AFC East: Bills Back On Top

Thanks to Buffalo's 23-0 victory over Washington on Sunday and New England's 25-17 loss to Pittsburgh, the Bills have technically moved into first place in the AFC East with a 5-2 record.

Bills head home after easy win in their home-away-from-home
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   Thanks to Buffalo's 23-0 victory over Washington on Sunday and New England's 25-17 loss to Pittsburgh, the Bills have technically moved into first place in the AFC East with a 5-2 record.

   The Patriots are also 5-2, but they lost to the Bills back in Week 3, and head-to-head results are the first tiebreaker.

   Up next for the Bills is another team that's right in the thick of the AFC East race, the 4-3 Jets, who will visit Orchard Park, N.Y., this weekend.

   There is no question that the Bills will be thrilled to return to their regular home at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but even they had to admit their visit to Toronto's Rogers Centre this year wasn't all that bad. After losing the first three games in the five-year Toronto series, the Bills had little trouble dispatching the decimated Redskins.

   "I know I was very critical of the environment and I talked about giving this crowd something to cheer about," said strong safety George Wilson, who let it be known before the game that playing "home" games in Toronto had grown tedious for the Bills. "We had a chance to make a lot of plays, and the fans were really excited and into the ballgame. This was definitely the most exciting crowd we've had since we've played up here."

   Of course this time, unlike the first three games in Toronto, all losses, the Bills played well from start to finish and dominated the Redskins on both sides of the ball. It was the kind of performance Buffalo will need when Rex Ryan's Jets come calling, fresh off their bye week.

   On defense, the Bills pitched their first shutout since 2006, and their nine sacks were the second most in franchise history behind only an 11-sack performance against Denver in 1964. This was the first time a team on which Mike Shanahan was the head coach or the offensive coordinator has ever been shut out.

   "It was amazing to get nine sacks against that team," said Buffalo coach Chan Gailey, whose team had only four sacks coming into the game, fewest in the NFL. "I don't think anybody expected that. I know I didn't. They gave such a great effort."

   The caveat for the Bills, though, is Washington was beset by injuries and was missing three of its top playmakers. The Bills won't have that luxury when they face the Jets and their trio of talented pass catcher, Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller, plus sturdy backs Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson.

   One of the keys for the Bills was the switch of rookie Marcell Dareus from end to tackle to replace injured Kyle Williams. The 320-pound Dareus was a mountain in the middle of the line, and he recorded 2 1/2 sacks.

   "I kind of took it personally because as a front, I don't think we've been doing a good job getting to the quarterback," said Dareus, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 draft. "It doesn't matter where they want me, I'm going to do the best I can."

   LINEUP WATCH: Andy Levitre is the third player to start at left tackle for the Bills this season. Normally the left guard, Levitre had to slide to the outside against Washington because starter Demetrius Bell has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury, and his replacement, rookie Chris Hairston, suffered an ankle injury in the Oct. 16 game against the Giants. Levitre, who played left tackle in college at Oregon State, had little trouble against a Washington pass rush that was tied for the league lead in sacks.

   BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- Sacks by the Bills in their victory over Washington, the second most in a single game in team history behind only an 11-sack outing against Denver in 1964, the year the Bills won the first of their two AFL championships. Marcell Dareus had 2 1/2 sacks, the most in one game by a Bills rookie Cornelius Bennett had three in a 1987 game.

   --QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, playing his first game since signing a $59 million contract extension, completed 21 of 27 passes for 262 yards with two TDs and one pick in the win over Washington.
   --RB Fred Jackson had another huge game, as he rushed for 120 yards and caught three passes for 74 yards.
   --DT Marcell Dareus enjoyed a breakout game, as he recorded 2 1/2 sacks and was in on five tackles.
   --TE Scott Chandler, who had been relatively quiet after scoring four TDs in the first three games, had two more against the Redskins to snap a three-game drought.
   --WR Stevie Johnson had a quiet day with six catches for a pedestrian 57 yards.

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