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Buffaloed In Baltimore: Cundiff’s Overtime FG Helps Ravens Survive Scare from Bills

Wow.

Where exactly did that come from? 

It’s been a long time since the Buffalo Bills displayed  a show that was reminicent of The Greatest Show on Turf.  Somewhere, Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk are nodding their heads in accpetance.

Sure earlier this season, they went up to New England and put a charge into the Patriots, showed signs of breathing and ultimately wound up losing.  And despite the same script followed in Baltimore in which the Bills came up short against the Ravens, the Bills showed the kind of gutsy, heart-filled effort that fans can and should be proud of.

On a day when many of us weren’t expecting much, the Bills turned in the almost-unexpected.  Against one of the presumed AFC heavyweights, the Ravens were agitated over letting a win slip away that turned into an overtime loss in New England two weeks ago, returned all pro safety Ed Reed from injury and honored their 2000 Super Bowl team at halftime at M & T Bank Stadium.  All the ingredients were in place for the Bills to suffer a similar curb-stomping they received from the New York Jets a few weeks ago.

Sunday’s game was the classic epitome of the old saying, “that’s why they play the game.”  No believed the Bills had a Sunday morning church prayer of competing with the Ravens.  I think I safely can assume those of you left in your survivor pools were quick on the draw to use Baltimore. 

Maybe the Ravens were looking past the Bills and towards their bye week.  Maybe they took the Bills for granted, who are on the fast track towards next April’s first pick.   Whatever the case may be, they’re lucky Ray Lewis and Billy Cundiff saved their bacon.  If not, history would’ve repeated itself again.  Remember 2007 when the Miami Dolphins were winless, and had the No.1 pick written all over them?  Their first win, unexpectedly, came against Baltimore.

By now you know Sunday’s story again ended in heart breaking fashion with the Bills losing to the Ravens in overtime, 37-34.  There was  everything you could ever want in a football game.  Points gallore.  Timely turnovers.  A see-saw battle for the ultimate state of control.  An ending filled with elation and relief on one side, and gut-wrenching defeat on the other.

The Bills fell to 0-6, but at least they did it in style.  They rolled up an astounding 506 yards of total offense on the vaunted and feared Baltimore defense that welcomed back Ed Reed.  Normally, it would take the Bills’ offense at least three weeks to amass that staggering total.   Ryan Fitzpatrick had an awesome day, and he’ll now be the answer to a trivia question years from now:  who was the Bills quarterback to end a 59-game streak in which  Buffalo went without a 300-yard passer?

Fitzpatrick posted career numbers on Sunday, throwing for 374 yards and four touchdowns.  It was the first time since J.P. Losman in 2006 to throw for 300 yards or more.  They piled on the most yardage against the Ravens since 2000.  How special this could’ve been had the Bills not blown two 14-point leads while shooting themselves in the foot with four turnovers.

Buffalo’s final turnover ended up hurting the most.  With the Bills in position in overtime at the Baltimore 42, Fitzpatrick connected with tight end Shawn Nelson.  Gang tackled by what seemed to be like the entire 53-man roster, Nelson was pushed forward and held up by the Ravens defense before linebacker Ray Lewis was finally able to strip the ball out of Nelson’s grasp.  Moments later, Billy Cundiff booted the game-winner from 38 yards out allowing the Ravens to breathe their biggest sigh of relief this season.

It was a close call for sure, very debateable.  It could’ve gone either way.  But you keep playing until there’s a whistle, which is what the Baltimore defense did.  Good football teams get those kind of big breaks and bounces.  Good teams also turn turnovers into touchdowns, which is what the Ravens were able to do as well.

C.J. Spiller’s fumble on a kick off  return late in the second quarter was a killer.  The Ravens recovered at the Buffalo 27 and four plays later, Joe Flacco pulled Baltimore within four at 24-20 with halftime looming after he connected with tight end Todd Heap for a touchdown.  Instead of taking the momentum and a two-possesion lead into the locker room, the Bills allowed Baltimore back into the game within four.

On the first play of the third quarter, Fitzpatrick tried to force one in the direction of Roscoe Parrish over the middle, only to have his pass intercepted.  The next play, Flacco hit Anquan Boldin for a 34-yard strike and 16 seconds into the third quarter, the Ravens led for the first time since leading 3-0 in the first quarter, 27-24.

On this day, Fitzpatrick found the secret formula and dismantled one of the fiercest defenses in the NFL.  It’s still hard to fathom that the league’s 31st ranked passing attack was able to move up and down the field almost at will on the league’s third-ranked defense.

Backed by an offensive line that actually looked like a professional offensive line instead of a group of wet paper bags, Fitzpatrtick was able to burn Baltimore when the Ravens brought their blitzing attacks.  He hit Lee Evans for two touchdowns, a 33-yarder in the first quarter and a 20-yarder in the second quarter.  In the first quarter Fitzpatrick also connected with Steve Johnson for a 33-yard touchdown.  Fitzpatrick’s 374 passing yards were the most since Drew Bledsoe back in 2002.  Evans and Johnson were dynamite, combining for 14 catches, 263 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Trailing late in the fourth quarter, and down to their final life line, Fitzpatrick took the Bills down field, 59 yards on 12 plays over the last two minutes of the fourth to set up Rian Lindell’s game tying 50-yard field goal with four seconds left.  Fitzpatrick became the first Bills quarterback since Jim Kelly in 1990 to post back-to-back games with three passing touchdowns or more.

Sure, there’s no room for moral victories in losses.  It would be easy to blast the Bills for turning the football over four times, compiling over 500 yards of total offense and still losing.  With Carolina’s late victory over San Francisco on Sunday, Buffalo now stands as the only winless team left this season. 

But you’ve got to “Billieve” that if the Bills can find a way to keep playing like this, they’re going to beat somebody.  It was fun to watch, and I’d much rather had the victory, but they played until the final whistle scaring the pants off the Ravens instead of being Baltimore’s doormat on Sunday.  It’s well documented they’re not good enough right now;  their 0-6 record says so.  The Bills must crawl before they’ll walk, or someday before they even begin to jog or run.  Sunday was a good start.


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3 Responses to “Buffaloed In Baltimore: Cundiff’s Overtime FG Helps Ravens Survive Scare from Bills”

  1. Chris says:

    I’m a Billiever. Who knows when that win will come, but I agree completely that there are too many pieces than ‘can’ work to keep the Bills down forever.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick’s inspired play helped to boost his passer rating to 102, with a TD/Int ratio of 11-4. However, he’s going to need some help!

    Buffalo ranks 15th in rushing yards the league, averaging 110.7, but they have not converted these plays into touchdowns, Fred Jackson being the exception.

    The Bills are also giving up 6 minutes in the time of possession battle.
    The defense has 8 sacks compared to their opponent’s 15, and has only managed 1 miserly interception on the year.

    There is a lot that ‘should’ go right for the Bills. Are they going to be able to put those pieces together and capitalize?

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