Ravens 37, Bills 34, OT
Ray Lewis walked out of the shower, a towel wrapped around his waist and a broad smile planted on his face.
He spotted Ed Reed across the Baltimore Ravens locker room, gave his longtime teammate a thumbs up and shouted, ''Hey boy, welcome back!''
Reed forced three turnovers in his injury-delayed season debut, Billy Cundiff kicked a 38-yard field goal in overtime after Lewis stripped the ball from tight end Shawn Nelson, and the Ravens squeezed past the winless Buffalo Bills 37-34 Sunday.
Baltimore yielded 505 yards and four touchdowns to the 30th-ranked offense in the NFL. But the Ravens (5-2) escaped with a victory before their bye week because Lewis yanked the ball from Nelson's hands at the Buffalo 29 in overtime.
Four plays later, Cundiff connected on the game-winner with 10:54 left.
''There's an old saying: Keep playing until you hear the whistle,'' Lewis said. ''...When we hit him, everybody just rallied to the ball. I was up under him and just saw the ball there and sort of reached up and just snatched it out of his hand, knowing that he was just trying to go forward.''
The Ravens (5-2) trailed 24-10 late in the first half before scoring 24 straight points to take a 34-24 lead into the fourth quarter.
Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick then threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Lee Evans with 5:46 left, and the Bills (0-6) forced overtime on a 50-yard field goal by Rian Lindell with 4 seconds to go in regulation.
Fitzpatrick went 29 for 43 for 373 yards and four touchdowns - three to Evans and another to Steve Johnson. The four TD passes were the most against the Ravens since Peyton Manning did it for Indianapolis in December 2007.
But it all went for naught.
''It's hard to win when you turn it over four times,'' Bills coach Chan Gailey said. ''I think we took a step forward in some respects. But we didn't play smart in some areas.''
Reed, who spent the previous six weeks recovering from offseason hip surgery, immediately made his presence felt. He forced a fumble on Buffalo's first possession, then made two interceptions in the second half - including one that was deflected by Lewis.
''Oh man, it was beautiful, just getting back out there with the guys,'' Reed said. ''Coming out here and knowing the fans were going to be how they were, that was just a dream come true. It was like being a rookie all over again my first year here.''
Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes, and Baltimore improved to 14-1 under coach John Harbaugh against teams with sub-.500 records.
But this one was anything but easy.
''It was a game of momentum,'' said Ravens tight end Todd Heap, who scored two touchdowns. ''At times they had it, at times we got it back. We were just happy to get it at the end.''
The Bills took no consolation in making it close.
''It's frustrating, especially to lose that way. We're still searching for that first win,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I can tell you that ... we're going to get over the hump.''
Fitzpatrick threw for 181 yards and three touchdowns, and Buffalo amassed 262 yards before halftime against the NFL's third-ranked defense in taking a 24-20 lead.
After Cundiff kicked a field goal on Baltimore's second possession, Fitzpatrick guided the Bills on a 72-yard drive that ended with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Evans in the front left corner of the end zone.
Josh Wilson fumbled the subsequent kickoff, and Buffalo's George Wilson recovered at the Baltimore 15 to set up a field goal to make it 10-3.
The Ravens punted, and Buffalo launched a 91-yard drive in which Fitzpatrick went 3 for 5 for 59 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown to Johnson on third-and-7.
Aided by a 40-yard pass interference call against Drayton Florence, Flacco capped an 80-yard drive with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Heap.
But the Ravens defense had no answer for Fitzpatrick, who completed a 43-yard pass to Johnson before guiding a pass between three defenders to Evans for a 20-yard score.
In the final minute of the first half, Cundiff drilled a 48-yard field goal and after C.J. Spiller fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, Flacco hit Heap for a 14-yard touchdown.
Flacco threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin on a flea-flicker and Willis McGahee scored on a 2-yard run to put the Ravens up 34-24.
Notes: Reed has nine career games with at least two interceptions, passing New Orleans safety Darren Sharper for most such games among active players. ... Flacco went over 8,000 career yards with a first-quarter completion to Boldin. ... Fitzpatrick has thrown multiple TD passes in five straight games, the longest streak by a Buffalo QB since Drew Bledsoe's five-game run in 2002. ... Johnson has caught a TD pass in four consecutive games.