ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- With a little help from Buffalo's special teams, Drew Bledsoe answered his critics.
Bledsoe hit tight end Mark Campbell for three touchdowns and Nate Clements returned a punt 86 yards for a score, helping the Bills to a 37-17 win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
It was a dominating effort by a Buffalo team (4-6) that has won four straight at home, but was coming off its worst outing of the season, a 29-6 loss at New England.
Why are the veteran-laden Rams so up and down? For some reason this team won't listen to the stats despite their obvious relevance. The stats prove that if RB Marshall Faulk gets a certain number of carries this team is darn hard to beat. But for some reason they will get enamored with the pass and completely ignore him and drop a game like this one to a team that has inferior personnel. It's also becoming obvious that the defense misses former coordinator Lovie Smith who seemed to have this team playing spirited football. He put an emphasis on team morale that now seems to be lacking in St. Louis.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders. He's a regular contributor to Insider.
Bledsoe answered those calling for rookie J.P. Losman to take over as starter, going 15-of-24 for 185 yards. His only blemish was an interception off Lee Evans' hand in the first quarter.
The three touchdowns were the most Bledsoe's thrown since he had three in Buffalo's 38-21 win over Miami on Dec. 1, 2002.
Bledsoe was so good his 160 yards passing in the first half were more than he had in 10 of his previous 23 games. And he got his 213th career touchdown pass, moving into 19th place ahead of Terry Bradshaw and Y.A. Tittle.
After spotting the Rams a 10-0 first-quarter lead on their first two possessions, the Bills held St. Louis to 98 yards and no points in the second half, and intercepted Marc Bulger three times.
And Buffalo's special teams continued to shine. Clements' score was Buffalo's fourth touchdown return of the season, and second in consecutive games after Jonathan Smith returned a punt 70 yards for a score against the Patriots.
This was not the effort the Rams were expecting after taking the NFC West lead with last weekend's 23-12 win over Seattle.
St. Louis (5-5) has now lost three of its last four, all three losses against AFC East opponents.
This performance might have been worse than their loss to Miami, and could lead to another public outburst from coach Mike Martz, who chewed out his team following a 40-22 loss to New England on Nov. 7.
Marc Bulger went 27-of-45 for 287 yards, including touchdowns to Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.
The Rams unraveled completely at the start of the third quarter with the game tied at 17. The Bills scored 20 points in the quarter, 17 in a 5:40 span.
After the Rams went three and out on their first possession of the half, Smith returned a punt 53 yards to the St. Louis 5. Bledsoe hit Campbell over the middle for a touchdown on the next play.
After another three and out, Clements caught the punt at the right hash and burst untouched up the right sideline, somersaulting into the end zone from the 1.
The Rams' Erik Flowers then muffed Buffalo's short kickoff, which the Bills recovered at the St. Louis 31, leading to Rian Lindell's 35-yard field goal.
Any chances of a Rams comeback ended when Bulger marched St. Louis 65 yards to the Bills 2 early in the fourth quarter. But defensive tackle Sam Adams batted a pass at the line of scrimmage and then caught it in a crowd.
Campbell also caught TD passes of 19 and 10 yards for the first three-TD game of his career, and finished with four catches for 37 yards.
Willis McGahee rushed for 100 yards on 20 carries, the fourth 100-yard game of his career -- all coming in Bills victories this season.
The Rams' already young and troubled secondary was depleted further by injuries. Starting cornerback Travis Fisher and backup DeJuan Groce did not return after sustaining knee injuries in the first quarter. And fourth cornerback Kevin Garrett did not return after taking a blow to the head in the third quarter.
Monday, November 22, 2004
Monday, November 08, 2004
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Bills right tackle Mike Williams suffered a neck injury and was driven off the field in an ambulance during the third quarter of Buffalo's 22-17 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
Williams was walking around with a neck brace following the game. He also had X-rays taken that were negative, but the Bills remained cautious.
"He'll be looked at again after 24 hours," coach Mike Mularkey said.
Williams appeared to be knocked cold when he and left tackle Jonas Jennings were protecting quarterback Drew Bledsoe, double-teaming Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis. As Bledsoe released the pass, Ellis bowled over Jennings, knocking him into Williams, who awkwardly fell backward.
Williams lay face down and motionless at the Bills 10 as team trainers and emergency officials tended to him. He was lifted onto a stretcher and had his helmet strapped in place. The Bills announced that trainers were taking precautionary measures to protect Williams' neck.
Williams raised his right thumb just he was being placed into the ambulance.
"He's a guy I have a lot of respect for, and is an important member of our team," Bledsoe said.
Bills players knelt together in a circle while Williams was being treated on the field.
Marcus Price took over for Williams, Buffalo's first-round pick in the 2002 draft.