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

Toronto.

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

Chandler.

It was a near exact duplicate of how the Bills’ final drive of

regulation ended.

Cornerback Robert McClain chased down receiver Stevie Johnson

from behind and knocked the ball loose at the Falcons 30 with 20

seconds remaining.

”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

2008:

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

yards rushing.

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