick’s shortcomings kept Buffalo extremely one dimensional and kept the Chiefs hanging around the entire game.

Normally, three turnovers don’t result in many wins in the NFL but the Bills were fortunate (extremely fortunate) the Chiefs came close, but couldn’t seize victory. Buffalo led 13-3 in the third quarter when Charles pumped life into Arrowhead with his 76-yard touchdown run, cutting the lead to 13-10. Lindell booted his third field goal of the game from 36 yards out to give the Bills some breathing room at 16-10 with 8 minutes to go in the game. However, the Chiefs weren’t going to go away quietly.

On the next possession, Kansas City started from their own 20-yard line and that ‘uh-oh’ feeling rapidly starting creeping up. Cassel converted two third downs to Bobby Wade and Leonard Pope respectively, and Bills rookie Jairus Byrd was flagged for pass interference all the way down at the Buffalo 21 yard line. But the football gods smiled on the Bills on the next two plays. After so many games times of seeing the Bills falter in the fourth quarter, maybe those football gods felt as if they finally owed Buffalo, if only for one game.

Chris Chambers dropped a pass that would’ve given the Chiefs first and goal at the Bills five and on the next play, Byrd redeemed himself for the pass interference penalty, intercepting Cassel in the endzone with about two minutes left in the game. It was Byrd’s league-leading ninth interception of the season. The Bills, however, were not completely out of the woods. The offense failed to pick up a first down that would have iced the game and were forced to punt the ball back to Kansas City with a minute to go. Cassel’s last desperation heave down the field on the final play of regulation was intercepted by George Wilson, preserving the victory for Buffalo.

The Bills improve to 5-8 this season, 2-2 under Perry Fewell. After two weeks on the road, Buffalo returns home next weekend to host the New England Patriots.

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