What do you get when you take two NFL teams with reputations on the line, add in five takeaways by one of them, throw in a top rusher and garnish it with opportunistic penalties? In Week 5, that recipe equaled a 31-24 victory for the Buffalo Bills over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sunday was all about establishing the run and, apparently, the defense again forcing a record number of turnovers by a veteran QB (Vick and Brady both threw four against the Bills).
What's more exciting than starting a game off with a touchdown? Starting a game off with an interception that sets up that touchdown, which is what happened when Alex Carrington batted one of Vick's passes on the Eagles' opening drive and Reggie Corner pulled it in to plant the Bills nearly at midfield. Freddy J got into the endzone straight away after an 18-yard catch by Donald Jones, putting the Bills ahead 7-0 on their first possession.
Eagles offense, take two, resulted in takeaway No. 2 when Arthur Moats hit Vick right as he was throwing (You know what they say: don't cross the Moats!) and George Wilson made the interception. Though the offense couldn't capitalize on the takeaway, it prevented the Eagles from putting any points on the board until their next possession when Vick hit Jeremy Maclin on a two-yard pass to tie the score.
But, in what's becoming a trend that I'm totally okay with, the Bills immediately answered with seven more points of their own to pull ahead 14-7 (Freddy J barreled forward 49 yards and David Nelson pulled in a six-yard TD pass).
They say three times' the charm but does that apply to four, too? I guess not, because Vick was again hit mid-throw, this time by Kelvin Sheppard to give Nick Barnett his first of two takeaways. Barnett scurried 31 yards into the endzone, pushing the Bills ahead 21-7 going into halftime.
I'm thinking we fast forward through most of the second half because it was just too distressing to relive. In a nutshell, after tacking on seven more points for a 28-7 lead in the Bills' opening drive, the offense stalled. Much like last week's game against the Bengals, this was (mostly because) the O-line disappeared for awhile, which makes it difficult for Fitz to get off useful passes or for Freddy J to run through non-existant holes.
The defense hit a wall for most of the third and fourth quarter when Vick and his offense finally got turned on and quickly dissolved the Bills' gaping lead. With a little under two minutes to go in the game, it even looked like the Eagles were threatening to AT LEAST tie up the game, if not straight up win it. But Drayton Florence stripped Jason Avant of the ball and Barnett scooped it up. The offense killed the clock and my heart was finally at peace.
The Bills are 4-1! 4-1! Sometimes, I can't even believe this is real life.
I've been trying to decide what's worse -- trailing at halftime and coming back to win it, or leading at halftime and nursing the lead for a nailbiting win. I'm leaning toward the latter. Sunday's second half was what I imagine being tortured would feel like -- slow, painful, uncertain.
I'm beyond ecstatic that the Bills finally close out games no matter what it takes but I'm excited for the day that I don't have to clutch myself and inappropriately exclaim and/or moan during the process. Yes, the day I can (possibly) look like a normal football spectator will be borderline amazing.
It's hard to say who deserves the game ball! Freddy J had a total of 196 yards (111 rushing, 85 receiving), Barnett had two takeaways, George Wilson had a takeaway and a handful of monster plays. Stay tuned for my mid-week, pre-preview post where we'll look at some impressive stats. (I'll make numbers fun, I promise) So far this season, the Bills are in good company!
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