5 things to know as Falcons top Bills 34-31 in OT
Tony Gonzalez was apprehensive about the reception the Falcons
would receive facing the Bills in Buffalo’s annual ”home” game in
He needn’t have been. The tight end felt very much at home in
the climate-controlled confines of the Rogers Centre – and avoiding
the blustery elements in Buffalo.
”You know, I’m not going to hide the fact that we’re a dome
team and it feels a little bit better when you’re inside,”
Gonzalez said. ”I didn’t know how many fans we’d have coming into
Toronto, but I tell you what, it was great.”
It took a trip north of the border for the Falcons (3-9) to snap
a five-game skid and earn their first road win of the season
Sunday, when they rallied to pull out a 34-31 victory on Matt
Bryant’s 36-yard field goal 3 minutes into overtime.
The Bills were gracious hosts. First, they gave away their
wintry home-field edge. Then, they gave the ball away on each of
their final two possessions.
Falcons safety William Moore set up the decisive score by
forcing a fumble on Buffalo’s second play in the extra period. He
punched the ball out of the arms of Bills tight end Scott
It was a near exact duplicate of how the Bills’ final drive of
Cornerback Robert McClain chased down receiver Stevie Johnson
from behind and knocked the ball loose at the Falcons 30 with 20
”I’m hurting. I mean, I am. I’m mad,” Bills coach Doug Marrone
said. ”I’m upset.”
By squandering a 14-0 lead, the Bills (4-8) are pretty much out
of playoff contention for a 14th straight season, extending the
NFL’s longest active streak. They also will finish their ninth
straight season without a winning record.
Here’s five things that stood out as Buffalo dropped to 1-5
since the ”Bills in Toronto” series was first established in
FLYING FALCONS: Atlanta’s offense finally got on track.
Running back Steven Jackson scored twice to triple his season
touchdown total, while receiver Roddy White nearly doubled his
season total with 143 yards. Both players had missed significant
stretches with injuries.
Jackson’s second touchdown came on a 1-yard run with 1:28 left
to tie the game.
Gonzalez also scored on an 11-yard catch, upping his career
total to 108 – sixth on the NFL list – and first outside the United
States. Gonzalez had 42 yards receiving, moving him to within 14 of
passing Tim Brown (14,934 yards) for fifth on the career list.
NO-HOME ADVANTAGE: The Bills still aren’t getting as much
support in their adopted home as they are back in Buffalo in
dropping to 1-5 in games played at Toronto.
The announced crowd of 38,969 was short of the stadium’s 46,470
capacity, not including suites. And the fans that did show up
weren’t all supporting the ”home” team.
Aside from a large contingent of Falcons supporters, fans were
spotted wearing a wide array of jerseys, including the Cowboys,
Steelers, Patriots and even one Jaguars’ supporter.
”I loved seeing as many Falcons fans as we had up here today,”
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan said. ”It was a unique experience. I
obviously had a lot of fun.”
SPILLER TAKES OFF: Bills running back C.J. Spiller had a
season-best 149 yards rushing, including a 77-yarder to set up
Buffalo’s first score. It was the longest non-scoring run in team
history. Spiller, who had been bothered by a sprained left ankle,
had combined for 145 yards in his previous three games.
SACK ATTACK: Bills linebacker Jerry Hughes had two of Buffalo’s
six sacks, upping the team’s total to 43. That’s the most by the
Bills since finishing with 47 in 2006.
Trouble was, the Bills defense sagged allowing the Falcons 151
FORD FACTOR: Troubled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who has admitted
to smoking crack cocaine in a ”drunken stupor,” created a stir by
drawing a large crowd when he arrived with about 5 minutes left in
the first quarter. Wearing a Bills No. 22 Fred Jackson jersey, he
was flanked by his two personal security guards and with police
officers and stadium security nearby. As he settled into his
VIP-section seat, Ford was spotted munching on – what else? – a
Buffalo chicken wing.
”I appreciate him showing his support for me, you know, wearing
my jersey,” Jackson said. ”With all the things going on, that
still means a lot.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org