Tonawanda News

Bills

September 25, 2011

Chalk up a win for Bills secondary

ORCHARD PARK — Tom Brady threw only four interceptions last season to go along with 36 touchdown passes — the highest ratio in league history.

Sunday, the Buffalo Bills reached that mark in 60 minutes of football, and were able to capitalize on all four of them in their dramatic 34-31 win over the New England Patriots.

Last week against Oakland, the Bills secondary was faulted for allowing 323 yards to Jason Campbell and depleted options at wide out. After Sunday, however, it felt like a win for the Bills’ defensive backfield, too.

“A week ago, it didn't feel like a victory for the secondary,” said safety George Wilson, who picked off a Brady pass on the Buffalo 2 in the fourth quarter that eventually led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Fred Jackson. “We gave up a lot of yards, some big plays against a not-fully-healthy Raiders offense. … We just played with a lot of confidence. When we came in at halftime and when he had to go to the sideline and regroup, nobody was arguing, nobody was frustrated, because we knew we were beating ourselves. We just tried to stay composed and take it one step at a time.”

Drayton Florence picked off the fourth and final interception of the day on a fourth-quarter pass intended for Julian Edelman and returned it 27 yards to the end zone to give the Bills a 31-24 lead.

The ball deflected off Marcell Dareus’ helmet and Florence was at the right place at the right time.

“I didn’t even see the ball come out. I just saw it off of the deflection,” Florence said. “I was in the right situation playing my right leverage and my right coverage and I was able to go in for the score, which I practice each and every week.”

Though Brady finished with 387 yards and four touchdowns, the Buffalo secondary was able to make amends.

Bryan Scott grabbed the first turnover late in the first half and the Bills came away with a field goal before heading into the locker room down 21-10. Early in the third quarter, Leodis McKelvin blanketed tight end Rob Gronkowski and intercepted Brady for the second time. Moments later, Scott Chandler was in the end zone as the Bills capitalized yet again.

McKelvin, who had a rough outing against Oakland rookie Denarius Moore, said it was nice to bounce back against Brady and the Pats.

“Last week is last week. It was all about me just going out and making a play last week. I just keep having confidence in myself and my teammates believe in me and my coaches believe in me,” said McKelvin, who picked up his first interception since Dec. 12 of last year against Cleveland. “I’m just going to go out there and play hard.”

McKelvin added that while it’s not often Brady has an off day, he’s happy the Bills were on the receiving end.

“It’s just one of them days,” McKelvin said with a laugh. “Tom Brady, he normally don’t have that day, but he had that day today. We just have to take advantage of those days.”

Brady threw just two interceptions in 225 pass attempts in his previous seven games against the Bills.

•••

The Patriots had two timeouts remaining when Fred Jackson's apparent touchdown run was replayed and the ball was spotted on the 1-yard-line with 1:46 remaining on the clock. But after the play was overturned, New England coach Bill Belichick was down on the 10-yard line having an animated discussion with the linesman. Seconds later he was charged with a timeout and, at one point, made it out all the way to the numbers to talk to the referee.

Following the game Belichick simply said: “I took it.”

He added that there was nothing else being discussed, including the spot of the ball.

“No, I took a timeout,” he said. “I went down to call a timeout. What don’t you understand about that. … The officials were waving me back and I was pointing down there to call it.”

Referee Carl Cheffers said Belichick was looking for an explanation as to what would take place following the review.

“He wanted a confirmation of what was going to happen at that point,” Cheffers said. “I went over there and explained to him that the ball was at the half (yard line). He asked me when the clock was going to start. I said as soon as I was done with the explanation with him that I was going to go out on the field and start the clock. He stayed down there. I didn’t understand exactly why he stayed down there. I went back over there and he said he wanted a timeout. So I gave him his second charged timeout.”

•••

Stevie Johnson and Scott Chandler became the third and fourth Bills receivers to catch touchdown passes in three consecutive games to start the season.

Chandler and Johnson join Andre Reed (1991) and Eric Moulds (2004) as the only other Bills to achieve the feat.

•••

Linebacker Shawne Merriman headed into the locker room with 4:51 remaining in the third quarter. He remained just as CB Aaron Williams was being carted off the field. Merriman returned to game action, and appeared to have his right shoulder wrapped under his pads.

Merriman finished the game with zero tackles, but had two quarterback hits.

•••

Patriots safety Patrick Chung and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth were both inactive Sunday. Cornerback Ras-I-Dowling was also sidelined, while wide receiver Taylor Price, offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, tight end Aaron Hernandez and defensive end Mike Wright did not play for New England as well.

Out for the Bills were cornerback Terrence McGee, cornerback Justin Rogers, linebacker Kirk Morrison, guard Kraig Urbik, offensive lineman Sam Young, tight end Lee Smith and defensive tackle Torell Troup.

Contact Tonawanda News sports editor at Brandon Koch at brandon.koch@tonawanda-news.com.

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