Bills 13, Browns 6
A comedy of errors by the Cleveland Browns was just what the Buffalo Bills needed to come away with another victory.
Ryan Fitzpatrick's touchdown pass, Rian Lindell's field goals of 30 and 19 yards, and a series of miscues by the Browns helped the Bills to a 13-6 win on Sunday.
While both teams prepared for snowy conditions that never developed, a game of mistakes ensued, with the Brown fumbling five times, losing two, and Jake Delhomme throwing an interception late in the game.
''With the weather that was in front of us, we knew we would have to grind it out,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''Actually, I think the weather was a little bit better than we expected.''
The Browns (5-8) were not.
Fitzpatrick hit David Nelson for an 11-yard TD pass in the second quarter, and the Bills essentially watched the Browns self-destruct on a cold, drizzly day.
The Bills (3-10) won for the third time in five games, and bounced back from a 38-14 loss at Minnesota last weekend.
''We're not fighting for a lot but pride right now,'' running back Fred Jackson. ''We want to come in and finish the season strong.''
Jackson finished with 112 yards rushing, and Fitzpatrick was 14 of 23 for 142 yards and a touchdown. Nelson made an over-the-shoulder catch in the middle of the end zone to cap a 14-play, 89-yard drive early into the second quarter.
Lindell then hit his field goals, and the Bills defense did the rest in limiting the Browns to nine first downs and 187 yards offense.
The Browns contributed with a string of errors, featuring a Delhomme-led offense that failed to cross midfield on its five second-half possessions.
Cleveland was eliminated from playoff contention and looked nothing like the team that had won four of its previous six games - including consecutive victories over New Orleans and New England.
''It's self-inflicted wounds,'' Browns coach Eric Mangini said. ''Three turnovers and putting the ball on the ground at other points - you can't do that.''
In going 12 of 20 for 86 yards, Delhomme contributed to the loss with two turnovers in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Arthur Moats knocked the ball out of the quarterback's hand early in the fourth quarter to set up Lindell's second field goal that put the Bills up 13-6.
Two possessions later, Delhomme was hit just as he released a pass, which fluttered into the air and was easily intercepted by Leodis McKelvin. The Bills took over with 3:51 left and ran out the clock.
''It's very disappointing,'' said Delhomme, making his third straight start in place of injured rookie Colt McCoy. ''We didn't play good football. We can't blame it on anything.''
Delhomme wasn't the only Browns player having difficulty handling the ball.
The Browns were so sloppy that on their second possession of the third quarter, they fumbled three times - Peyton Hillis twice and Joshua Cribbs once - but somehow managed to recover the ball each time before being forced to punt.
Hillis finished with 108 yards rushing, but also lost a fumble that ended a potential scoring drive in the first quarter. Hillis lost control of the ball while attempting to vault safety Jairus Byrd in the first quarter. It came on the first play after Browns' linebacker Chris Gocong sacked Fitzpatrick and forced a fumble that was recovered by Eric Wright, giving Cleveland the ball at the Bills 25.
''It was mostly a down day,'' Hillis said. ''I let myself down in a lot of ways.''
The Browns settled for field goals in the first half despite twice marching inside the Bills 10. The first drive stalled when Hillis was stuffed for no gain on a third-and-goal from the 1. The second drive ended when Delhomme overthrew Brian Robiskie over the middle in the end zone on third-and-5 from the 8.
''You wonder when your going to catch a break,'' Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams said, referring to how Buffalo is 1-5 in games this decided by five points or less. ''We've been in a position to win a lot of times and we didn't make the plays happen. Today, if we turned the ball over, we got it right back. And that was big for us.''
Notes: Bills coach Chan Gailey fears WR Lee Evans could miss the final three weeks after hurting his ankle at the end of TE Jonathan Stupar's 35-yard catch and run in the second quarter. ... Hillis became the ninth Browns player - first since Jamal Lewis in 2008 - to reach 1,000 yards rushing in a season. Entering Sunday with 962 yards rushing, Hillis reached the milestone with an 8-yard gain on his fourth carry. ... Fitzpatrick extended his streak of TD passes to 14 straight games, moving into second place on the Bills list. Hall-of-Famer Jim Kelly holds the record of 18, set over the 1986-87 seasons. ... Fitzpatrick has 21 touchdowns passing this season, the most by a Bills player since Drew Bledsoe had 24 in 2002.