Another overtime win

The 2002 Buffalo Bills are more fun to watch than Survivor Thailand and CSI; more fun to watch than MTV's Jackass; even more fun to watch than the FOX celebrity daredevil show that was on the tube Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Well, now wait, that's going too far.

That show did feature Dennis Rodman connect himself to a bungee, jump out of a speeding convertible that exploded as it went off a cliff, and do a face-plant into an embankment at enough speed to make him wonder if all his appendages were still intact.

That was probably more fun than the Bills.

But Buffalo is clearly the most fun team to watch in the NFL. They've solidified the status with their third high-scoring overtime contest of this young season – a 33-27 win against the Bears at Wilson Stadium. Now the team is 2-2 and trailing first-place Miami and New England – who both lost Sunday – by a game.

It only took Drew Bledsoe two offensive plays during the extra session to lead Buffalo to victory. After the Bills forced a three-and-out on the Bears' opening overtime series, Bledsoe and Eric Moulds hooked up for a beautiful 30-yard reception to the Chicago 26. On the next play, Bledsoe threw to Travis Henry in the flat, who ran it 26 yards for the score (See "Big Play").

It was almost as abrupt an end as the Jets game three weeks earlier.

"I don't think my heart can take too many more of those," said an ecstatic, yet relieved Gregg Williams.

Williams' team was in control early in the game as it took the opening kickoff 75 yards in seven plays for a Peerless Price two-yard touchdown catch.

On the next drive, up 7-0, Buffalo again moved the ball into Chicago territory, but Henry got stacked up and fumbled, which was recovered by the Bears' Warrick Holdman who pitched it to safety Mike Brown for a 62-yard score, tying the game. It may very well have turned into a 14-point swing as Buffalo had steadily driven 51 yards to the Chicago 28.

Henry was benched until the third quarter as a result.

"We needed to get him to calm down and not overblow the situation," said Gregg Williams. "Plus, he was hurting and was probably worried about his knee. It was the same one that he hurt last year."

Buffalo jumped out to a 17-7 second-quarter lead on a four-yard Eric Moulds touchdown catch, but the Bears answered with a five-yard touchdown from Jim Miller to David Terrell. The drive was helped out immensely when Aaron Schobel was called for a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on an incomplete second-and-10 pass. That gave them a first and 10 at the Bills' 49 instead of a third and 10 at the Chicago 35.

Again, it was a case of dumb mental mistakes letting the opponent back into the ball game.

Buffalo really should have been killing Chicago on the scoreboard. In the first half, the Bills outgained the Bears 222 to 87 and recorded15 first downs to the Bears' six. Yet they only had a 17-14 lead.

Eric Moulds, the game's leading receiver with eight catches for 119 yards and a touchdown, thought the Bills should have been blowing the Bears out by halftime.

"We felt that way," he said. "When we came in at halftime we knew that we made too many mistakes. Penalties, giving up the touchdown off the fumble and just a lot of other stupid mistakes that shouldn't have been made, were made, and we knew we needed to change things in the second half."

After struggling through the third quarter due to Chicago adjusting its defense to take the Bills' receivers out of the game, Buffalo took a 27-20 lead early in the fourth when Bledsoe spotted Dave Moore for a one-yard touchdown off a fake bootleg. It was a six-play drive that featured four catches by the Bills' tight ends, including a 29-yarder to Jay Riemersma that got Buffalo to the Chicago 15.

Again, Chicago answered with a three-yard touchdown pass from Miller to tight end John Davis. Another major penalty put the Bears in business on that drive – this time a 31-yard pass interference call on Nate Clements, who was covering David Terrell near the Bills' end zone. The pass looked uncatchable, but Clements was called anyway. So instead of third and seven at the Buffalo 35, it was first and goal at the Buffalo 4. Two plays later, Chicago tied the game with two minutes, 46 seconds left.

Bledsoe then drove Buffalo down for a game-winning 39 yard Mike Hollis field goal – after he had hit from 48 and 49 yards – but 6'7" tackle James Williams blocked it by his finger tips.

It was sheer drama, like "Driving Miss Daisy."

Defensively, Buffalo held the Bears to 52 yards rushing and star back Anthony Thomas to 48 yards on 23 attempts. The team hadn't stopped the run like that since the opener. But, for the second straight week, Buffalo did not force any turnovers. And the team was penalized nine times for 82 yards.

Still, what counts is that it hung in there and won. Last year, that wouldn't have happened.

"I think we're starting to develop a belief in ourselves that we got the talent, the ability to play with anyone in the league," said Bledsoe, who was 28 for 26 for 328 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. "We just have to eliminate the mistakes. With all due respect to the Bears, we should have been up by more than we were in the first half. The sooner we can start to eliminate the mistakes and stop beating ourselves, the better."

 

Big play

Bills' ball, first and 10 from the Chicago 26, three minutes, 46 seconds remaining in the first quarter, game tied 27-27.

The Bills lined up in a three wide receiver set with tight end Jay Riemersma next to left tackle Jonas Jennings. Josh Reed was split left with Eric Moulds on the right side and Peerless Price in the right slot. Travis Henry was the lone running back. Chicago played in its nickel defense.

Bledsoe took the snap and dropped back. Riemersma stayed in to block right defensive end Alex Brown. Jennings slid right to double a Chicago tackle. Bledsoe pumped to his left causing one linebacker to float toward Reed on the left side. Then he pumped again over the middle – causing the tackles to jump – while he rolled right to escape from Brown, who came free from Riemersma's block. Brown dove for Bledsoe's feet and tripped him up, but the veteran quarterback had already thrown to Travis Henry in the flat.

Henry caught it and accelerated downfield. Moulds blocked cornerback Reggie Austin, allowing Henry to get by, then Price running a corner route, blocked corner Jerry Azumah. Henry had enough space then to sneak in the right side of the end zone. Touchdown! Game over.

"It was a great block downfield by Peerless," Henry said. "I just read it and I saw the end zone and I just knew I was going to get that."

"It was nice to see Travis take it in there in the end. It was great for his confidence," said Gregg Williams.

"What we had to do was come out and eliminate the big plays," said Bears strongside linebacker Roosevelt Colvin said. "We didn't do that. You saw that on the last play of the game. That was a big play."


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