For the past two weeks the Buffalo Bills have been scrutinized for their lack of defensive effort and not having the mental toughness to overcome obstacles that may arise during a game.
The Bills responded to that scrutiny Sunday with a 19-16 overtime win against the Arizona Cardinals.
Buffalo had the game in hand late in the fourth quarter until a suspect play call resulted in a turnover. Brad Smith threw the ball deep from the wildcat formation and was intercepted by Patrick Peterson. That play was just the beginning of a series of unusual events that was about to unfold. The Bills knocked Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb out of the game, but allowed backup quarterback John Skelton to drive the Cardinals to the brink of field goal range. Kicker Jay Feely kicked a 61-yard field goal to tie the game at 16. Buffalo was unable to do anything with the ball and on Arizona's ensuing possession, Skelton was able to get Arizona into much more manageable field goal range, but this time Feely banked the ball off of the left goal post.
In overtime, the Bills began with possession but did little with the ball. Ironically, Buffalo's defense answered the call after Jairus Byrd recorded his second interception of the game and returned it to the Arizona six yard line. It was from there that Rian Lindell booted the Bills to victory.
The Bills recorded five sacks, one of which resulted in a safety, and had two interceptions in Sunday's game. Mario Williams stepped up with his most impressive performance as a Bill, registering two sacks himself. The most impressive aspect of Buffalo's victory is the fact that they had the game won, lost it and found a way to win it again.
Coming into Sunday's matchup, Arizona won seven-straight overtime games at home. When Feely hit the 61-yard field goal, most expected Buffalo to fold in a game they very well could have won. But for the Bills, that wasn't the case. It appears they may have found the mental toughness that was so evidently lacking the last two weeks. The question now is how long can the Bills sustain it.
With the win, the Bills climb back to .500 at 3-3. A modest record in most seasons, however, with the rest of the AFC East also at 3-3, the Bills have just as good a shot at winning the division as any of their division rivals.
Buffalo hopes to continue their momentum next Sunday when they face Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans. Buffalo has still had a tough time with the run and Johnson is looking for another breakout game after almost eclipsing the 100-yard in the Titans' win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday.
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